Revolutionary film in El Salvador today

by Devra Weber

from Jump Cut, no. 33, Feb. 1988, pp. 92-99
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1988, 2006

Interview with Lino S., a representative of the Film Institute of El Salvador. March 23, 1986.

DW: How and why was the Film Institute of El Salvador founded?

LS: The Film Institute of El Salvador was founded in late 1980. The FMLN saw a need to record their own revolution and wanted the whole world, principally the American audience, to know what was happening over there. It is one of the very few revolutionary movements which has been recorded on film or video. The primary aim of the film institute is to supply audio visual materials to the solidarity organizations and, in turn, to the North American public.

DW: What materials have the Institute produced?

LS: There are several co-productions made with international filmmakers. El Salvador El Pueblo Vencerá was made with the Institute and filmmakers from around the world. Another was In the Name of Democracy, which was produced, directed and edited by North American filmmakers with most of the footage supplied by the Film Institute of El Salvador. Another film was The Road to Liberty — El Camino de la Libertad. This was entirely a production of the Film Institute of El Salvador.

DW: With the tremendous sacrifices that are being made by the people there, why was filmmaking made a priority?

LS: The media in the U.S. either does not talk about the revolution in El Salvador or, when they do, it is incomplete or distorted. Lately, there has been very little media coverage of the events in El Salvador since the Reagan administration took power. Sometimes the events shown on the news on the major networks are distorted or presented in such a way that they are easily or deliberately misinterpreted.

As a result, filmmaking became one of the many needs that the revolutionary causes had. Definitely not a priority but quite important. The need to record, to have an audio-visual record of the revolutionary process. What's really happening in the zones of control. How the civilian population is being bombed and attacked, how people are disappearing in the cities, how the electoral farce took place. All of that has to be recorded on film.

DW: Were there any particular events which happened which precipitated it or was it more of a general need which people felt?

LS: It was a general feeling that it was necessary to provide truthful information of what was happening in that struggle. At last, some political events were quite important, like the electoral process through which Duarte was elected himself, which was a total farce. That's what In the Name of Democracy deals with. And once you see the film, you have a pretty good insight of what went on in El Salvador in that electoral process which took place. Camino Film Projects made the film in conjunction with the Film Institute of El Salvador. Camino Film Projects here in the United States took care of film production, directing, editing, post-production and the Film Institute of El Salvador provided most of the footage. Some additional footage was shot over here.

DW: How did this co-production come about? How did you decide to co-produce?

LS: The Film Institute saw the need for the American public to know what was going on over there. There was also a powerful need to involve and give access to North American filmmakers to participate in it.

DW: Tell us some more about some other co-productions, and in particular, El Salvador: The People Will Win.

LS: El Salavador: El Pueblo Vencerá is a Film Institute of El Salvador production in which we had help and participation of internationalist filmmakers. El Salvador is a country which has been under all forms of colonialism since the Spaniards first came there. It has a long history of repression and underdevelopment. So it is impossible to expect that a group of El Salvadorians who never manned a camera before could go right ahead and make a complete film. We need help. We need technical help and material help. And for help we turn to the United States.

We need lots of things. It is impossible to process the footage in El Salvador. The most feasible, the most important place for us is to get it processed over here. Camera and lenses and any supplies, raw stock, most of the materials, the main source is in the United States.

DW: Tell us something about making a film in El Salvador.

LS: There is a project underway now which is going towards post-production. It's a project which involves Salvadorian sympathizers who are trying to learn how to know filmmaking. These people had a very short training period. The next step was to get a camera, lenses, sound equipment, recorder, microphone, raw stock, go over there and shoot the reality from their view. We had to sit down together and learn and go for it. The film crew was made up of six people who never had any experience with filmmaking before. The first problem was in acquiring equipment. And again we turned to the United States as the main source and we managed to get cameras and finances and raw stock and all the equipment necessary to make a 16 mm film.

DW: What are shooting conditions like in El Salvador?

