Nelson Rodríguez (born 1938) is an award-winning Cuban film editor who has worked on over 100 films. He was born and raised in Cienfuegos. After working on production he realized his passion for editing, and began his career editing newsreels and documentaries at the Instituto Cubano de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficos (ICAIC), in the 1960s. He has edited over one hundred films, among which are Cuban classics of the New Latin American cinema, such as Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment) (1968) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cecilia (1982) by Humberto Solás, the first film that represented Cuba in the Cannes Film Festival , La primera carga al machete (1969) by Sergio Giral. He also edited films for Latin American directors including La tierra prometida (The Promised Land) (1973) by Miguel Littin, La rosa de los vientos (1983) by Patricio Guzmán, and Danzón (1991) by María Novaro. In 2003 Rodriguez received a tribute from the San Francisco International Festival, for his long trajectory in film editing in Cuba and Latin America, and in 2007 he received an award from the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) and the Cuban Ministry of Culture for his long editing career.
Film editor Nelson Rodríguez is interviewed by Luciano Castillo at Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study on February 27, 2017. Rodríguez looks back at his childhood describing his family life in Cienfuegos, Cuba. He remembers his first film experience as traumatizing, when at five years old was brought to the Disney animated film Dumbo. He recalls the fear he experienced when the image of animals ran towards the audience. He began to go to the movies all by himself at the age of eight, and later on, at nineteen years old he founded a club called Cine Club Vision at La Habana. He discusses his first job in the media industry as a producer for ICAIC- Instituto Cubano de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficos, where he met his mentor Mario Gonzalez, projectionist and film editor, who helped him discover his passion for film editing. Rodríguez recalls working as Gonzalez assistant for three months before he was assigned to edit the weekly newsreels produced by ICAIC, “Noticiero latinoamericano.”
He speaks about his first film work, Historia de una batalla (Story of a Battle) (1962), a documentary directed by Manuel Octavio Gómez, with whom he worked throughout his career. He shares his experience editing Manuela (1966) by Humberto Solas, Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment ) (1968) by Tomás Gutierrez Alea, and one of his most ambitious projects, Lucía (1968), directed by Humberto Solás and co-written by Rodríguez. He goes on to detail his work editing the cinematic version of the TV show Cecilia (1982) which he co-wrote and Humberto Solás directed. It became the first film that represented Cuba in the Cannes Film Festival. Rodríguez also recounts his experience working through the evolution of technology, his nostalgia towards the old techniques, and how much he misses not touching the film, not having a piece of celluloid in his hands. He concludes the interview by sharing how much he had learned during his 50 years as film editor and how proud he is to the first one from the “Islita” (little Island) to be here.