Time is gold


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It’s not easy to get in for the 5:30 showing

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 12.- Havana’s usually wide 23rd Street gets narrower all the time. In these last days of the city’s International Film Festival, there’s barely a place on the sidewalk to run to the next movie theater.

If you don’t make it on time to the Riviera Theater it’s hard to get in. Especially for the 5:30 p.m. showing. Yes 5:30!

This time has been a real pain. People get out of class or leave work and rush to get to the theater on time. Those of us that have been at the movies since the morning also want to get in. So what you get is a huge crowd.

The ropes that block off the large plate glass windows of the theater weren’t enough; some broke. The police put on mean faces and asked for some names. “We only want to get in,” people shouted.

Time is gold. The festival is coming to an end.

While running down 23rd to get to the Yara Theater I asked an elderly woman I caught up with about the film she’d just seen. “Lokas, a Spanish film,” she said; adding: “People went crazy trying to get in and see it. Even the aisles were packed tight with people. Not even the projectionist could pass until people gave him some space, barely, to be able to enjoy a tender and respectful film about the topic of homosexuality.”

I thanked her and continued running. I’m much faster than her, and I didn’t want to lose my group of friends. It was ten minutes before 5:30, but I made it to the Yara among a concert of long faces. We were told that they had stopped letting people in a while ago. And that was for a Cuban movie which will be shown in the theaters at some time after the festival.

However, there are Cuban films impossible to see outside the festival…

The doorkeepers told the people who wanted to ask questions from the entrance to leave. Forget about it. There won’t be a 5:30 p.m. showing for us today.

So, we went across the street to the Coppelia ice cream parlor, which fortunately was open on this cool afternoon. There wasn’t strawberry or chocolate, but there was orange-pineapple, chocolate swirl and good friends around me to continue talking about the movies we would still have time to see.

The Havana Film Festival continues through Sunday, December 14, with the winning films to be announced Friday tonight, which also includes a showing of the award winning 2008 French film The Class at the Karl Marx Theater.