LS: Once we managed to get in the zones of control, in the zones of dispute, shooting conditions are the hardest you can imagine. It is very hard to establish continuity. We could shoot one day or half a day. Then we had to bury all the equipment underground and evade an infantry invasion that sometimes lasted from eight to ten days. And then go back to where we were, to the equipment, dig it out, fix whatever was not working, and take it from there and try to shoot another day or half a day. It's very hard to carry that equipment. There were no animals available because most of the animals were killed by Duarte soldiers. So everything has to be carried on our backs with the help of the people. Without the people in the zones of control, we couldn't have made anything. We got plenty of help. The basic priority was to stay alive. The second priority was to maintain the equipment. And the third priority was to stick to the basic concept.

All we learned about filmmaking had to be re-learned and adapted to those conditions. For instance if we decided to shoot this in such and such a place, a sugar mill over here, a plantation over there, we would pack all the equipment and load our backpacks and get somebody to help us and off we go. Before getting over there, we got spotted by airplanes and they bombed the hell out of us. So that caused a week's delay. And we had to salvage whatever was left of the equipment and find out who's hurt and who is not hurt. Finally, we got to the location we went to film, only to find that it had been wiped out by the same bomber who had bombed us. So on the spot, we made the decision to go to the nearest hospital to see who was wounded. At the hospital there was a man who had a piece of shrapnel or bullet in his chest, who was being prepared for surgery. So we had to be flexible and fast enough to catch that. All of this takes place under teribble heat and humidity. Sometimes you have food available and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you are dead tired. Most of the time you're very tired. And most of the time bombing or mortar fire is taking place very near by. So we never knew for sure if we could shoot the next day or not. It was very hard to stick by the original idea and try to save film.

Another problem we had was to store the equipment and store the film that was not being used. Those long retreats when we were evading the army invasions, we could not carry equipment. We could not carry anything because those were long walks which took place during the night, and sometimes they went on for eight to ten days. So we had to quickly find an underground place, or make an underground shelter to bury the equipment and then take off. And remember where it was in order to go back and retrieve it. Once we dug it out of the ground one or two weeks later, we had to open the camera, get inside, get it dry, get all the equipment in working order so we could go on filming. In the meantime, we had to survive mortar attacks, which took place quite frequently, and we tried to move from one spot to another.

Everything that we knew in theory or in practice in other circumstances, it was a different story to do it over there. Like set up camera, do the synching on the microphone, roll camera, roll sound, all of that. Some of us were constantly looking up in the sky to see if the planes were approaching. Sometimes we shot interviews which had bomb sounds in the background. And there was a constant tension that any minute we'd have to interrupt and run for cover. One time we were finishing a four hundred foot magazine, thinking about going to get another one that wasn't nearby, and reload the camera in a small village when the helicopters came above us. Everybody took refuge under the trees. Some of us had thoughts about getting out from under the protection of the trees to shoot the helicopters with the camera. And some of us didn't want to do that. So it was a big dilemma when we finally ran out of film. The next problem was to get out of the area, carry all the equipment with us, reload the camera and survive the second bombing which took place. The sad part about it is that a great percentage of the footage gets lost when we remain there for such a period of time due to terrible storage conditions, heat and the time between exposure and developing it in the lab. And so we assumed beforehand, we were afraid and we knew that some of the footage was going to be lost. It's very painful to through so much trouble to record so much of their lives in the zones of control and then lose a percentage of that stuff. But we knew this was bound to happen before we went over there.

Previous film crews went into the zones of popular control and the zones of conflict for a short period of time. Most people stayed a shorter time because the equipment doesn't last long under those conditions, especially during the rainy season. The rainy seasons are like the monsoons in Vietnam. There's an awful lot of water coming down and the humidity seeps into everything. It lasts three to four months. So maintenance of the equipment was a major problem. But we stayed eleven months … living with the people, just being among them. We wanted to stay longer so that we could get a better understanding of the situation rather than go in and shoot something rather fast. It was not in our plans to stay that long, yet due to the invasions and equipment breakdowns we ended up staying longer.

