Film: Ana A. Alpízar’s “El pescador” 


Manuel Betancourt briefly reviews Ana A. Alpízar’s short film El pescador [The Fisherman] and interviews the director for Remezcla. The Fisherman screens as part of the Shorts Program 3 at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Here are excerpts from the article and interview:

A parent’s sacrifices often happen off-screen. At least in their children’s eyes. Whether it’s putting food on the table or finally getting enough money to get you the dress you really wanted, their trials and tribulations are kept outside of the purview of young kids. In Ana A. Alpizar’s short film El pescador (The Fisherman), we see one such sacrifice. While a young Cuban girl practices the singing and dancing routine she’s set to perform later that week, her father sets out to sea to nab a fish he’ll need to sell if he’s to get the money the cash-strapped family needs to afford the dress she’ll wear.

Taking place mostly at night, while the eponymous protagonist (Carlos Vigón) tries to catch something — anything! — this quiet portrait of a doting father is intimate and unassuming. But with its opening long shot introducing the family dynamics at work in this Cuban household (daughter singing, mother kneading dough, father getting ready), the short achieves a cinema verité aspect. It dispenses with a score, and even dialogue for much of it, letting you take in the sounds of a lonely fishing boat in the middle of the night.

The Fisherman screened at this month’s Sundance Film Festival, and we got a chance to chat with Alpizar ahead of her trip to Park City. In Cuba, she remarked, filmmakers tend to be rather removed from the hustle and bustle of film festivals like Sundance, so she was giddily looking forward to seeing the nuts and bolts of the American film industry up close and personal. Talking about her career and her process, the Cuban-born filmmaker told us about the personal inspiration behind this short, why certain restrictions made the shoot quite challenging, and how the Cuban independent cinema scene has changed in the last few years. [. . .]

Where did the idea for The Fisherman come from?

Well, my dad is a fisherman. This is a story that’s very much about us. I grew up in that world, very close to it. But, as a girl, I despised it. I truly hated that whole fishing world. So this was a way to give my father a kind of gift because he sacrificed so much for us. In fact, he’s an economist but in the 90s things were so difficult here in Cuba that professionals everywhere had to find other sources of income. When I was little, I hated this. I hated that my father was a fisherman. But he gave up his life to raise me. [. . .]

For full interview, see

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