HAVANA TIMES, Nov 24 — December is approaching and with it comes the anxiously awaited Havana Film Festival, an annual event that showcases the latest films from this continent and the Caribbean.
Many people schedule their vacations around this event, while others have no choice but to rush off to the cinema as soon as they leave work or school. But what’s indisputable is that in December, during the festival, the environment becomes different.
Although in recent years we haven’t seen people making mad dashes from theater to theater so as not to miss a showing, and the lines aren’t as enormous as they used to be. In fact, what prevails is a festive-like atmosphere, especially if December offers us a nice cool breeze.
In this latest edition, running from December 1-11, competing from Cuba will be 14 works that include documentaries, animated shorts and films debuts.
Most of the feature films have already been shown on the big screen (at least once) and have therefore already received public input and criticism (including Ian Padron’s Habanastation, which was released as a debut work; as well as Chamaco by Juan Carlos Cremata, Fabula by Lester Hamlet, and Enrique Alvarez’s Marina), which along with Juan de los Muertos by Alejandro Brugues will be participating in the competition.
The Cuban public is eager to see itself reflected on the screen as protagonists in stories — whether in fiction or documentaries — talking about everyday life, discussing the ups and downs of existence and the aspirations of regular people.
Chamaco, inspired by the play by Abel Gonzalez Melo, reveals the stark reality of Havana nightlife, known of but not widely talked about.
Marina is the subject of immigration, but in a different direction, and with a tempo that’s slower than usual for our cinema.
The two, each in their own style and with their own stories are about people who become displaced and who are struggling to adapt to the society to which they belong – some succeeding, others not.
Fabula questions whether it’s worth leaving behind interests, principles and friends for the sake of love. This is an idea that is becoming controversial in times of heartbreak such as those in which we live.
Habanastation has been the most viewed and is the most controversial. It’s the story of two children who grow up in different social classes, each full of stereotypes.
Undoubtedly the most anticipated is Juan de los Muertos, which has not yet been released in Cuba – and with some people fearing that it won’t be shown. A revolution of zombies in the middle of Havana serves as the pretext for making subtle criticisms of the Cuban Revolution through this horror-comedy in which the government says its enemies (zombies) are dissidents in the pay of the US government.
We foresee a varied public for this festival, which is coming up fast.