The film and cultural event makes a comeback to the Holguin coastal community with a multicultural program.
HAVANA TIMES – The 16th Gibara International Film Festival will now run from August 2nd to the 6th, after being suspended for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the motto “Returning to movie theaters”, the event is looking to get back to its essence and key values.
Founded in 2003 under the name “Low-Budget Cinema”, by renowned director Humberto Solas, the festival holds true to “its intentions to offer quality cinema, and also to give the Gibara people an annual oasis of leisure and culture,” according to a note issued by its Organizing Committee.
Actor Jorge Perugorria, the Festival’s president since 2016, said in a video that holding the festival this year has posed a great challenge.
“We are all familiar with the difficult situation Cuba is in right now, but we aren’t going to neglect culture because of this. We must continue supporting cultural projects, and I believe that the Gibara Festival has never been needed more,” he said.
The selection of works competing in this edition was made with a short-term call, with support from the international festival’s producers, who were invited to the event.
According to Sergio Benevuto Solas, the Festival’s director, it is essential to strip the festival down to basics, focusing on national filmmakers and their international collegues who are willing to help them.
“Work with international guest producers (Javier Muniz, Belen Rodriguez, Paco Jimenez, Tito Cañadas, Ivan Trujillo and Hector Ramirez) allowed us to get better results, in a short time. Working in this way has been crucial, finding ways to navigate all of the problems right now, ensuring better conditions and the most activities possible,” he says.
A multicultural program
With 45 works competing, all different genres and from different countires, the Festival will have three official juries, a jury for fiction, one for documentary and animation – made up of Cuban and foreign celebrities – and another one for national press dedicated to Fiction.
There will be two collateral juries, the “youth jury”, which will be made up of young moviegoers from the community and other provinces, one for fiction and another one for documentaries and animation movies, which have a social or community profile in many countries.
The Cineclub jury will also make its debut, with local members from the Cuban CineClub Federation.
Actors Mario Limonta and Mario Balmaseda will receive the Lucia de Honor award during the opening ceremony, on August 2nd. This recognition will also include the screening of a restored version of De Cierta Manera, by Sara Gomez, which both actors played in.
Another important moment during this ceremony will be a tribute to Nelson Rodriguez Zurbaran, who passed away in 2020. This will include a screening of a restored version of Los sobrevivientes, a 1978 movie by Tomas Gutierrez Alea, with Rodriguez as editor, on the program.
Amada, from 1983, will also be screened, which Rodriguez also edited and co-directed alongside Humberto Solas, and the documentary El Cine y la Vida de Manuel Iglesias.
The program includes special screenings and exhibitions of international festivals. Theoretical discussions will be held on different subjects during the morning, while afternoons will be dedicated to press conferences with guests.
As per usual, the Festival will also take theater, painting, music and activities for children and young people to squares, parks and cultural spaces in Gibara.
According to Benvenuto, Gibara is a multicultural event: “there was a great discussion in this regard and, of course, reason won out, somehow, with a lot of local support, because we really want it to be a multicultural festival in Gibara and Holguin, and not just a week of films.”
“The main challenge for this edition has been to have an official selection to the same level we did in 2018 and 2019, and I believe we have it,” Benvenuto says.
“Despite not being able to continue with the Cinema in the making contest, because this requires funds to contribute to the continuity of these works, which is a lot harder to manage right now during the crisis, it’s timely to say that the official selection in the running is of a really high quality,” he points out.
Another one of the Festival’s main challenges was to return to dealing with specialized content:
“During the event’s first decade, we had a newspaper called Cine pobre hoy. Now we’ve got a team that is producing content, beyond our scope on social media,” the Festival director says.
“It’s extremely important to us to create content about these activities and that there is a specialized and meticulous record of this process, both of film events as well as other multicultural activities,” he adds.
Last but not least, he talks about the interest “in producing a group of articles about the Festival’s relationship with local development, its ties with the community, and every aspect linked to issues about community, heritage and culture.”