Eduardo del Llano has made incursions into acting, teaching, audiovisual direction and scriptwriting, poetry, plays, stories and novels.
Eduardo del Llano’s last acknowledged adventure in art is his film Vinci, on Leonardo, the painter of the Mona Lisa and other masterpieces, but also an author of sculptures, an explorer of human anatomy, and a designer of artifacts of every type, too subtle and complex for his times. That is why he is considered the incarnation of the “Renaissance Man.” But, following his own ways and towards the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st, Eduardo del Llano, who was born in Moscow in 1962 and lives in Havana, is a present replica of the Quattrocento model inspiring his film.
Del Llano made himself known in the ‘80s as the founder and director of NOS-Y-OTROS, a sophisticated humorous group which combined literary and theater creation. He graduated in History of Art in 1985 and in the ‘90s he was teaching Latin American Art and History of Photography in the Havana University Faculty of Arts and Letters. He has offered courses on scriptwriting in Nicaragua and the United States and acted as an advisor in the International Film and Television School in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba.
As a scriptwriter, his collaboration with Fernando Perez – in films like La vida es silbar (Life is Whistling) and Madrigal – and Daniel Díaz Torres in Alicia en el pueblo de Maravillas (Alice in Wondertown), Kleines Tropicana, Hacerse el sueco (Playing Swede) and Lisanka, is highly regarded. He also organized the independent producing company Sex Machine which brought him fame as a filmmaker of Nicanor’s Decalogue shorts (among them Monte Rouge, Brainstorm…)
But I bring him to this section because, on top of this all, Eduardo del Llano is a prolific writer who has received the awards Abril (1988, 1992), Italo Calvino (1996, Italy), Calendar from the AHS (1997) and the Revolución y Cultura Short Story Award. His literary work encompasses the most dissimilar genres and styles: from the humorous novel Aventuras del caballero del Miembro Encogido (Adventures of the Kinght with the Shrunk Member, written in collaboration with NOS-Y-OTROS and published in 1993), through poetry, Nostalgia de la babosa (The Blenny’s Nostalgia -- 1993), children literature, El elefantico verde (The Little Green Elephant – 1993), science fiction, Obstáculo (Obstacle – 1997) to short story: El beso y el plan (The Kiss and the Plan, 1997), Los viajes de Nicanor (Nicanor’s trips, 2000), Todo por un dólar (Everything for a Dollar, 2006) and novels: Los doce apostates (The Twelve Apostates – 1994); Tres (Three – 2002) and El universo de al lado (The Universe Next Door – published in Madrid in 2007).
As a literary creator, Eduardo del Llano never leaves his humorous leanings aside, but is able to transcend the fleetingness of cheery gags or pure anecdotes thanks, among other things, to his unquestionable ingenuity and the subtleness with which he understands that a good idea for the plot also requires a sustained development and an excellent ending.
THE CONVENTICLE (FRAGMENT)
With the exception of an occasional snoring and of chewing noises, Ana had always been a correct bed partner. We are talking, of course, of her presence in the full context and limits of night rest, not of her performance in those events with a private and bipartite nature which usually precede sleep, on which, the development, we have no authorization to issue a report although, given Ana’s physical appearance, we could not but put forward the most flattering opinion.
Nicanor was a simple man just as he had been a simple student. Although he did not have the qualification for being considered dumb, there was no danger of having him nominated for the Nobel Prize. Also, his profession as fine collector for the state was not one which historically contributed to the list of nominated for this specific distinction: this is only a way of saying that Nicanor, in what has to do with intellectual virtues, was entirely mediocre. Also, he followed a handful of universal ethical principles: he adored Ana, and mistrusted God and ideologies. His was a safe marriage with tolerable doses of happiness and anger.
The situation we have described began to change that night, about three a. m. Let us stop the scene, which will be rather difficult for us: Nicanor is reading a film magazine dated some years before, of the type you find in doctors offices or in magazine holders placed between armchairs. Ana is sleeping. Suddenly, Nicanor’s table lamp starts to blink. Nicanor extends his hand to switch it off and, right then, Ana rises on her elbows, stares at Nicanor and says:
“Light tastes better than rotten tomatoes.”
Nicanor’s right hand stops, hesitates like reordering its priorities and moves back to its owner. Nicanor turns around analyzing the sentence. He looks at his wife, who is staring at the dark TV screen.
“What light,” he cautiously asks.
“The light,” Ana repeats. Her words have a serious and pontifical tone her husband does not remember hearing since her answer to the notary public.
“Do you want me to switch it off?”
But Ana does not answer now. Her head, on the pillow again, shows she is sleeping. And her husband’s little table lamp ends up screwed up.
Translated by Gertrudis Ortega