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By: Daniel Céspedes Góngora

Siéntate y mira. Crítica, comentarios y ensayos sobre cine

There is a right to gather what is being written, if in the passage of time, one as an author wishes to appreciate onese sees and be valued less dispersed and fragmentary. Anthologies tend to better shape the image of the various printed yoes, but they can also distance a creator who is not distinguished by a single way of exercising criticism. Although in rigor, not a way, not even a style are guarantees of exhibition or qualifying quality.
An added right to the meeting is to select what one implies most interesting and perhaps valid, whether in question of substance, style (if any), thematic. Although if the call is cinema, in this case criticism, commentary or essay on cinema, there is no need for a single exhibition or writing form because the selected films are as different as their ways of addressing them. And I still believe that the tone of the criticized (audiovisual) influences that of writing, as well as the variability of media or publishing contexts such as specialized or cultural magazines in the general sense, web pages, radio and television.
In Sit back and watch… I select some of the texts already presented in publications of great relevance and legitimizing of the capital and Cuba. I did not decide to include opinions released on the programming grid of different havana radio stations such as COCO, Habana Radio and CMBF, as they were comments, when not reviewed, close to the radio mode, thus implying tone and extension of the language itself for the radio that I do not despise in any way. Their scope and amenity are indisputable, but, if included, it would create a tonal and expressive divorce in this volume. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate the importance of the note or journalistic review that I have also written for a remarkable website such as CMBF or for the Poster of the International Festival of new Latin American Cinema in Havana.
When I recently graduated from Art History, I began writing comments for Radio Guamá, the provincial station of Pinar del Río. There I was opened by directors and radio advisers who, like my friend Yemile Crespo, trusted that I could do it. I learned with Yemile the importance, for example, of subordinating less in notes and comments, as my art critic Adelaide de Juan requested a few years ago. The information has to also enter precisely, almost without second intentions, but you do not have to give up the suggestions. “The hard and tempting thing to do is to prove that you can write for the radio medium and for the printed media,” my friend encouraged me.
Writing daily for radio influenced me more than imagined, especially the clarity and ease of exposure. Since everything cannot be addressed in radio time, I also learned to focus on one or two aspects of filmic hashing. My teacher and friend Rufo Caballero already recommended it in his film appreciation classes when I was in my fourth year of Art History. This would have an impact for the sake of deepening and limiting myself to the simultaneous and future spaces of publication. On the fly I became convinced that film critics come as a ring to the finger the truth of the saying: “who encompasses much tightly”. There is no need to pretend to say it all in order to achieve a correct, good and tempting text. For added extension and deepening is the essay, although my reviews and short comments are influenced by the essayistic, as some have warned.
I didn’t give up periphrase, so it was simple on the radio or more complicated in a written text. By accommodating some texts for certain announcers, I did not want to make other concessions. Despite traditional media rules or requirements, there is no single way to write for the radio. So I demanded that my comments be read properly. Interpretation and tone was what I asked for, when I didn’t record them with my voice. Many announcers read very well, but do not interpret the comment. Tonal disaffalle in some critical dimensions undermines not only the object of analysis, but also the exercise of judgment itself. Not to my liking many critics prefer and are even asked to read their own appreciations or cinematic comments or any manifestation on the radio. However, I trusted and had unexpected surprises. I often managed to distance myself from my authorship and was very critical once I heard an effective comment read by others in front of the microphone. Other times, I was excited to heed something that didn’t look like mine. The locution averaged a lot.
I’ve always tried to insinuate, write anywhere. Direct language, without a creative purpose in how you could write about a film or any other artistic expression, does not please me, because there is not a single path if you promote, interpret and rate something or someone it is. This level of demands I demand even for the most promotional texts, such as when I have had to write for the Poster of the Latin American New Film Festival.
Here I collect texts of very different tones where generic borders fade away. That was intentional. Although the critic does not need to be direct in expressing whether or not he liked a particular film, the tone, when not analyzed, can already reveal the view. And I advocate falling in love with the language, while still calling things the way they are. However, a good criticism is not the one that underscores and triggers a very technical or academic terminology. I try not to bore and saturate with cinematic terms. I also don’t abandon them when I need to name them and clarify something.
The title Sit down and watch… I take it from the daily saying. It is the figure of a larger projection, where one friend invites another to share two spaces: that of the house and even that of the dark room and that of the history or character development that is proposed to us. Sit down for a stay and a previous concentration, since then you will begin another kind of awakening that involves focusing and then thinking with your eyes. Perhaps the phrase “sit and look” is an order without an imposition, although for many it is listed as a subtle order. And, between the two exercises, there can be no lack of the pleasure of reading as a call for the commented and mentioned films to be seen later. In truth, criticism of a film is not dependent, but concurrent, exercises, where two scriptures (those of an observer and a filmmaker) intersect in favor of cinematic work. I’ve wanted to write from so many others, but I haven’t dared for many other reasons.
My thanks to the Island of Youth, where I was born and saw for the first time cinema, the island of my childhood, adolescence and early youth. I remember La Fe, where my house was, the outdoor cinema, the Young Club where I skipped so many lunchtimes and food to watch movies or participate in premieres of all kinds and categories. To La Fe, which I do not want to visit for reasons of nostalgia and my possible collapse, I owe my early attachment to the seventh art. On television, in my home pinero, having trained with Enrique Colina, Carlos Galiano and Rolando Pérez Betancourt. Reading and trust to come, in Havana and Pinar del Río, to Rufo Caballero and José Alberto Lezcano, respectively, my dearest teachers. To whom I read as a teenager and who now have them as colleagues and friends: Frank Padrón, Joel del Río and my brother Dean Luis Reyes. Antonio Mazón, Mario Naito and Luciano Castillo, of which I have the privilege of having their friendship. Raydel Araoz and Rubens Riol, Mayté Madruga and Antonio Enrique González Rojas, Tony, the most followed and controversial critic of my generation. Alberto Garrandés, a demanding and prolific literary, whose film books are of writing merit and controversial analytical descriptions. Not for the last and least important of the elegant Mario Espinosa and the insightful Angel Pérez, young writers of cinema fed up with treble. To the indirect magisterium of Colombian Luis Alberto Alvarez and the Cuban Eduardo Manet, newly discovered by the compilations of Carlos Espinosa Domínguez: El espejo pintado (Editorial Oriente, 2017) and With spectator eyes. Criticisms and essays by Eduardo Manet (ICAIC Editions). To the magazines that have published these film texts such as La Gaveta, Cine Cubano, Revolución y Cultura, Palabra Nueva, La Siempreviva…, as well as prestigious websites such as IPS and cmBF.
To cult films and also to good and minor films recommended by acquaintances, friends and colleagues; those suggested by an acquaintance; to the premieres discovered in the dark cinema room or in my house, I add the daring, the passionate and perhaps some reason in these texts of Sit down and look… Ω

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