The Cuban Part of the Havana Film Festival

Daisy Valera

Havana Film Festival Poster

The Festival of Latin American Cinema just concluded.  Whether it’s been good or bad, I don’t know.

As usual, the theaters have been jam packed; plate glass windows at some entrances were even broken.

The daily festival newspaper with the programming are usually gone before 9:00 in the morning, and it seems that many people have taken vacation time during this period, or they’re just don’t go to work.

I’ve only managed to see five movies: two Argentinean ones and three on or from Cuba.

I didn’t like any of the five.

The Argentinean ones: tragic and somber.

The Cuban movies were depressing to the point of tears.

Chico y Rita was the first movie I saw related to Cuba.  It was directed and produced by Spaniards.

It was a cartoon, a love story between a pianist and a singer in Cuba in 1948.

Chico ends up as a shoeshine boy (since after the revolution, jazz was considered the enemy’s music).

Rita, the singer and actress, winds up cleaning floors in New York.

They reunite after 49 years.

The second movie: Afinidades.

A nuclear physicist reluctantly agrees to allow his wife go to bed with his boss to prevent being laid off from his job.  The story takes place in 2010.

Lastly: Larga distancia.

It is the story of a misunderstanding between four friends.

A roof literally caves in on top of a talented bassist.

A Santeria priest isn’t able to give his daughter the teddy bear that she likes the most; it costs $79 CUCs (close to $100 USD).

A prostitute with the sole dream of getting some size 38 breasts.

And Ana, about a woman who is able to leave the country and the loneliness that makes her dream up an imaginary encounter with friends separated by distance.

The first three friends are dreaming about how their lives would have been if they had been able to leave, while Ana remains unsatisfied – despite her material comfort.

It’s a story that’s too real, adapted to the question that many people pose to themselves in this country: to go or to stay?

The movie reminds us of the part of the island that affects and worries us most: the material shortages and the impossibility of deciding, in many instances, what we want to do with our lives.

It is a story without a speck of optimism.

But it may have been that what was really the case was that the sole pessimist was me.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.



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