DW: What was the process of script writing? How was it written? How was it decided what you were going to shoot? What the films were which you wanted to do … which films needed to be made first?

LS: Everything was done through a collective process. Some people had a fairly good idea of what it takes to shoot a documentary. You write a basic script for a backbone so you can hang onto it. And improvise around it, as we were forced to do due to the circumstances. One of the problems we encountered was that we only had 30 cans of film so we couldn't shoot on a high ratio. Everything counted. Every little take, every little scene. We tried our best to make a print … we knew that we couldn't go back to some areas once we left for a retake. Or when we tried to go back to some areas it was totally destroyed. The people were no longer there.

DW: What is the film about?

LS: We don't have a name yet. The film is about people in the zones of popular control … what their life is like. The sugar cane mill … how they produce the sugar blocks and distribute it among the people. And the activities of the blacksmiths, the pottery maker, surgical procedures taking place in certain areas. We also managed to be there when the mayor of Berkeley, Gene Gus Newport, was in the area, and we managed to get some footage of that. We concentrated on shooting the regular activities of people in the zones of control. We did not concentrate on any military aspect. Even though, the military aspect is part of everyday life because, as we all know, it's a war.

DW: As you said, you are shooting a film about people in the zones of control … but they are involved in a war. Aren't you also shooting a war … of how people are protecting themselves?

LS: That was not the main idea. The main idea was to shoot people's lives, their production under this situation. It is impossible to avoid the presence of people with weapons. As you said, it's a war. People resort to weapons because they have to defend themselves.

DW: Sometimes there have been photographs shown of El Salvador, photographs of children and women with guns. And sometimes this is what the media picks up on.

LS: We do not emphasize those aspects because they are not the most important aspects of life at this point. It's a war, so the presence of weapons is part of everyday life. They're armed out of necessity.

We had a chance to shoot an interview with a captured soldier from Duarte's army. He was a 16 year old kid who told us he deserted the army because he had been mistreated. And I was impressed by his young age and also by the fact that most of the kids, people that young, most of the soldiers in Duarte's army, they don't have much of a choice. To be in the army is one of the very few options left for survival. And the way they draft … I saw it happening when I was around San Salvador, watching a soccer game. The army trucks came by and took both teams, in their uniforms and everything, they were drafted on the spot. On the average their age was 16 or 17 years old.

DW: What has the war done to children? Do we need to rethink what war does and how this is reflected in the fact that children have to take up arms?

LS: What Duarte's army is doing to the people, to the civilian population, especially the children, is simply obscene. That's the real terror. When children in the civilian areas, in the zones of popular control, are bombed, they get into panic. They know that the airplane in the sky is going to drop something that will kill them. That's real terror. Yet it's also their reality. We met children who were born under those circumstances. One of the kids asked Gus Newport, "What is it like in Berkeley when children get bombed?" In other words, that's her reality and she doesn't know any other reality.

So teenagers, some of whom have lost their entire families — parents, brothers and sisters — they know that sooner or later they are going to be next in line. In EL SALVADOR: THE PEOPLE WILL WIN there is a scene in which a very young kid decides to join the FMLN. His father got massacred by soldiers and he was left alone with his mother so he decided to join. And that's a very moving scene. He was around 13 years old. He witnessed the killing of his father who was a countryman, unarmed. So it is very sad that children, instead of being taught to read and write have to resort to weapons to survive.

