April Kicks Off With Havana’s Young Filmmakers’ Festival

Irina Echarry

Poster from this year's Young Filmmakers Festival.
Poster from this year’s Young Filmmakers Festival.

HAVANA TIMES — The 13th Young Filmmakers’ Festival, a space where we are brought into contact and invited to explore the different paths Cuba’s youngest filmmakers are tracing today, takes place from April 1-6 in Havana.

In addition to the festival’s regular venues – the Chaplin, 23 y 12 cinemas, Fresa y Chocolate Film and Cultural Center and the 5th and 6th floors of the Cuban Film Art and Industry Institute – films will also be screened this year at the Havana Film Festival Venue and the recently-created Fabrica de Arte Cubano (“Cuban Art Factory”).

This year’s festival is loaded with parallel activities and events. The schedule includes the habitual debates among critics and filmmakers (in the Moviendo Ideas space), the screening of films in competition, a homage to filmmaker Daniel Diaz Torres (who passed away recently), conferences such as the one to be offered by Chilean-Danish Director of Photography Manuel Alberto Claro (winner of two cinematography awards at Cannes), an exhibition by visual artist Frank Rodriguez Ventosa (titled Diario del naufragio, “Diary of the Shipwreck”), an exhibition dealing with the ICAIC Newsreel and a special screening of Crematorio (“Crematorium”), Cuban filmmaker Juan Carlos Crematas’ latest feature.

Films in Competition

The animated films in competition are Joan Manuel Leyva’s La noche que se perdió la luna (“The Night the Moon Was Lost”), a short about the revenge plotted by two rats who decide to improve their diet and cease relying on garbage whose schemes are thwarted by a cat; Yoelvis Consuegra’s and Erick Sacramento’s La isla me absorberá (“The Island Will Absorb Me”), an animated portrayal of Cuba’s history, and Alien Ma Alonso’s CG film El mundo sumergido (“The Submerged World”), in which a scientist discovers the remains of an ancient civilization, and the repercussions his research has on his own society.

La corrosión de la memoria (The Corrosion of Memory) is a documentary about domestic violence by filmmaker Aylee Ibañez. Carlos Barba brings us Humberto, a documentary about renowned Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solas, released five years after his death. Damian Sainz touches on an interesting issue this year: the lives of two women and a man who live together and how the man’s death affects this relationship (the three lived in apparent harmony, but the husband’s absence leads to a silent quarrel between the widow and the lover).

Ariagna Fajardo treats us to the story of Esther, a woman who lives in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountain range and has been confined to her home for 40 years. Yaima Pardo gathers several testimonies about the lack of Internet access in Cuba in her documentary Off Line, while Joel Gabriel Reyes documents how a young man questions the role played by his generation in Clandestinos 2.0. In Abece (“ABC”), 12-year-old Leoneidis reflects on maternity and her responsibilities as a wife.

A number of dramatic shorts invite us to glance at Cuban reality from different perspectives. In Ernesto Benitez’ La Habitacion (“The Room”), two young men confront something they do not understand. Havana is the stage where Bouchard, a Swiss romance novel writer, has different experiences that lead to the story’s pivotal moment, something which surprises the author himself – this happens in Habana: punto de giro (“Havana: Turning Point”), by Jose Manuel Garcia Casado. Estado civil: Unidas (“Marital Status: Together”) is the story of Ibis and Teresa, a mature couple.

The first six days of April will be an exciting time in Havana, where young filmmakers, mostly students from the Faculty of Audiovisual Communication (FAMCA), will compete with the materials they have shot at school. The Young Filmmakers’ Festival continues to be a gathering that invites us to think and debate about the Cuba we live in or imagine.