Since 2002, Glasgow has been twinned with Havana, and the Havana Glasgow Film Festival aims to bring Cuba’s richness of culture and identity, while exploring some common threads, with 4 days of film, dance, music, social events, school programmes and talks across Glasgow.
This year’s focus is women – behind and in front of the camera – and will include the UK Premiere of ‘Vestido de Novia’ attended by lead Cuban actor Laura de la Uz, and special screening of 3 documentaries by Cuba’s late first female director, Sara Gomez. There will also be the UK premiere of ‘El Techo’, attended by director Patricia Ramos, with special youth screenings.
Prior to the festival HGFF has also teamed up with Glasgow Valencia Erasmus Plus and British Council Cuba’s ‘Camera Chica’ project for a special International schools event where young students will introduce their films, marking the beginning of an exciting filmmaking collaboration between young people in Glasgow and Havana.
Most events take place at the Centre for Contemporary Arts and the Glasgow Film Theatre.
The festival is supported by ICAIC the Cuban Film Institute, Glasgow City Council, Creative Scotland, GSA Fine Art Dept and Unite amongst others and a dedicated volunteer team. It is organized by Eirene Houston, Festival Director & Hugo Rivalta, Co-Director.
The highlights of the Festival include:
Sunday 4 November: Launch Party with live Cuban music: Rene Alvarez and his Cuban Combination Quartet
Tuesday 6 November 6-8pm: Sara Gomez Retrospective
World Premiere of 3 newly preserved/digitised documentaries by Cuba’s first female filmmaker – En La Otra Isla / On the Other Island, Una Isla Para Miguel /An Island for Miguel, Y Tenemos Sabor / And We Have Flavour
Sara Gomez is an iconic presence within Cuban cinema, as both the first female director and the first Afro-Cuban one. Gomez is best known for her feature ‘De cierta manera’, a groundbreaking exploration of Cuban society which has been described as “the first movie to truly explore conflicting threads of racial and gender identity within a revolutionary context”. Tragically it would also be her last film – she died of a heart attack at the age of 31. Gomez also left behind a fascinating body of documentary shorts which remain underseen. HGFF has worked with ICAIC (Cuban Film Institute) and Glasgow based iMetafilm to restore and digitise these films and they are screened in collaboration with Africa in Motion.
Wednesday 7 November
Vestido de Novia/His Wedding Dress – Marilyn Solaya/Cuba/2014/104mins Rosa’s husband, Ernesto, expresses his disapproval of her transgender friend Sissy, and she pleads with him to understand and sympathize with transgender people. The couple’s happiness is affected by a secret from the past. Solaya illustrates a pervasive theme of love and acceptance tempered by gender-based discrimination. The film won the people’s vote at the Havana film festival in 2014. It is one of a recent wave of progressive films reflecting reforms regarding the rights of the LGBTQ community, most recently Cuba’s move towards legalising same sex marriage.
Thursday 8 November
7pm ‘Women’s Forum: Women’s Voices in Culture and Politics in Cuba and Scotland’, in collaboration with Edinburgh University, followed by informal discussion and refreshments. With Cuban ambassador Teresita Vicente, Cuban actor Laura de la Uz and others on the panel.
Friday 9 November
‘Free Mulata nation: The mixed race woman as a national allegory in Cuban art and culture’ Lecture hosted by Glasgow School of Art (11am).
Salsa Networking for filmmakers (5.30pm)
Women In Film (7.15pm) Screening short films by Cuba’s female directors, incl. award winning El Monte/The Woodland – Claudia Claremi/2017 and Great Muy Bien – Sheyla Pool Pástor/2016 followed by discussion with Scottish and Cuban filmmakers.
Saturday 10 November
La Pared de las Palabras/Wall of Words – Fernando Perez/Cuba/2014/97mins When her son succumbs to a disease that leaves him mentally and physically disabled, his distraught mother must learn how to care for him whilst holding together the rest of her crumbling family life. A stark but honest tale about the importance of communication and what it means to be family.
Hello Hemingway – Fernando Perez/Cuba/1990/90mins In 1950s Havana, Laurita wants to study in the USA, but discovers that her background and poverty work against her. “Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?” A bookseller quotes from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, but his young friend Laurita dismisses the darker passages of the story.
Lucia – Humberto Solás/Cuba/1968/164mins 50 years since it was made, Lucia is still one of the greatest films in Cuban cinema, an epic melodrama – tracing the history of political consciousness and the status of women on the island. The film explores these themes through the stories of three women all called Lucia, living during three pivotal points in Cuban history; the Wars of Independence against Spain, the Machado dictatorship, and the 1960s. Solás, who was only 26 when this film brought him international acclaim, said, “Women’s roles always lay bare the contradictions of a period and make them explicit: Lucia is not a film about women, it’s a film about society.”
Sunday 11 November
El Techo/The Roof – Dir. Patricia Ramos/Cuba/2016/75mins Three young friends who gather on a roof in Havana every day decide to set up their own business in this unprejudiced look at contemporary Cuba. Filmed entirely on the rooftops of Havana. (Screening for school students 7 & 9 Nov)
The Cuba Connection: Focus on the relationship between Scottish filmmaker Margaret Tait and the godfather of Latin American cinema, the late Argentinian Fernando Birri, who was a founder and first director of Cuba’s film school.
For full and up to date details see the festival website www.hgfilmfest.com