Cuban productions at the Havana Film Festival


This December 5-15 the annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana is showing a number of home grown productions. These include films competing for awards in different sections as well as many others to reflect the festival’s development such as recent video works with high aesthetic values. Although the contest is one of the fundamental motivations for some filmmakers, the fact of being chosen to be shown in one of these sections is a prize in it self, since the festival, now in its 41st year, has always strived to show many of the best productions in the continent and in other regions.

The Cuban films include ‘Habana selfies’ (dir. Arturo Santana, 2019). The 90 minute film is an urban comedy with melancholic and sensual touches, told in six stories that form self-portraits of Havana where the thread is a car trip through night-time Havana interrupted by stories about universal and contemporary situations. The director Santana dedicated it to his city on its 500th birthday saying “I tried by every means, to be honest about my city that is the scene of all the things that I have done and all that I have not been able to do”.

Habana selfies (Arturo Santana, 2019). Foto: LaJiribilla

Co-produced between Cuba and Mexico, ‘The foam of the days‘ (‘La Espuma de los dias’) is being shown (dir. Fernando Timossi, 2019), a film that reveals the complexities in the life of a young man after he leaves prison and his desire to recover time and lost life, but he has to face the hatred of the brother of the person he killed involuntarily.

‘Thank you for fear’ (dir. Rigoberto Senarega, 2019), is a documentary that explores the other side of proletarian internationalism, now seen from the most human side, from fear as a consequence of decisions. The documentary ‘Fifth List’ (dir. Giselle García, 2019) was shown, along with several Argentinian and Brazilian films in the culture’ section. Its director investigates the life of fishermen, their culture and fears about the future of their work. By presenting five stories of Cuban fishing communities, ‘Fifth List’ reveals the feelings and opinions of fishermen.

The recent production of the Palomas Audiovisual Production House for Social Activism is ‘Women… resilience, right to life’ (dir. Lizette Vila / Ingrid León, 2019), a documentary recently presented to the Cuban public, which shows the “life stories of Cuban women who show great resilience, given the difficult realities of Cuban society ”; this film is in the ‘Women in front of the camera’ section.

‘Where are you going … ?'(‘Dónde vas tú…?’), Leonardo Padura’, a squalid and moving story and ‘The dogs, the stones, the Revolution’ (‘Los perros, las piedras, la Revolución’) are integral works of the section entitled ‘Culture’. Each one of them, from their different points of view, problematizes the realities of cultural activities on the island. In the case of ‘Donde vas tu’ (dir. Orelvys Fraga, 2019), it is concerned with ‘el Punto Cubano’, a traditional musical form that was declared Cultural Heritage of  Humanity, but that is becoming forgotten.  ‘Leonardo Padura’ (dir. Nayare Menoyo, 2019) is a biographical documentary about the Cuban writer who won the National Prize for Literature and who is best known for his crime fiction; while ‘Los perros…‘ (Carlos Y. Rodríguez, 2019) is an almost ethnographic material about the dynamics of life in a community and the routines they impose on the life of Luis Rojas, an ex-marathon runner, who is dedicated to building a park of stones to tell the story of the insurrectional struggles in the Cuba of the 50s.

Home (Alejandro Alonso, 2019). Foto: Muestra Joven ICAIC

Other Cuban productions, include the documentary ‘Home‘ (dir. Alejandro Alonso, 2019) and the fiction work ‘The Winter Campaigns’ (dir. Rafael Ramírez, 2019).

With emphasis on documentaries and fiction shorts made by young people, these works reveal the creativity of filmmakers emerging with new ways of conceiving the audiovisual as cinematic discourse.

Based on original report by La Jiribilla here in Spanish

With additional information from the report by Juventud Rebelde here in Spanish