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Ism, Ism, Ism: Havana Solo: the films of Juan Carlos Alom

Ism, Ism, Ism: Havana Solo: the films of Juan Carlos Alom

Habana Solo, by Juan Carlos Alom

Friday, January 12, 2018, 8:00 pm

At the Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, CA 90026

Filmmaker Juan Carlos Alom in person!

INFO:, 323-377-7238 

Juan Carlos Alom is a Cuban photographer and filmmaker weaves together his unmistakable personal voice with collective concerns in his hand-processed 16mm black and white films. This survey presents his some of principal works, beginning with Habana Solo / Havana Solo(2000), in which Alom blends his fascination with the urban harmonies of Havana with a rhythmic exploration of the Afro-Cuban presence in Cuban society. In Diario / Diary (2009), he presents interior landscapes of Cuba, and its rural workers, who are transformed in a lyrical reflection on the final visit to the Island by Cuban Independence hero José Martí. In the USA, Santiago Álvarez’ experiments in the Newsreel Division of the ICAIC [the Cuban National Film Institute] are best remembered and most valued.  Alom’s Lo más alto que tú vuelas/The Higher You Fly (2001) references Nicolás Guillén Landrián, Álvarez’ contemporary, another master of montage.  A major figure in Cuban film production in the 1960s and 1970s, Guillén Landrián's work has begun to circulate internationally only in the last decade, and, in Cuba, it has become a beacon for filmmakers of future generations, of which Alom is one of the most notable examples.

Juan Carlos Alom says of his work: ​“​The art of creating and interpreting images is akin to translating my spirit. My camera is the compass that guides me and I am grateful to it. Everywhere I have lived, I have delivered myself to light, shadows and to those details that, however minimal they may seem, have made me tremble and convert them into images.​ ​I had hardly begun working as a photojournalist when the scarcity brought about by the Soviet Union’s collapse obliged me to experiment, shaping my artistic vision into one that is driven by precariousness, spontaneity and the necessity to focus on distinct themes such as Afro-Cuban religion, youth, displacement. Even more than those isolated themes, my idiosyncrasy, as both a filmmaker and photographer, entails the quest to document the impossible. For instance, in Habana Solo, I tried to concretize the most intimate musical expression through my cinematographic images and to convert the city’s noises into music, but my persistent dissatisfaction with concretizing the impossible led to my photographic series entitled Dressing Room where photographs of musicians in ‘private’ attempt to peak into the depths of their individual expression.​”​ 

"​Alom typically works with hand-processed black-and-white 16mm footage, and is perhaps best known for his experimental films, which deploy forms that range from the diaristic essay (Diario, retracing the route of Jos​é​ Mart​í​’s last visit to Cuba) to the city-symphony  (Havana Solo). Atypical of his work is Lo más alto que tu vuelas, a short dedicated to​ Cuban experimental filmmaker Nicolás​ Guill​é​n Landri​á​n and which recycles segments ​o​f Desde la Havana ¡1969! Recordar.​" ---Luisa Marisy​

Juan Carlos Alom’s visit made possible by a grant from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

There will be a second different screening with Alom on Sunday January 14.

There is a 16mm workshop with Alom at the Echo Park Film Center, January 12-14.  Information at

Tickets: $5 general, students, seniors.  Free for Filmforum members.  Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at or at the door.

This screening is part of Los Angeles Filmforum’s screening series Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina). Ism, Ism, Ism is an unprecedented, five-month film series—the first in the U.S.—that surveys Latin America’s vibrant experimental production from the 1930s through today. Revisiting classic titles and introducing recent works by key figures and emerging artists, Ism, Ism, Ism takes viewers on a journey through a wealth of materials culled from unexpected corners of Latin American film archives. Key historical and contemporary works from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, México, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the United States will be featured. Many of the works in the series are largely unknown in the United States and most screenings will include national and area premieres, with many including Q&A discussions with filmmakers and scholars following the screening. The film series will continue through January 2018 at multiple venues, organized by Filmforum.

Ism, Ism, Ism is accompanied by a bilingual publication, Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza, editors, University of California Press, 2017) placing Latino and Latin American experimental cinema within a broader dialogue that explores different periods, cultural contexts, image-making models, and considerations of these filmmakers within international cinema. Available worldwide,

Ism, Ism, Ism is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Explore more at,, and

Lead support for Ism, Ism, Ism is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.

Significant additional support comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

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Coming Soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:

Jan 11 – Thurs, 7:00 pm - Estrellas del ayer: Latin Camp – at MOCA (presentation partner: Outfest)

Jan 12-14 - Juan Carlos Alom workshop - at the Echo Park Film Center

Jan 12 – Fri 8:00 pm - Ism, Ism, Ism: Havana Solo: Films by Juan Carlos Alom - at the Echo Park Film Center

Jan 14 – Sun, 7:30 pm - Developing Works - Student films from Cuba -  at the Echo Park Film Center

Jan 16 – Tues, 7:30 pm - Fernando Birri's ORG – at the Downtown Independent (co-presented with Acropolis Cinema)

Jan 19 – Fri, 7:30 pm - Super 8 films, with Pablo Marin, guest – at the UCLA Film & TV Archive

Jan 20 – Sat, 3:00 pm  - Meta Cinema (Luis Ospina guest)– at the UCLA Film & TV Archive

Jan 20 – Sat, 7:30 pm - Luis Ospina – at the UCLA Film & TV Archive

Jan 21 – Sun, 3:00 pm - Misreadings & Book launch -– at the UCLA Film & TV Archive

Jan 21 – Sun, 7:30 pm – Films by Narcissa Hirsch (Federico Windhausen guest) – at the UCLA Hammer  Museum

Jan 28 - Ism, Ism, Ism: Bilingual Aesthetics: Negotiations Between Languages - at the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian