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Francisco Arturo Palau ...
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The history of the first dominican filmmakers Francisco Palau, (1879-1937)

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Documentary | Short

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17 July 1985 (Dominican Republic)  »

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$50,000 (estimated)
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Memories Vanish ....by Armando Almánzar.
4 August 2007 | by (Dominican Republic) – See all my reviews

The title of this article makes reference to words by Pedro Troncoso Sánchez to the Hernández twin. They chat, remembering about Francisco Palau, and some details escape them, they can't remember them: "Memories vanish …" And memory is treacherous and those who carry memory as live testimony of the past will in due time also disappear. That's why we can't leave everything to living memory, to remembrance; that's why we should organize files to preserve our past. Unfortunately, we have begun to realize this at a time when we have already lost much.

Because in large part, that is what René Fortunato is telling us with his short film "Tras las huellas de Palau" ("On the Trail of Palau"). Where are the movies Fortunato is referring to in this short film? It was Francisco Palau, as Fortunato correctly indicates, who was the first Dominican filmmaker: in 1923 he made "La leyenda de la Virgen de La Altagracia" ("The legend of the Virgin of La Altagracia"), in 1924 "Las emboscadas de Cupido" ("Cupid's Ambushes").

Mr. Pedro Troncoso Sánchez points out that the plots of both films are trivial, childish, foolish. But now that's not what is important. At any rate, the immense majority of the first films made throughout the world were also childish and unimportant, as are many that are shown today with resounding success and popularity.

What is important now is that, in those other parts of the world, those pieces of nonsense filmed by the daring pioneers of the film industry then now form part of their cultural wealth, because they constitute the foundation of what they are now from the cinematographic point of view.

And, if this is done by countries with enormous an motion picture industry, such as France, the United States, England, the Soviet Union, Spain, etc., we, who are barely getting out feet wet in terms of film making, with rickety film production, ought to have protected those films of Francisco Palau.

Now, when it's probably too late, this short film by René Fortunato brings us back something from long ago, fragments of a lost period, images that now are history. And we see Francisco Palau himself walking along those streets and passing by one of the posters from a Mary Pickford movie, and we wonder, who knows, if we had been borne just a bit further north, and much further east, perhaps he, Francisco Palau, could have been the photographer or the producer for "Secrets," the film starring Mary Pickford. For, evidently, Palau had talent, he had imagination and creativity, as if he had not, he would never have been able to make two films in a country where, even today, barely three or four feature-length films have been made.

Let us then take up the thread that Rene Fortunato holds out to us, and try by all means to recuperate our values. Which, even if today is not possible to find the two movies by Francisco Palau, at least let us not forget those others which continued his work: Oscar Torres, Max Pou, Jean-Louis Jorge, and many others.

For that reason, we are grateful for this work by René Fortunato. His efforts, and the obvious lack of basic material of the period focused on are like a wake-up call: "Memories disappear…", we must preserve what we have while we still have time to do it.

By Armando Almánzar LISTIN DIARIO Wednesday July 17, 1985


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