Young Cuban Filmakers Stir Havana Viewers

Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — The Festival of Young Filmmakers is highly awaited each year in the nation’s capital. For some it is a chance to promote their work and see it on the big screen, for others, it’s time to appreciate the latest from the minds, hands and spirit of novice filmmakers.

In less than a week, the twelfth edition of the festival is projecting over 70 films (fiction, documentary and animated) plus foreign materials. Today Sunday is the last day.

In the audiovisual materials you can see most everything: A girl who wants to fly, an old woman in the countryside that craves to see snow, suicides or solitude.


Although the majority are fiction, the documentaries are what stand out.

In 13 minutes, Exhumation by Omar CS gives us a special intimate, moment. A discreet camera, intervening only to show the images, brings us the process of exhumation and cleaning the remains of corpses.

A spiritual movement in a community in the province of Holguin is reflected in La certeza (the certainty), during almost an hour, directed by Armando Capo. The documentary tracks several people with very different lives that ended up in the La Nueva Paz temple.

From the documentary film La Certeza.

There, Pastor Raul Leyva guides faith driven famers in his spiritualist beliefs. Capo chose observation without interviews, putting the camera in places he knew would capture the fervor of the meeting.

But undoubtedly the film that keeps the audience wide awake during its 43 minutes, is Elena.

Elena is the name of a building (1927) on Centro Habana’s Vapor St. Seldom repaired, always inadequately, the Elena Building was deteriorating until it was declared uninhabitable and its residents were taken away to a shelter in the Mantilla neighborhood.

There, in a climate lacking privacy, and a growing crescendo crime (robbery, assault), some of the families spent eight or ten years, until one day they decided to return to the building and start fighting for its repair.

From the documentary film Elena.

The director, Marcelo Martín, along with residents, reveal to us story of deceit, hypocrisy, disillusionment and despair.

Gregory, Manolo and Emilio explain on camera their situation as if they were adrift in a life raft. They describe the collapse of the stairs, the brigades of construction workers who have been through, and the backed up pipes and sewage flooding caused by the supposed “repairs”.

Marcelo Martín

Three years earlier they still had confidence in the Communist Party and the leaders, but now they feel lost; they don’t know how to fix their apartments, which continue to age … like them.

Elena is a documentary of denunciation, where the director becomes involved in the struggle of the residents, and involves us with him.

The Festival of Young Filmmakers brings to light people, experiences and events of our reality that somehow affect us all.

One thought on “Young Cuban Filmakers Stir Havana Viewers

  • Thanks for your reports, Irina! As “Elena” reveals, little was done on most buildings in Centro, Cerro, and many other neighborhoods, for more than a half-century, and now most folks don’t have a clue of what to do; at least “Elena” shows they must begin relying on themselves, rather than the Party and its leaders, who obviously have other priorities. I have faith that more folks will begin realizing they have to act on their own–cooperatively, of course–to better their conditions. I say cooperatively, because only by pooling their resources will they have enough capital to get the job done.

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