Dominican republic like scene of the seventh art
1923 marks the beginning of the film industry in the Dominican Republic, the year in which Francisco Palau directed the first film that can be considered purely Dominican, entitled La aparición de Nuestra Señora de La Altagracia. The success of this movie motivated the director to film again and the following year, Las emboscadas de cúpido was shot, also receiving popular acclaim.
During the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, not a single movie was filmed that can be considered Dominican, though in the late 50s, part of the Mexican series Canciones Unidas, starring Casandra Damirón, was shot around Feria de la Paz..
Upon Trujillo’s death, Franklyn Domínguez brought his monologue La Silla to the screen, starring Camilo Carrau: a searing condemnation of the torture inflicted on many Dominicans during the dictatorship.
In the sixties, some movies were made in the country, such as Caña brava, La canción del Caribe, and Una mujer para los sábados, among others. So many filmings took place during the time that the period can be considered a cinematic boom in the Dominican Republic. At the height of the boom, an alliance was created between the production company La Trinitaria and an Italian company. It was only after this union that productions such as Noa Noa, Samo and El Dios negro, among others, were filmed.
Alberto Lattuada took his place behind the camera to make a miniseries on Christopher Columbus that received international distribution, while the Spanish filmed movies in the country in the same vein as Order to Kill, Las alimañas, Perros de alambre and Vudú sangriento.
Many Latin American countries have shown interest in making films in the Dominican Republic. Puerto Ricans co-produced films such as Tú, mi amor and Enrique Blanco, while Venezuelans filmed El crimen del penalista and Mexicans made 7 orquídeas para un cuervo.
The country is often transformed into Cuba or Vietnam, according to the demands of the scripts, for scores of movies, such as Guaguasí and Los gusanos.
The pinnacle of these filmings arrived with The Godfather 2, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, which won the Oscar. North Americans continued filming in the country and while William Friedkin shot Sorcerer, Wes Craven made The Serpent and the Rainbow.
The series of problems that besieged the filming of Havana, by American director Sydney Pollack, pushed Hollywood away from the Dominican Republic for some years. In the nineties and the beginning of the 21st century only a few production were filmed such as Dreaming of Julia or the Spanish television series “Paraíso”, shot in Río San Juan.
During this time, and due to the success of the national hit Nuebayol, native Dominican production increased, with movies like Para vivir o morir, Cuatro hombres y un ataúd, Nuebayol 3, Víctimas del poder, and Tráfico de niños.
In the field of documentaries, René Fortunato continued working successfully and offering to the public the country´s political history in images. El poder del jefe, La violencia del poder, and La trinchera del honor can be highlighted for the impact they made through scenes recreating years of intense political struggle.
.Beginning in Leonel Fernandez’s second term as president, film activity increased with the creation of the Dirección Nacional de Cine (National Directorate of Film) and the strengthening of the National Movie Theater.
Earlier, the country reclaimed its lost place as a Hollywood setting with the filming of important productions such as The Lost City, Naufragio de amor, La fiesta del chivo, Hacia el sur and Miracle Banana, among others.
In the middle of 2005 came a stage of pre-production films like Miami Vice from Michael Mann and The Good Shepherd, from Robert De Niro.
In addition, new Dominican productions continue to debute, among them La Victoria, Negocios son negocios, Éxito por intercambio, Cristiano de la secreta, Andrea and La maldición del padre Cardona.
Other local projects are in various stages, and the National Directorate of Film is advancing the development and execution of a long-term plan that promotes local productions and allows filming in a series of international productions.
By Arturo Rodriguez