Cuba in the Havana Film Festival

By Irina Echarry, Photos: Caridad

Scene from last years Havana Film Festival.  Photo: Caridad
2009 Havana Film Festival. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 3 – December is a special month in the Cuban capital.  In addition to the refreshingly cooler temperature (though this year, “winter” is taking it’s time getting here), this is also the period when area cinemas are crammed with people anxiously waiting to see films from around the planet.

The Havana Film Festival begins today December 3, with wide programming distributed throughout 15 movie houses across the capital city.

Cuba -in addition to itself competing with three movies (El Premio flaco, by Juan Carlos Cremata; Lisanka, by Daniel Diaz Torres; and Ciudad en rojo, by Rebeca Chavez)- has several submissions in the exhibition titled “Made in Cuba” and in the documentary section.

Producer Liset Vila, who previously impressed audiences with her human point of view in other works, on this occasion brings us El padre nuestro, the story of a man who wanders the streets of Havana after having lost his job and family.  Likewise, she’s showing Tiempos diferentes… a su tiempo, with testimonies by people with different abilities.

In Santiago de Cuba Province, in the town of El Cobre, one can find the oldest copper mine in Cuba and the sanctuary of the Virgin de la Caridad, the island’s patron saint.  When the mines closed, visits to the sanctuary became the main source of income for the town.  Area residents sell prints, flowers, and candles to tourists, while others go down into the abandoned mine shafts in search of minerals to sell as souvenirs.  Cruz Gustavo Perez Fernandez recounts this in his 54 minute documentary Ave Maria.

Eduardo del Llano has three films showing

Director Eduardo del Llano, in an outstanding display of Cuban humor, brings us GNYO, a documentary that speaks to the phenomenon of contemporary humor and social satire in Cuba. The full length film narrates the story of the comedians group “Nos-y-Otros” (We-and-others), which developed their career in 1980s and 90s.  Del Llano has also submitted Brainstorm, a short that questions -with acidic irony- the work of the Cuban press.  In addition, the director is presenting Pas de Quatre, another short that speaks about freedom and transport through the story of a “botero” (a private taxi driver) and the passengers he picks up along his route.

2009 Havana Film Festival. Photo: Caridad

The impact of the inauguration of a monument to John Lennon in a Havana park is reflected by Luis O. Garcia in his documentary John Lennon en la Habana.” In it he interviews several people: a member of a rock group, the producer of the Beatles, the sculptor of the work, writer Ernesto Castellano and the monument’s watchmen.

“Amor,” by Marina Ochoa Tanda, pays homage to one of the grand families of Cuban culture: the Vitier-Garcia Marruz-Diego-Dulzaides.  The producer presents us with two other documentaries on the Vitier-Garcia Marruz marriage and her vision on the thought, work and persona of Juan Ramon Jimenez, an important Spanish poet.  The works are titled La gracia perpetua del bien and Las plumas del vuelo del águila.

Several documentaries on music will be presented in this festival. Among them is Tengo lo que tenía que tener, on Xiomara Laugart speaking about family, emigration and her music.  Reggaeton, as a musical genre within the cultural diversity of the country, is the theme of the documentary De dónde son los cantantes, by Janis Reyes Hernandez.

A short animation by Bárbaro Joel Ortiz reflects on the indifference to which a woman is subjected.  In Veinte años the main character does any and everything to get the attention of her listless husband.

Close up attempts to approach people who frequent G Park, one of the most popular centers of alternative culture in the capital.

The issue of cohabitation is treated in Bajo el mismo techo, by Talía Garcia.

Composer/musician Equis Alfonso poses three questions in his film: What is a normal day in Cuba? What are your dreams? How do you define Cuba in three words?  You’ll have to see the 70-minute documentary Sin Título to find out the answers.

There are lots of alternatives for finding out what’s happening in Cuba: fiction shorts, documentaries, cartoons…  You only have to have the time and visit the cinemas.  Your chance will last until December 13.

Click on the thumbnails to see all the photos in this gallery