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Pastor Vega, 65; Cuban Filmmaker Ran Festival

June 05, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Pastor Vega, one of the leading figures in Cuban filmmaking, who was known for such movies as "Portrait of Teresa," has died. He was 65.

The director and screenwriter died Thursday in Havana of undisclosed causes, the International Press Center said in a statement, calling him "one of the main figures in the great moments of Latin American film in the last 40 years."

His 1979 "Portrait of Teresa" was his first feature-length movie and brought him international attention when it was shown at film festivals around the world. The wry, humorous feminist picture starred his wife, Cuban actress Daisy Granados, and became one of the most popular movies ever shown in Cuba.

The director followed "Portrait" with other works, which also starred his wife, including "Habanera," "Love in a Minefield," "Parallel Lives" and "Amanda's Prophecies."

Vega also ran Cuba's Festival of New Latin American Cinema from its inception in 1979 through 1990.

"Everybody overseas thought that people were not happy here, that Cuba was a big jail," Vega told The Times in 1995. "I decided to make a festival that was a film, theater, music, alcohol and sex festival, all together at the same time. In my opinion, that was cultural."

Born Feb. 12, 1940, in Havana, Vega began his career in theater in 1958 with the Cuban collective Teatro Estudio. He did some acting, but preferred the production part of the business.

He moved into film as an assistant director of several documentaries, and directed his own documentary, "The War," in 1961.

In recent years, he had returned to the theater, directing his wife and others in plays by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Vega's son, Aaron, followed his parents into filmmaking as an actor and director.

The Havana Film Festival in New York honored Pastor Vega in April for his contributions to Cuban filmmaking and for helping to found Cuba's government-sponsored national film institute.

In addition to his wife and son, Vega is survived by another child.

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