The Cumana Devil (El Diablo De Cumana)
by John Dickinson
color, 26 min, 1984
Luis del Valle Hurtado regularly transforms himself into a drumming, dancing "black satan" in a festival fusion of Indian, Spanish, and African symbols in his hometown of Cumana, Venezuela. Donning the dark garb of the devil, his particular satan is based on the popular image of St. Michael killing Lucifer. He performs at carnivals and regards himself as a cultural phenomenon who is furthering an old tradition. Aware that times are changing and that younger people have lost interest in wearing outlandish costumes, he practices his art with pride and considers himself to be the "true devil", the one who will never die. Although he refuses to teach anyone his craft, Hurtado is famous throughout the neighborhood and his performances are often imitated by children.