HAVANA TIMES, November 15.— The 30th Havana Film Festival (Dec. 2-12) is right around the corner. From beginning to end, Havana Times will bring you regular updates and photographs so you can get a feel for what’s happening on the streets and movie theaters of Cuba’s capital.
Several elements combine during the annual cinema fest that gives it the power to transform Havana, almost magically.
These include the pleasant December weather with temperatures of 20-25 Celsius; the sea of people of all ages hustling from one theater to another; the chance to run into famous directors and actors on any corner, and side cultural activities including expositions, book launchings, concerts and conferences.
Many Havana residents make a point to save up vacation time to take off during the festival, one of the most important in Latin America. Advance tickets for locals usually go on sale a couple weeks before the opening, with the price equivalent of around US $1.00 for 15 films.
Foreign visitors can buy a festival credential for $45.00 CUC (US $56.00) giving them entrance to all films, priority seating, a festival film catalog and the right to attend the opening and closing ceremonies and other special activities.
Starting in 1979 as a meeting place for Latin American filmmakers and a venue for showing productions made by the region’s directors, the festival also sought to be an alternative space to the Hollywood movie industry.
The Havana Film Festival has expanded over the last 29 years, obtaining considerable popularity in Cuba and the movie world in general, while becoming one of the best attended international events held on the island.
An international jury will hand out the different “Coral” awards in the categories of: Fiction, documentary, animation, first film, unpublished scripts and movie posters.
Of around a thousand works nominated this year, 114 were declared finalists to compete at the festival. By country the most entries are from Brazil (23), Argentina (21), Mexico (19), Cuba (15), Chile (10) and Venezuela (9).
However, the official competing section is only part of the many movies shown each year at the festival.
Numerous other non-competing Latin American films are shown including documentaries about aspects of life in the region. Films showing Cuban reality through the eyes of local and foreign filmmakers are in a popular category called Made in Cuba.
Other Havana movie theaters host important showings of the latest in European and independent North American cinema. Retrospectives and tributes are organized to great filmmakers of different eras.
The programming also includes children with two international showings: one titled For People of All Ages with animated and full length films for children; and the other, Los Mil Rostros de los Olvidados, (The thousand faces of the forgotten), with works that show the current state of children in different parts of the world.
The official Havana Film Festival web site is: http://www.habanafilmfestival.com