Even with the open wounds caused by COVID-19 and a devastating economic crisis, in 2022 most of the institutions dedicated to promoting artistic and literary culture in Cuba gradually recovered spaces and projects that had closed or turned to virtuality during the health emergency.
The “face-to-face” is vital for creators, who were able to recover the public, live thanks to the reopening of galleries, movie theaters, theaters (those that survive). A dynamic rhythm returned, although the movement of previous years has not yet been achieved.
In 2022, the unprecedented emigration also meant the departure of musicians, filmmakers, playwrights, actors… In these long and overwhelming months, marked by scarcity, goodbyes and uncertainty about the future, Cuban culture has experienced moments of all kinds: celebrations, losses, premieres and awards.
We have witnessed passionate polemics, censorship, acts of justice… At the center of everything, Cuba.
Celebrations and tributes
On October 20, Culture Day, the Alicia Alonso International Ballet Festival of Havana began, whose 27th edition began the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the National Ballet, which will last until 2023.
For its part, Cuban Radio celebrated its centenary and throughout the country recognized the work of those who have dedicated themselves entirely to that world. The island has a hundred radio stations and for some people this continues to be a lively and dynamic medium.
From the visual arts, in addition to the personal and collective exhibitions of various creators, the gaze was concentrated on the 120th anniversary of the birth of the most universal Cuban painter: Wifredo Lam. The National Museum of Fine Arts inaugurated the “Wifredo Lam indivisible” exhibition, which will remain until February 2023. Colloquia and talks about the author of La Jungla were also organized.
The organizers of the International New Latin American Film Festival opted for the presence of spectators in the theaters.
In its 43rd edition, despite the small number of theaters available in Havana, more than one hundred feature films and shorts were screened. An inaugural gala marked by controversy, the pronouncement of a group of filmmakers in favor of creative freedom, the tribute to documentary filmmaker Nicolás Guillén Landrián and the awarding of the Honorary Coral award to singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez were topics of conversation during the event.
From the eastern city of Manzanillo, the trova was declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation, just on the date that marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the New Song Movement. The Movement of Cuban Light Rum Masters was declared a World Cultural Heritage.
There were also tributes to personalities such as dancer and choreographer Ramiro Guerra on his centenary and to Cervantes Prize winner Dulce María Loynaz on the 120th anniversary of her birth.
Between awards and farewells
Pedro Luis Ferrer turned 70 in 2022 and chose the James L. Knight in Miami to celebrate his “fruitful and modest artistic work.”
Cuban-Spanish Chanel Terrero was third classified in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “SloMo” and gave Spain the best result since 1995 in that event, while in Havana musician Alexander Abreu won the Cubadisco Grand Prize for his album Será que se acabó in addition to two recognitions in the categories of Dance Music and Sound Design.
The band Síntesis, X Alfonso and Ele Alfonso won the Latin Grammy Award for their album Ancestros sinfónico, a production that had the advice of maestro Leo Brouwer and researcher Natalia Bolívar. The phonogram is included among the 15 best Latin albums of 2022, made by the public radio stations in the United States, NPR.
For her work dedicated to music, teacher and composer Tania León became the first music teacher from public universities in New York City to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center Award, along with other figures such as George Clooney and Gladys Knight.
Among the most exciting live shows of 2022 Rolling Stone highlighted the young musician Erick Iglesias and his band Cimafunk. His album El alimento is in the Latin Rock / Alternative category of the 2023 Grammy Awards.
Filmmaker Manuel Herrera received the National Film Award for the work of a lifetime and, outside the Cuban borders, Ana de Armas won applause at important festivals around the world for her role in the movie Blonde where she plays the iconic Marylin Monroe. Her critically acclaimed portrayal has so far earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Awards on January 10.
Jorge Perugorría, Mirtha Ibarra, Luis Alberto García and Ana de Armas deserved the Gold Medal of the Spanish Film Academy “for enriching the cinematography” of that country, according to the board of directors of the institution.
Also in Spain, filmmakers Pavel Giroud and Carlos Lechuga premiered at the San Sebastian Festival the works: Vicenta B and El Caso Padilla, respectively, both with notable support from specialized critics.
The National Theater Award in Cuba went to actress and professor Corina Mestre and the Humor Award to actor Mario Aguirre, both with popular careers in radio, film and television.
Painter Flora Fong received the National Prize for Plastic Arts and scenic designer Eduardo Arrocha was distinguished with the National Dance Prize for the work of a lifetime.
Long awaited and postponed, this year the National Literature Award finally arrived for Holguin writer and poet Delfín Prats.
“Death is a chimera”
Despite all the positive aspects that art contributes, the physical departure of various personalities was mourned by Cuban culture. It happened with singer and producer Suylén Milanés, playwright Eugenio Hernández Espinosa, actors Mario Balmaseda, Aurora Basnuevo, Herminia Sánchez, Alexis Díaz de Villegas and Gina Cabrera.
Equally heartfelt were the deaths of admired poet and essayist Fina García Marruz, researcher and musician Radamés Giro, young DJ Ernesto Hidalgo (Tiki Sk8), painter Cosme Proenza, soloist Ernesto Bacallao and the artist from Matanzas Agustín Drake.
It was unfortunate to know that designer Rafael Morante, painter Carmen Herrera, researcher Magaly Muguercia, painter Ernesto Rancaño and musicians José Luis Cortés (El Tosco), Lázaro García, Aurelio de la Vega, Elpidio Chapottín, Mongo Rives and rapper Osmel Francis had left us.
Five months after his last concert at Havana’s Sports City, the great singer, poet and endearing musician, Pablo Milanés, died. Reactions came from all over the world, social networks were flooded with condolences for his relatives. Hundreds of Cubans living in Spain came to the burning chapel in Madrid to sing his songs and pay him the honors that only a musician of his stature and importance deserves. With Pablo, as expressed by many, a part of Cuba left.
From the publishing world
This year we received the book Celia en Cuba. (1925-1962) by researcher Rosa Marquetti, published by Desmemoriados publishers, Spain, 2022. The work, the only one of its kind written by a Cuban author, has been described by most musicologists, journalists and musicians as a clean and careful portrait, a rigorous analysis based on respect and truth.
More than 860,000 books were sold during the 30th International Book Fair 2022 and more than 800 titles were presented. The novel Personas decentes, by Leonardo Padura, was among the most prominent in Spain and during the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, Carlos Manuel Álvarez received the Anagrama de Crónicas Award for Los intrusos.
Writers Rogelio Riverón, Francisco López Sacha and Joaquín Borges Triana won the Alejo Carpentier Prize and the Nicolás Guillén Poetry Prize went to Carlos Esquivel.
For her part, Cuban-American historian Ada Ferrer, author of Cuba: an American History, won the Pulitzer Prize for best history book published last year.
Countdown to zero
As of January, several record and literary productions have been announced. The National Museum of Fine Arts will celebrate the 110th anniversary of its foundation and the Book Fair will honor poet Fina García Marruz on her centenary, among other novelties that will make 2023 a better year, according to promises.
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