One of the things that stands out is the presence of children who have grown up in the war situation. How is their life, how do they perceive life and the importance given by the FMLN to the raising of children, the future generation, the seeds of the new man that are germinating. We saw children everywhere. Everywhere we went, no matter what the circumstances … bombing or less stressful situation … children were always present, they were extremely responsible, they have tasks to do, yet they are still children. And the extreme care placed by the FMLN upon the raising and educating of the children. That was in my opinion one of the outstanding aspects of this tour, the upbringing, the education and the collective learning that children have. Even though it's a war situation, and massacres taking place, people are not bitter. People have an inner happiness that shows in the tranquil facial expressions they have. It's like the bitterness and the frustrations that are so common in traditional non-revolutionary society do not exist. And children already have a taste of what it is to have their freedom and run their own lives collectively. And that's why they fight so hard and that's why they don't want to let it go at any cost. So the incoming generation, the generation that was born under revolutionary values, is going to be a very valuable bunch of people, and in my opinion they already are examples for the next generations in the rest of Latin America.

DW: You said that this time there was an all El Salvadorean crew, and that previously there had been North American crews or combinations of North American and El Salvadorean. How did the crews differ — that is, El Salvadorean and other crews — in their perceptions of the process of making a film about the struggle in El Salvador?

LS: One of the unique aspects is that they were very eager to work in film. Salvadoreans just love film. On a few occasions they had the chance to get a 16mm projector, and show films to people in the area. Some people had never
seen a film before. And it was a great challenge and a great experience for that particular film crew. It was their first contact with the war, the struggle, and their first contact with filmmaking.

DW: Do the Salvadoreans sometimes have a different perspective of what the film should be about, what they should betray or what's important … than do North American filmmakers? Or are their visions fairly similar?

LS: Let's just say that Salvadoreans are Salvadoreans. They have their language, their culture and their ways of thinking, and North Americans have a different culture and ways of thinking. Nevertheless there is a universal language that can be spoken through film. Films can be understood any place, any time, among any people. The beauty of it is sometimes we are able to work together, and sometimes we enjoy the work done by another culture and we do understand it, and sometimes we speak with our own voice and we have the pleasure of being heard by a different culture. And hope they enjoy it too. And that's what films are all about.

As far as editorial decisions, there is no general rule. The only general rule is to make the final product available to the American public. Who does it and how it's done varies according to the circumstances. Sometimes it is the Salvadorean point of view, sometimes it is the North American point of view. There is a common denominator which is it is a just cause, it's a very resistant people, its a very beautiful people, it's a very beautiful revolution.

DW: How are these films going to be distributed? Is there going to be an effort to distribute these films on television, or to community groups or unions?

LS: The films are available for rental, purchase information, theatrical and television distribution, from Camino Film Projects. The phone is area code 212-865-1975 and the address is PO Box 291575, Los Angeles, California, 90029. And there are several solidarity organizations which have these films available for the North American people. We think these should be made available to a large group of people, to intellectuals, students, the working class, and the bulk of the population in the United States. It would be quite interesting to let this information get to the factory workers, to the construction workers of America, to the different ethnic groups of America, to the Black community, to the Latin community, to unions, factories, schools and so forth. If that is feasible … once we do that, we can say that we are reaching the bulk of the North American population.

I believe in the near future, there will be an emphasis to go on to unions, factories and reach the bulk of Americans who are so misinformed, the working person to whom information is denied or to whom information is presented in a twisted manner. Can you imagine a person who works in a factory which has military contracts with the government, what is it to know that the product of your labor is being used against the civilian population of El Salvador? And think this information should not be denied to these people.

If we concentrate on the people who already know what's going on, that defeats the purpose. We want to get to the American public. We would like very much to get into the North American media and the major networks. As we all know, that's extremely difficult. Yet the footage is out there, available to anybody who wants to see it.

DW: One of the questions that people raise is that the American film audiences have been so inundated by movies, such as Rambo and television, that they are often more concerned with the form itself, rather than the content. Is this something that concerns you and the film institute?

LS: All you have to do is turn on your TV set, and we immediately realize that violence per se, whether it is justified or not, is part of everyday images that are turned at people here, at the Western industrial societies, particularly in the United States.

