Wagner College’s Film & Media Studies program is developing an exchange program with Cuba’s Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión (International School of Film and TV). The agreement will facilitate short-term workshops in Cuba by Film Studies classes as well as, eventually, full-semester courses of study by individual Wagner students enrolled at EICTV.
Famed throughout Latin America for its filmmaking program, EICTV has been a major proponent of the adaptation of Italian neorealist film in developing a new Latin American cinema. The school was founded in 1986 by a small group of Latin American writers and filmmakers, including Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez. It is located outside San Antonio de los Baños, a small city about 23 miles south of Havana.
The initial connection between Staten Island’s Wagner College and Cuba’s foremost filmmaking school was documentary filmmaker Sarah Friedland, director of Wagner’s Film & Media Studies program. Friedland first studied in Cuba as an undergraduate exchange student at the University of Havana. She went on to enroll at EICTV before working with Estela Bravo, an American who has lived in Cuba since the 1959 revolution making dozens of highly acclaimed documentary films, including “Fidel: The Untold Story” (2001).
“An exchange program with EICTV will give our students an amazing opportunity,” Friedland said. “This is one of the best film schools on the planet. It would be hard to find another institution, anywhere, that could match its resources.
“Add to that the chance to live and study in Cuba during this time of historic transition — it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Some Wagner-Cuba exchange activities have already taken place. An exploratory visit in December 2014 led to a 4-day arts administration workshop in Cuba last June conducted by Wagner College, attended by 40 students. And two EICTV graduates have recently screened their work at Wagner College: narrative filmmaker Laura Amelia Guzmán (“Jean Gentil,” 2010) and documentary filmmaker Irene Gutiérrez Torres (“Hotel Nueva Isla,” 2014). Gutiérrez is the coordinator of EICTV’s graduate program in documentary filmmaking.
Details of a broader exchange program will be fleshed out later this year when Friedland brings Wagner College President Richard Guarasci, Provost Lily McNair, Vice President for Internationalization Ruta Shah-Gordon and Film & Media Initiatives Director Stephen Greenwald with her to Cuba to meet EICTV co-founder and legal adviser Juan Grillo Tadeo during the Havana International Film Festival.