Agitprop. Art as a weapon of combat in the cinema of Santiago Álvarez and Travis Wilkerson

The CCCB's cinema

Agitprop film combines agitation and propaganda. In the 1930s, documentaries of this type aimed to influence public opinion. Santiago Álvarez and, later, Travis Wilkerson remained faithful to this spirit of provocation for transforming reality. Agitating, creating levels of awareness, counter-informing and mobilising, as Santiago Álvarez said, “without lowering art or preaching pedagogy”. 

A chance meeting in Habana with legendary Cuban filmmaker Santiago Álvarez changed the course of US producer’s Travis Wilkerson’s life. He realised that the artistic avant-garde, which evolves in the field of the symbolic, and the political avant-garde, which acts on concrete reality, could go hand in hand, as the director and founder of the Noticiero ICAIC Latinoamericano always advocated. The first work in this session, Now!, is a short but intense antiracist statement that combines music with a collage of archive images and photo-animation. It is considered a forerunner of the video clip. The second, Machine Gun or Typewriter?, tells a love story in times of the Occupy movement, narrated by a radio presenter broadcasting illegally on pirate radio. Two works that do not shy away from visual aggression, tragicomedy or ideological provocation, and whose titles speak directly to the spectator, with a cry, an exclamation or a question.

Now!, Santiago Álvarez, 1965, 5 min; Machine Gun or Typewriter?, Travis Wilkerson, 2015, 71 min. Video screening. Spanish subtitles.

30 March 2017


The Auditorium
Admission fee

4 € / 3 € Concessions

5-session pass: 15 € / 12 € Concessions

Friends of the CCCB: free of charge

Related content