The American audience is somewhat spoiled by what we could call the perfect form. U.S. films are very well done in technical terms, the color is beautiful, the lenses are the best, the technicians are the best, lighting is close to perfection. So the final product, whether a feature length film or a TV advertisement, looks and sounds extremely good. That's the package. Now the content is another story. But we do know that audiences in general, and that's just not North Americans, are vulnerable to the packaging, the form. And the establishment knows that very well. That's an old story.

The Nazi Germans used that technique. Wiesenthal films in their documentaries had that look, that perfectionist look, in order to get the message and convince the people. Of course they were very inauthentic, and in terms of content the films were against everything we believe in. Nevertheless it was very effective for a long period of time. And it is affecting this society. That's how things are sold to you.

DW: How do you see this problem as being overcome?

LS: It's too much of a pretension, not realistic to us, that our film form is going to be competitive with North American films. Yet there are films made about Latin America, about the political and social struggles of Latin America which do have that. You see a film like Rambo and it's very well shot, very well lit and has the best Panavision lenses available. It looks good and sounds good and has a lot of action, there's never a dull moment, yet the content is pure garbage. If you can use this same technique but adding to it a content which is worth it, this is ideal. Yet we must take into consideration that to reach that sort of audio-visual, technical quality is almost impossible under the conditions existing where we shoot film and the budgets available to us. So it's a combination of shooting in a war situation and economics. We have a $2500, almost obsolete 16mm camera. The good thing about it is that it took a beating and it still works. Amazing. We knew that if we took some very sophisticated film equipment, it wouldn't last more than a few months, and we wouldn't be able to afford the initial investment to start with. The lenses are not the very best available. Again, it's a discussion point where to invest incredible amounts of money to take the best optics under conditions if you know that fungus will grow inside the lenses, or it might get shot and blown apart. It might last a week or two or three or four months. Most of the equipment, we managed to get out of there but all the equipment was in pretty bad shape.

DW: Why and how did El Salvadoreans become involved in the Film Institute?

LS: I think it's easier to get the answer if we know the Salvadoreans, their culture and their behavior and their history. For instance, poetry is a big thing in El Salvador. They love poetry. They love the arts. They love to express themselves in those terms. And filming is another way of expressing those feelings. I met a great number of poets, writers, artists in general, they love film, they love filmmaking, they want to do it. And one of the great motivations that they have is that they have one of the most beautiful revolutions. So why not just write poetry, let's make films about it too. That's their language, their expression. They want to express themselves through film. Why not? Why not let them? Why not help them? They do need help. If only you have a piece of paper, you can write poetry and mail it to the North Americans for their appreciation. That is not going to require an awful lot of technical help. But if you want to make films, that's a whole different story. The world capital of films is right here in Los Angeles. So, why not come over here for help? In return, we might present a Salvadorean expression, interpretation, of the armed struggle that might be something very beautiful. And the product of that, once you first get in touch with this media, may not be the most sophisticated in technical terms, may not be the most beautiful in visual terms, the best sound etc. because it is not an easy media. It involves an awful lot of technicalities and knowledge. Yet the talent, motivation is there. And the subject justifies all this effort.

DW: Why did these particular people get involved in wanting to do films about the struggle there? What was in their own background or interests?

LS: People who get involved are from different walks of life, different economic and social classes and in order to qualify to do so, first of all you must understand a revolutionary process. Sympathize with it, and demonstrate willingness and capacity to work. We would not be realistic to stick only to people who already know a lot about filmmaking. So there is a need to train compañeros who demonstrate an interest or capacity to do that. One of the guys who wanted to become involved in filmmaking came from a campesino family. So he had a very authentic point of view. All we had to do was to overcome certain lack of technical information. There is no great mystery of filmmaking. Other people had a background in theatre. This individual had been previously exposed to the work of a film crew which had been there before us, so he had a pretty good idea of how things are done. And the interesting thing is that different people from different backgrounds had one thing in common which was willingness to work on film, contributing to the revolution by doing so.

