Cuba's digital destination
Founded in 1997 by the director and member of a once popular comedy group, Orlando Cruzata, the purpose of Lucas was to sponsor and promote the fledgling Cuban production of music videos, and do away with existing prejudices towards music videos. Ever since, it has been the focus of controversy.
Exhibiting a tight balance between the purely commercial intent of some videos and the proximity to video art of others, between the promotion of Cuban musicians and the promotion of video makers, between the so-called “highbrow” and what is considered “popular,” between those who exalt music videos and those who brand it as banal, the show and its crew have achieved one major achievement, which is drawing attention to the domestic production of music videos, in a medium where most productions were foreign and which varied in quality.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges that Lucas faces today is the absence of the late critic, essayist, professor and charismatic communicator Rufo Caballero, who in his appearances on the show always managed to stimulate ideas around the merits and features of videos. Rufo praised what he considered were virtues and criticized, gracefully yet in a straightforward manner, what he felt were failures, and at the same time helped viewers to understand the complexities and demands of the world of music videos.
Rufo’s fans have missed his witty and sharp commentaries regarding one of the nominated videos in the category of reggaeton and a strong contender for the popularity prize—“El chupi chupi.” The song in question unleashed sharp criticism in a debate in which even the Minister of Culture was forced to take part. Considered by its critics as rude, vulgar and other similar adjectives due to the explicit erotic content in the song’s lyrics, it would have been interesting to analyze why a song like that became so popular in a society with such a high level of literacy as the Cuban society. Eventually, the song was disqualified, yet the question still stands.
Beyond the Chupi Chupi incident, however, the 2011 awards testify to the variety and quality of the nominations to the Lucas prize. The ceremony, which took place at Tropicana’s Arcos de Cristal, was a veritable showcase for the diversity of intentions, strategies, production aesthetics and music genres present in the show throughout the year.
The beautiful and coherent music video “Frío,” by singer-songwriter Raúl Torres, directed by Joseph Ross, won the largest number of prizes, which include editing, art direction and general direction, all of which speak highly of its strong dramatic structure and visual production. The best video of the year, directed by Raúl Paz and Joseph Cahill, went to “Carnaval,” which confirms the view expressed on several occasions by Raúl Paz that one can think and have fun at the same time. “Angry Boy,” with the female vocal quartet Sexto Sentido and directed by Alejandro Perez, received the well-deserved prize for best video in the fusion and photography categories, while the excellent design of “Mamífero Nacional,” sung by Buena Fe and directed by Raupa, Nelson, Mola and Tupac, took home the prize for best animation.
It is not my intention here to list all the prize-winning videos, but as always, there was some dissatisfaction among the audience and I am no exception. For instance, I would have liked “La estación” by Adrián Berazaín, directed by Ismar Rodríguez and Wicho; “It’s a Beautiful Day,” by Maylú, directed by Alejandro Perez; the controversial “Mi televisor” by Moneda Dura, directed by Nassiry Lugo; and the excellent “Reverse” sung and directed by X Alfonso, to have won more prizes.
The year 2012 will see the arrival of Lucas’s fifteenth anniversary, which will surely be celebrated by its director and the rest of the crew with new and more daring music videos. For now, TV audiences have already begun to rate the new videos presented on Lucas’s weekly show for the 2012 awards. November 2013