By Prensa Latina
Cuban fiction feature films ‘Why do my friends cry?’ and ‘Sergio & Serguei’ conquered the hearts of the public in 2018 inside and outside the island.
The first half of the year undoubtedly was marked by the efficiency of both films to connect with audiences of different generations and backgrounds.
It was evident to all that the filmmaker Magda González conceived ‘Why do my friends cry?’ from a place of honesty and in favour of diversity of friendship.
Although starring great Cuban female actors such as Luisa María Jiménez, Edith Massola, Amarilys Núñez and Yasmín Gómez, the work did not focus on gender issues because the director managed to share reflections on issues that touch all humanity.
Watch the trailer for Porque lloran mis amigas?
After scooping several prizes at international festivals, ‘Sergio & Serguei’, by Ernesto Daranas, reached the main cinemas acoss the country with a beautiful plea on friendship, solidarity and humanism, above any political belief or material need.
By choosing a girl as a narrator, the director avoided the economic precariousness of the 1990s and the trauma that the disappearance of the Soviet Union meant for the Cuban adult generation of that time, which would have depressed the viewer; on the contrary, he presented human values and optimism.
Thanks to the acting performance of Tomás Cao, Héctor Noas, Mario Guerra, Yuliet Cruz, Ana Gloria Buduén, Armando Miguel Gómez, Camila Arteche and Ailín de la Caridad Rodríguez, and the script of Daranas, one can identify with most of the characters.
It is worth noting the special performance of the American actor Ron Perlman in the role of a Jewish journalist, Peter, living in New York whose investigations reveal different forms of corruption of his own government.
The character of Peter forms a triad with the Cuban Sergio and the Russian Serguei that enables one of the conflicts of the drama to be solved with a happy ending.
Watch the trailer for Sergio y Serguei here
In addition to this, three new Cuban films presented at the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in December received the Special Jury Prize, they were ‘Insumisas’, by Fernando Pérez and the Swiss director Laura Cazador; ‘Innocence’ by Alejandro Gil and ‘Nido de Mantis’, by Arturo Soto.
Based on real events, ‘Insumisas’ delves into the life of a Swiss woman who arrived in the eastern Cuban city of Baracoa, at the beginning of the 19th century, dressed as a man, and under the name of Enrique Faber she successfully practised medicine, and even got married to a local girl.
The career of surgeon was forbidden to women at that time and Faber adopted a male identity to study in Paris, where s/he supported the ideals of the French Revolution (Freedom, equality, fraternity).
After putting her profession into practice during the Napoleonic wars, Faber got on a boat bound for America and settled in Cuba, where ‘the French doctor’ aroused the envy of the locals and received pressures of all kinds.
In addition, she transcended social and moral limitations of the time, to try to live in peace, how she liked and to help other people.
The 92-minute film featured a cast consisting of French actor Sylvie Testud and Cubans Yeni Soria, Mario Guerra, Hector Noas, Giselle Gonzalez and Corina Mestre, amongst other artists.
The film received a Special Mention from the Glauber Rocha Award, sponsored by the Latinamerican News Agency Latin Press and the Súmate Prize of the campaign ‘For a life without violence’.
Watch the trailer for Insumisas with english subtitles here
Perhaps to settle one of the debts that the Cuban cinema has with the history of the island, the Cuban Film Institute (Icaic) supported the making of a film inspired by the unjust execution of eight medical students, in 1871, by the Spanish colonial authorities in Havana.
The film is entitled ‘Inocencia’ and the director gave himself the laborious task of researching texts, letters and newspaper reports of the time, among other documents, so the work is classified as a fiction film based on real events.
The real students Alonso Álvarez de la Campa, José de Marcos and Medina, Carlos Augusto de la Torre, Eladio González and Toledo, Pascual Rodríguez and Pérez, Anacleto Bermúdez, Ángel Laborde and Carlos Verdugo, were only 17 to 21 years of age when they were sentenced without evidence of any crime.
The film tells two stories in parallel: the one that happened in 1871, which culminated in the execution, and the 16 years that followed, when Fermín Valdés Domínguez, another medical student equally accused but sentenced to prison, struggles to prove the innocence of those young people .
Inocencia won the Audience Award at the Havana film Festival in December, among other awards.
Watch the trailer for Inocencia on vimeo here
Now, the Cuban public awaits the premiere in cinemas across the country of the film, as well as Insumisas, Mantis’ Nest and Yuli, another Icaic co-production with a team from Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, distinguished with five Goya nominations.
The organizing committee of the Havana Film Festival had to make an exception with Yuli and add extra screenings. Despite that, many people did not manage to get into cinemas to see the film, inspired by the life of the Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta.
Watch the trailer for the film Yuli here
The 2018 Festival revealed it was a good year for Cuban cinema.
Coming up soon in 2019, is another fictional film that recreates real events of the mid-nineteenth century and revolves around one of the personalities of the independence struggle, Ignacio Agramonte, whose nickname gives the title of the film: El mayor.