There were also people who came from the university. There was one guy who had seen a film crew before working in El Salvador, and he really wanted to do that, he wanted to learn, he participated in other film crews before and he liked to get involved with filmmaking. And he had a very good basic idea of it … So this very film crew, even though they never shot a film together before, had an incredible responsibility on their shoulders in an extreme situation. Throughout the eleven months the motivation was always there. The sense of responsibility was always there. Food or no food. Bombings, mortars, landmines, etc., the motivation remained and finally we got the film out and finally we got it processed. So it's a great mission accomplished.

DW: You talked about some of these films being prepared mostly for North American audiences. But are these also films shown in El Salvador in the zones of control, and how do you think they affect people's perception of the war, people's perception of their own struggle?

LS: That's very important to show films to people who are in the films, the people that are filmed. They always want to see themselves. Most of the people never saw film before. As a matter of fact, there is a scene in the previous film which shows the reaction of people once they've seen a film. And that is an endless pleasure to show a film to people over there. The reactions are very difficult to describe. It's very difficult to do so. You cannot carry a screen around. You have to find a house that is still standing up and project on a wall. It's hard to get a generator to run a projector and the projector won't last too long. The film will deteriorate rapidly.

Several films have been shown to the civilian population in the zones of popular control. So it's a very positive reaction. Now as far as showing it, to have a widespread distribution in the capital, San Salvador, and so on and so forth, it would be totally impossible to show one of those films in a regular theatre in San Salvador for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, there are alternatives, which is to transfer films to video and distribute them. This is in the works.

DW: And this would be both in the zones of popular control and also in the urban areas?

LS: Mostly in the urban areas, because the idea would be to show this film to the largest number of people possible, whether on film or on video. It depends on the circumstances, the local circumstances. It's very common for people to have a VCR at home in San Salvador, and they have a whole bunch of video rental houses all over the place. It's amazing … the home video thing is big in Latin America. The interesting thing is that most of it is in Beta instead of VHS, which is the most common form here.

DW: When people see the films they are excited about seeing themselves and people they know. But in some ways, does seeing the film also help change or develop how they perceive the revolution as a whole and how they perceive their participation in the revolution, their relationship to it?

LS: Very much so. It brings in more cohesion and a greater sense of participation. I remember days in which battle scenes were shown to combatants and that increased, even more, their motivation. People from other areas would come in to watch a film, and that particular film had scenes of production in some parts of the zones of control. So people in other areas would get a pretty good idea about what was going on in other parts of the country. Again, we're talking of mass communication applied under difficult circumstances. It's a very small country, very densely populated. Yet due to the war situation, communications are not that easy. Sometimes you don't know what's happening at the other end of the country and to get a video or film that shows that lets people know that compañeros in other parts of the country are struggling as much as they are. And it creates more unity, a greater sense of cohesion.

DW: What about covering life from the point of view of women? Of what happens to women in a revolution. In your film you cover the daily life of women … making tortillas, cooking, caring for children. But are you also touching on how the revolution has changed the lives of women, of how women enter the revolutionary struggle? How it has begun to change relationships between men and women and within the communities.

LS: We did not cover all of those things specifically. It's a very short, unpretentious film and it's impossible to cover all aspects of life over there. Yet, something becomes clear, which is that even though women did not abandon the tasks that were once exclusive to women, they maintain those activities, but on top of that they do participate in aspects of life that they did not before. Decision-making process, collective decision-making process, made by groups of women in the zones of popular control. The person who welcomed Gus Newport, Maria Serrano, was the leader of the local popular government. Traditionally in Salvadorean politics, and politics in general in Latin America more specifically, women were pretty much left out. It all boils down to the fact that everything we learn in theory or read or, ideally, thought about, is being done in practice over there at this point. And the women's issue is just one more aspect that is being put in practice.

DW: You mentioned that you wanted to form a crew to teach women how to make film and to become involved in filmmaking in El Salvador. What sort of films do you envision that crew making?

