Havana-Glasgow Film Festival  3-16 November 2019 – highlights

Still from Cuban film Strawberry and Chocolate by Tomas Alea

Havana Glasgow Film Festival returns for its 5th year, celebrating the shared passion for cinema, music and politics between the twinned cities (since 2002) with a packed programme of films, music and workshops. This year marks the 60th anniversary of ICAIC, Cuba’s national film institute, founded primarily to use film as a powerful means of political communication to improve the lives of Cubans, and their society. This year’s festival asks: can cinema change the world?

A central focus is the work of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, a pioneering Cuban filmmaker and one of the founders of ICAIC. His work will be contextualised with a documentary on his life as well as screenings of three of his films including the award-winning Strawberry and Chocolate, which was a groundbreaking film in liberalising Cuban attitudes towards homosexuality.

Alea’s widow, Mirtha Ibarra, one of the best loved actresses in Cuba, will be at the festival, to share her memories .. The star of Strawberry and Chocolate, Jorge Perrugoria, went on to become one of Cuba’s most popular actors, but also has a parallel career as a director, and the festival will screen two of his films.

MirthaIbarra_and_TomasAlea - Copy
Cuban actor Mirtha Ibarra with husband and film director Tomas Alea.

The programme includes fascinating talks and workshops looking at how film can provoke societal change, as well as offering insights to the industry. You can also enjoy some Cuban music and dancing at the social events. There are also special screenings and events for schools and workshops for children.

Full details at www.hgfilmfest.com

Here are some highlights: 

[Check the HGfilmfest website for the most up to date programme, dates and timings.]

 Sat 2 Nov:

Exhibition Opening: Como Veo Cuba/ As I See Cuba Photography exhibition celebrating 500 years of Havana, from the personal perspectives of award-winning photographers Roberto Chile (Havana) and Dougie Souness (Glasgow) Exhibition runs until 30 November, Tues-Sat. At Trongate 103.

Sun 3 Nov:

Launch Party with Dance Class and Food With Tumbao Salsa School. Featuring Cuban DJ  Javier de La Rosa – plus Cuban dance instructor Javier Franco. 6.30pm at Boteca.

Wed 6 Nov:

Sencillamente Korda / Simply Korda (Dir.Roberto Chile,2011) Roberto Chile presents his film about Alberto Korda, who photographed the Cuban Revolution until the late 60s and shot the iconic picture of Che Guevara.

Fri  8 Nov:

Music Video Production in Cuba – Behind the Scenes An inside look at Cuban salsa music video making with Havana-born director Alejandro Valera Losa. 6pm at Refuweegee.

Film Can Change the World Talk by Glaswegian music and film journalist Brian Beadie, on radical Cuban and international films which challenged the norm. 4pm at Refuweegee.

Sun 10 Nov:

Screenwriting in Cuba – Hugo Rivalta A unique chance to learn from professional Cuban filmmaker and screenwriter Hugo Rivalta.4pm at Refuweegee.

Tues 12 Nov:

Fátima o El Parque de la Fraternidad / Fatima of Fraternity Park (Dir.Jorge Perugorría, 2015) Manolito moves from a small provincial town to Havana. There he becomes Fátima, Queen of the Night – to earn a living and hold onto the man he loves. Introduced by Mirtha Ibarra. 6pm at GFT.

Wed 13 Nov:

History of Cuban Cinema Informal talk by ICAIC’s Julie Valdes. 5.30pm at CCA Clubroom.

New Cuban Shorts Short films by students from the world renowned International Cuban Film School (EICTV) followed by discussion. 7.30pm at CCA Cinema.

 Thu 14 Nov:

Fresa y Chocolate/Strawberry and Chocolate (Dir. Tomás Gutiérrez Alea,1994) This Oscar-nominated groundbreaking film tells the story of two men – one gay, the other straight, one a fierce communist, the other a fierce individualist, and how they come to love each other. Set during 1980s Havana when anti-gay sentiment ran high. Q&A with Mirtha Ibarra. 8.15pm at GFT.

Fri 15 Nov:

Annual Lecture by Glasgow School of Art ‘Film Can Change the World’.10am at GFT.

El Niño y La Verdad (Dir. Alejandro Valera Losa , 2019) Cuban salsa band El Niño y La Verdad return to their roots in the barrios of Havana to find inspiration for their latest album. Q&A with director. 6.15pm at CCA Cinema.

Se Vende / For Sale (Dir.Jorge Perugorría, 2012) Dark comedy, strongly influenced by classics The Death of a Bureaucrat and Guantanamera, both by Alea, tells the story of a girl who sells the family mausoleum in order to make ends meet. Introduced by Alejandro Valera. 8.15pm at CCA Cinema.

 Sat 16 Nov:

Mirtha (Dir.Lourdes Prieto, 2015) A warm and intimate portrait about one of Cuba’s greatest actors. 11.30am at CCA Cinema.

Habanastation / Havana Station (Dir.Ian Padron, 2011) Tracing the lives of two Cuban classmates from different upbringings, the film tells the story of how a privileged student, Mayito, blindly enters into the dangers of Carlos’s neighborhood, La Timba. Leads to an unforgettable journey of discovery and  formation of a strong friendship. Relaxed Screening 1-3pm at CCA Cinema.

Titón: De La Habana a Guantanamera (Dir. Mirtha Ibarra, 2008) A fascinating look at the life and work of revolutionary Cuban filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea, made by his widow, actor Mirtha Ibarra. Q&A with Mirtha Ibarra. 3.30pm at CCA Cinema.

Hasta Cierto Punto / Up to a Certain Point (Dir.Tomás Gutiérrez Alea,1985) Filmmaker Oscar falls for Lina – a pioneering female dockworker, but his machismo leads to conflict which shines a spotlight on gender roles in Cuba. Followed by panel discussion. 6.30pm at CCA Cinema.

La Muerte de un Burócrata / Death of a Bureaucrat (Dir.Tomás Gutiérrez Alea,1966) Classic surreal comedy. The story begins with the death of a model worker who is buried with his labor card as a badge of honor, but the family then need to recover the precious card from the grave. 8.30pm at CCA Cinema.

Full details at www.hgfilmfest.com