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Pérez Ureta, goodbye to a master

RaulitoThe first cinematographer in Cuba to win the National Film Award is the architect, in images, of a good number of Cuban films that remain forever in the imagination of viewers

Starting from scratch, film after film, Raúl Pérez Ureta got better, working to become an essential director of photography, to whose death, at 79 years of age, we can only respond by putting a hand to the chest and taking a long bow.

Pérez Ureta is the architect, in images, of a good number of Cuban films that remained forever in the imagination of viewers. The composition of lighting, shots, counterplanes, angles, the blessed magical ability to capture the aesthetic thinking of directors, suggesting variants and even going beyond the original proposals.

The story of this modest, deliberate man is that of many young people who, following the triumph of the Revolution, had the opportunity to change the uncertain destiny he had previously faced, given his humble origins.

From the foothills of the Escambra, he came to Havana to work as a janitor who one good day decided to knock on the door of the new Cuban Film Institute (Icaic). He got started by doing whatever was needed – assistant cameraman for cartoons – until Santiago Alvarez ran into him in a hallway, desperate because he urgently needed a soundman. The young Raúl assured him that he knew more than he really did, and from then on, became a member of the impetuousdirector’s crew.

An entire school of young people learned to do things on the fly alongside Alvarez, especially in the production of the Noticiero Icaic newsreel. This was where Pérez Ureta made his great contribution, as cameraman for more than 800 editions between1965 and 1984.

His resume includes work as head of photography for more than forty documentaries (and the same number as cameraman or soundman) and, his greatest achievement, as director of photography, in seventy fictional works in which he left an imprint of the highest quality. Suffice it to mention, among them, La película de Ana, Mujer transparente, La vida es silbar, Un paraíso bajo las estrellas, Martí, el ojo del canario, Suite Habana, Amor vertical and Hacerse el sueco.

Raúl contributed to international cinematography, as well, for many years simultaneously teaching at the San Antonio de los Baños International Film School.

In 2010, he became the first cinematographer in Cuba to win the National Film Award and today, on the occasion of his departure, it is comforting to say goodbye to this man and friend, recalling how he lived his life and left a remarkable body of work.

(Taken from Granma)

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