LS: I myself don't envision the films. I think that one could try to make a film or video or anything that would portray the role of women but I don't think it could be done better than if women do it themselves. So when I talk about training a film crew made up of women, I'm talking about the concepts, the basic concepts of filmmaking, technical, empirical … film sense, film form, editing and camera operating, lighting and so on and so forth … writing and discussing the basic ideas. And that's as far as it would go. From then on, it would be totally their responsibility to imprint their point of view upon their work.

DW: Have you talked with some of the women who might be involved about the kind of films they would like to make?

LS: In the zones of popular control, as far as women's liberation and women's roles are concerned, it's like a totally different universe than traditional Salvadorean society, the pre-revolutionary society. In the liberated areas women do what they do because they had to conquer, step by step, their positions, their position they are in now. So what we see over there is not women's liberation per se, it's people's liberation as everybody goes toward total liberation. It's kind of a natural thing that women are a great part of that, so it's not anything separate, you can't conceive women's liberation without men's liberation without children's liberation, total liberation. So there is a lot of unity. One thing that was strikingly apparent, obvious, was that the treatment given to women by the compañeros was completely different than what you see in other parts of the country that aren't liberated yet. So it's obvious women conquered a position that does not exist out of the revolutionary areas, the revolutionary environment.

DW: And that would be in the films, too?

LS: We didn't go specifically for that, but it is reflected in the film. It's quite obvious. At this point, up to now, the orientation of the Film Institute of El Salvador, basically, is to make possible the filming and the recording of video or whatever of the war, of the revolutionary process. In order to do so, ideally, we would have to create a certain number of film crews, not just one, which would be constantly shooting, constantly recording on video, super-8, 16mm, whatever, footage that would reflect the progress of the revolution. At this point that is the main concern rather than becoming a producing company.

DW: What are some of the future projects that are planned?

LS: The projects will be dictated by the necessities of the revolution. They are putting together a list of priorities. It's very nice to be talking about more films, yet the harsh realities and priorities are medicine for the people, food for the children, shoes, and things like that. I felt awkward when I was holding a very expensive still camera in my hands and I was around children who didn't eat the day before and were not going to eat the next day and they were barefoot and in the need of medicine. So we can talk about future projects, but we must keep in perspective that it is a war, that the civilian population is being bombed, is being relocated, is being massacred, and the priorities as far as film and video are concerned is to record those realities.

DW: Does the Film Institute have certain priorities, certain goals, certain ideas for films, films they feel should be made for the North American audience?

LS: We would like to hear from North Americans what it is that they want. There is a constant contact with the North Americans, a constant dialogue. Sometimes this dialogue is not totally rewarding or it's interrupted because, again, there is a war going on, so those are not ideal communication conditions. Sometimes things take much longer than we would like them to take. Sometimes we run into frustrating situations. But if we keep in perspective that it is an ugly war against the armed people going on, then we accept that and we understand that. I just want to add that the revolutionary process is already irreversible at this point. It is not a question of if, it is a question of when and at what cost. So filmmaking comes as an accessory, not as a priority.

There are ideas being formulated based on necessities, based on research, and without being overly optimistic I can tell you that more films are going to be made by North Americans, by internationalists, by Salvadoreans, and more help is going to be supplied to us, and more footage will be supplied by us. And I'm pretty sure that some of the projects that are being thought right now one day will become reality with the help and participation of North American organizations in solidarity.

From Jump Cut no. 34

We printed Devra Weber's interview with Lino of the Film Institute of El Salvador in JUMP CUT, No. 33, without mentioning the important fact that the Institute ceased to exist after the end of 1986. It was replaced by the Unidad de Cine y TV de El Salvador, a unified media organization for the FMLN-FDR. Any one wanting more information about this organization should contact the El Salvador Media Project, 335 West 38th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY, 10018, (212) 7149118. We hope to carry an article about the Unidad in a future issue.