When a friend goes

By: Jorge Villa

Gustavo Andújar has said goodbye to us. For some the president of OCIC-Cuba since 1994, for others the director of the Espacio Laical y de Ecos Magazine and for many the world president of SIGNIS from 2014 to 2017. For me, a friend, to whom I was united by the enormous passion that we both felt for the movies.

We met one cold winter afternoon at the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. We were introduced to a mutual friend, Juan José Rodríguez Menéndez, known by the nickname Joannes. I had just turned 20 and he was 22. All three of us were united by our interest in cinema, but not only because of its artists, directors, technique, but also because of its peculiar way of telling stories through cinematographic language, ideal for express and experience a spirituality.

Our gatherings were common on Sunday afternoons, generally at the end of the Mass of the Holy Cross, where we commented on the last film released or what we had been able to hear on the radio short wave of the last film released beyond our borders. or the awards of the Cannes Festival.

When the Oscar awarding approached, we would meet at Gustavo’s house with other friends, to be able to capture, through a handmade antenna built by him, the events of the award. Generally we ended up frustrated and watching the odd movie that came in instead of the award ceremony. But that appointment was repeated year after year, until the time of the video, by then the award was circulating in Beta format.

Gustavo y Chelita, su esposa.
Gustavo and Chelita, his wife.

With the passage of time and the responsibilities that taking on a family and the arrival of children brings, we separated, each one took his own way, but our passion for cinema brought us together again, this time through OCIC-Cuba and the impulse of that great passionate woman of the cinematographic apostolate that was Gina Preval.

We work together for various events, festivals, congresses, assemblies of associates of Catholic communicators and as essayists, critics, researchers of the ECOS Magazine. It was a long collaboration from the end of the 80s of the last century until today, where not everything was rosy, where sometimes there were points of very different criteria that caused friction and distancing at times, but that he saved with his fine sense of humor when saying: “Well, Karl Marx said that the unity and struggle of opposites is the basis of development.”

He applied that sense of humor several times to play jokes on me, and when he was going to introduce me to other colleagues, he would say to them: “If you want to put Jorge Villa in your pocket, tell him that your favorite actress is Ann Sheridan”. charismatic and beautiful redhead from the 40s of the last century. That was how he was a joker when he was among friends.

He is no longer here, and as Alberto Cortés says, when a friend leaves he is not replaced by the arrival of another friend. I will always miss him, but it comforts me to know that he is well, in the House of Our Creator.

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