The recipients of this year’s Costa Rican National Culture Awards were announced Jan. 18 by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, and ran the gamut from a literary near-death experience, to a historical crime documentary, to masterful dance performances.
These awards are a yearly recognition by the government of outstanding achievement and tenacity in the cultural sector. The 26 awards include the categories of Cultural Communication, Cultural Management and Promotion, Journalism, Cultural Research, Visual Arts (Bi-dimensional, Three-dimensional), Audiovisual Arts (Production, Direction, Conceptual Realisation), Music (Direction, Composition, Performance), Dance (Performance, Choreography, Design), Theater (Acting, Direction, Costume Design), Literature (Short Story, Novel, Poetry, Essay, Theater), and lifetime achievement.
Here’s a look at this year’s winners.
Amando Céspedes Marín Audiovisual Arts National Award, in the Production category:
The winners are Ernesto and Antonio Jara Vargas for their film “El Codo del Diablo” (“The Devil’s Elbow”). The political/historical documentary tells the story behind the unpunished killing of six political prisioners while being transported from Limón to San José in 1948, right after Costa Rica’s Civil War. The film is the result of three years of researching and includes testimony from the victims’ families.
Carlos Enrique Vargas Music National Award, in the category of Composition:
Edín Solís, for his piece “Preciosa y el Aire,” written to be performed by the Symphonic Orchestra of Costa Rica and two guitars.
Solís graduated from the University of Costa Rica with a degree in in Classical Guitar and Music Education, then studied in Spain and France. He’s one of the founders of the famed Costa Rican group Editus and has been awarded two Grammy Awards, first in 2002 for “Best World Music Album” in the category of Production and Engineering (for his work in “Mundo” with Rubén Blades), and then again in 2003 as producer and mixing engineer in the category of “Best Contemporary Tropical Album.”
Mireya Barboza Dance National Award, in the category of Best Performance:
Laura Murillo, for her performances in “Tlalli,” “Piscis,” and “Taciturno.” Murillo is a professional contemporary dancer and dance teacher, a graduate of the National University of Costa Rica. She works now as a professional dancer at the National Dance Company of Costa Rica, and is co-creator of TRaZo dAnce & aRt proJect. Her choreography “Tlalli,” created and performed along with Melissa Rivera, won the Best Choreography Award at the XXXII Choreography Festival 2015. She is also the creator of works such as “Árbol de agua” and the solo “Piscis.”
Aquileo J. Echeverría Literature Award, in the category of Novel:
Alí Víquez Jiménez, for his novel “El fuego cuando te quema” (“The fire when it burns you”), about a journalist who has a near-death experience. The novel questions the existence of life after death, the existence of a God, and whether there’s actually a religion that can answer these questions. Víquez is a professor at the University of Costa Rica, and the State Distance University.
The full list of recipients:
Joaquín García Monge Cultural Communication National Award: Henry Bastos Ulate, for being a cultural agent promoting innovative initiatives in Costa Rica.
Cultural Management and Promotion National Award: Andrés Fernández Ramírez, for appropriating spaces for the revitalization of tangible and intangible heritage, and identity-expression.
Pío Víquez Journalism National Award: María Isabel Sánchez Reyes, for her research entitled “Journalism in the New Central American War: Conditions in which Journalists Work among the Violence of Organized Crime.”
Luis Ferrero Acosta Cultural Investigation National Award: David Díaz Reyes, for his book “Social Crisis and Memories of Struggle: Civil War in Costa Rica, 1940-1948.”
Francisco Amighetti Visual Arts National Award:
Bi-dimensional category: Marcia Salas Vargas, for her exhibit “Pecado Original.”
Three-dimensional category: Manuel Vargas Murillo, for his exhibit “Las Cholas.”
Other categories: Roberto Guerrero Miranda, for his exhibit “Vergüenza Ajena.”
Amando Céspedes Marín Audiovisual Arts National Award:
Production category: Ernesto and Antonio Jara Vargas, for their film “El Codo del Diablo.”
Conceptual Realization category: José Miguel Gonzáles, for his film “Espejismo.”
Direction category: Esteban Ramírez, for his film “Presos.”
Carlos Enrique Vargas Music National Award:
Direction category: Irwin Hoffman, for his work on “Romeo y Julieta” and “Gran Pascua Rusa.”
Composition category: Edín Solís, for his work “Preciosa y el Aire.”
Performing category: Manuel Matarrita Venegas, for his national and international performances during 2015.
Mireya Barboza Dance National Award:
Best Performance category: Laura Murillo, for her performances on “Tlalli,” “Piscis,” and “Taciturno.”
Best Choreography category: Yul Gatjens, for her choreography “Paloma.”
Best Design category: Ana María Moreno, for her work on “Toc toc… una mirada al revés.”
Ricardo Fernández Guardia Theater National Award:
Acting category: Melvin Jiménez for his performance in “Ñaque o de piojos,” and, the actors of Grupo Teatro del Publico.
Direction category: Natalia Meriño, for her work on “Viola (1234),” and Fabián Salas, for his work on “Algo de Ricardo.”
Costume Design category: Ronaldo Trejos, for his work on “La Segua,” and “Esperando a Godot.”
Aquileo J. Echeverría Literature Award:
Short fiction category: Diego Van Der Laat, for his story “Reparticiones.”
Novel category: Alí Víquez, for his novel “El fuego cuando te quema.”
Poetry category: Mario Salas, for his work “Un adiós a John Lennon.”
Essay category: Carlos Cortés, for his essay “La tradición del presidente. El fin de la literatura universal y la narrativa latinoamericana.” And, Rodrigo Quesada, for his essay “La lógica de la nostalgia (imperial). Literatura y política en el siglo XX.”
Lifetime Achievement Awards:
Magón National Award: Ronald Bonilla, for his work promoting creative literature through workshops and other activities, and for his contribution to the formation of a new generation of Costa Rican poets.
Prieto Tugores Intangible Cultural Patrimony National Award: María Padilla, for her long trajectory spreading and transmitting the knowledge of oral traditions of the Central Valley.