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Manuel Trujillo Durán

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Manuel Trujillo Durán
Manuel María Segundo de la Trinidad Trujillo Durán

(1871-01-08)8 January 1871
Died14 March 1933(1933-03-14) (aged 62)
Known forPioneering film in Venezuela
Notable work
possibly Un célebre especialista sacando muelas en el gran Hotel Europa and Muchachos bañándose en el lago[1]

Manuel Trujillo Durán (Maracaibo, 8 January 1871 – 14 March 1933)[2][3] was a Venezuelan photographer and is considered one of the country's pioneers in film.


At age 14, Trujillo began studying at the Colegio Federal de Varones. He then embarked on his photography career, founding his "El rayo de luz" photo studio in 1896, in front of the Baralt Theatre.[3][4] Here, he would produce and develop images for his magazine of the same name from 1897.[3] It is suggested that he built the studio himself, as he was eager and attentive to carpentry.[4] He also founded the Gutenberg newspaper. Several of his photographs were used in other publications, too, including national ones.[3][5] He then founded the Trujillo y Arraga photographic hall, with the painter Julio Arraga, as an exhibition centre for "photographic art and artistic creation [to come] together".[4] In the 1897 Commercial Directory of American Republics, his registered profession is photographer.[6]:1366

Film pioneering

Trujillo was a photographer by trade and an associate of Luis Manuel Méndez who learned how to use a Vitascope, and be a film technician,[3] when Méndez acquired one and brought it to Venezuela in 1896.[1] For many years[note 1] it was believed that Trujillo had brought the technology to Venezuela himself, and this still appears in some records,[1][8] but as film scholarship appeared in the nation records showed Méndez to have been the man who got the film projector in New York City.[1] Trujillo's past relationship dealing with the Edison Company is evidence used to support his pioneering claims;[8] as well as travel records, Méndez had ties to the Kinetoscope Company, which produced and sold the projectors.[1][9]

It is perhaps fortunate that Méndez brought the technology to Maracaibo, where Trujillo lived, allowing Trujillo to become the second man in Venezuela to be able to show films, and so he can be counted as a pioneer in this way. It is also possible that Trujillo produced the first Venezuelan films, shown in Maracaibo in 1897,[1] or that he worked on them with his brother Guillermo.[10] However, film scholarship considers this "very unlikely" due to the facts he would not have had a cinema camera and that he was in Táchira when the films were screened.[1] His reason for being in Táchira, though, was to distribute and promote the Vitascope, so he was still doing good work introducing cinema to other parts of the country.[1]


Though it is generally now agreed that Trujillo was only employed to operate the projector during Venezuela's first film screenings in 1896,[1][2] it is still a widespread belief in the nation that he did make the first Venezuelan films in 1897.[1][2][8] In an article, film scholar Arturo Serrano discusses this, saying there are "two tendencies" in the nation's history: one promoting Trujillo as "the most important pioneer of Venezuelan cinema", with the other tendency seeing him as an employee and artist adjacent to the true pioneers. Serrano also mentions that even the first tendency does not say with certainty that Trujillo made the first films, but believe that it's "very likely".[1]

This hasn't stopped Trujillo from becoming a legend in Venezuela, with the population generally seeing him as their national father of film, and the National Short Film Festival founded in 1990 named after him.[11] He has been reverently described as "a transhuman entrepreneur of spectacle in Maracaibo and elsewhere [in Venezuela]", and a "journalist, painter and apprentice of everything human", with biographers claiming that "his presence gave wings to Maracaibo, allowed thought and illusions, criticism and theory to circulate".[4]


  1. ^ Film scholarship in Venezuela began in about the late 1970s, with documents produced from the early 1980s.[1] Some early Venezuelan "scholarly" documents, like film critic Izaguirre's essay/article from 1984, mention the then-accepted Trujillo narrative when contextualising other topics.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Serrano, Arturo. "The Beginnings of Cinema in Venezuela: The arrival of Cinema in Venezuela (1896–1907)". Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Cine venezolano: protagonistas y aportes". Flashback Cinema (in Spanish). 29 June 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Zulia State Council. "Historia de Manuel Trujillo Durán". Consejo Legislativo del Zulia. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Villalobos Finol, Orlando (July 2013). "La casa de la bahía. Memorias de Manuel Trujillo Durán, PDVSA, Maracaibo, Venezuela" (PDF). Quórum Académico. 10 (2): 343–344.
  5. ^ Antillano, Laura (20 November 2016). "Homenaje a Manuel Trujillo Durán". Notitarde. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  6. ^ International Bureau of the American Republics (1897). Commercial directory of the American republics, : comprising the manufacturers, merchants, shippers, and banks and bankers engaged in foreign trade; together with the names of officials, maps, commercial statistics, industrial data, and other information concerning the countries of the International union of American republics, the American colonies, and Hawaii.
  7. ^ Izaguirre, Rodolfo (1984). La integración cinematográfica iberoamericana. La utopía al alcance de los cineastas (PDF) (73 ed.). NUEVA SOCIEDAD. p. 85. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b c McKernon, Luke. "Who's Who in Victorian Cinema: Trujillo". Victorian Cinema. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  9. ^ 1885-1954., Ramsaye, Terry, (1964) [c. 1954]. A million and one nights a history of the motion picture. London: F. Cass. p. 279. ISBN 9780203042069. OCLC 1086433556.
  10. ^ Carro, Nelson (1997). "Un siglo de cine en América Latina". Política y Cultura (8): 242. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  11. ^ "FESTIVAL DEL CORTOMETRAJE NACIONAL MANUEL TRUJILLO DURÁN INICIO". Festival Manuel Trujillo Durán website (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 December 2018.
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Manuel Trujillo Durán
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