Interrupted Images: Remembering | Recordando a Nicolás Guillén Landrián

A distorted photo of chemistry equipment with glitched green lines running through it. Subtitles at the base say ‘you have created’.


Tuesday 13 June 2023, 2pm - 4pm, In person and Online - Registration required

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Born in Camagüey, in central Cuba, the son of an attorney – a prominent advocate of Camagüey sugar workers – the celebrated Afro-Cuban filmmaker Nicolás Guillén Landrián (1938-2003) worked intermittently at the Cuban National Film Institute (ICAIC) in Havana from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, first as a production assistant and later as a director primarily in the newsreel and scientific documentary division. One of only three Afro-Cuban directors active at the ICAIC in its first decade, Guillén Landrián shot Cuban classics as Ociel del Toa (Ociel of the Toa, 1965); Retornar a Baracoa (Return to Baracoa, 1966); Desde la Habana ¡1969! recordar (From Havana: 1969! Remember, 1969); and the notoriously censored Coffea Arábiga (1968). After leaving Cuba for Miami, Florida in 1989, Guillén Landrián filmed in video, with Jorge Egusquiza, his final and only audiovisual work in exile, Inside Downtown (2001).


In 2020, joining broader international initiatives to decolonize the archive, the ICAIC approved a Cuban restoration of the complete celluloid works of Guillén Landrián from the 1960s and 1970s, spearheaded by Cuban filmmaker Ernesto Daranas. In tandem, Inside Downtown (2001) and The End but not the End (2005), a virtually unscreened documentary with rare footage filmed by Egusquiza on the filmmaker’s final years, were restored by the University of Edinburgh College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Impact Fund (with the support of Africa in Motion [AiM] and Havana Glasgow Film Festival [HGFF], and the Cuban National Film Institute [ICAIC]) in conjunction with the Vulnerable Media Lab (VML), Queen’s University, Canada.


This talk will consider the politics of Guillén Landrián’s figure in relation to the restoration of his complete works with a special emphasis on Inside Downtown.


About the speaker: 

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Dr Jessica Gordon-Burroughs is Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Edinburgh. Her manuscript in preparation is titled Foreign Elements: Latin American Cinematic Experiments in Dis-placement. Her essays have appeared in Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Cinema Journal, Discourse, among other journals and collections. In 2022, Jessica participated in a roundtable in relation to her research on Guillén Landrián at Documenta fifteen, Kassel, Germany, “The Corrosive Gaze of Nicolás Guillén Landrián,” curated by José Luis Aparicio; and later at the Cuban National Film Institute in Havana in the context of the 43rd International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. Her article "The Pixelated Afterlife of Nicolás Guillén Landrián: Migratory Forms" was awarded the 2020 Best Essay in Latin American Visual Culture Studies by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). Jessica is currently the lead researcher for the Project, “De-colonizing the Archive: Restoration of Guillén Landrián’s Inside Downtown and The End but not the End,” supported by the University of Edinburgh 2022 College Impact Fund.

Caribbean Studies Network, TORCH Networks