National Film Award for Senel Paz, Strawberry & Chocolate screenwriter, and Francisco Prats

Senel Paz, joint winner of the Cuban National film Award 2020

Animation producer Francisco (Paco) Prats and screenwriter and professor Senel Paz have won the 2020 National Film Award in Cuba for their long and sustained careers in the Cuban film industry.

In the year in which the ICAIC (National film institute) Animation Studios celebrates 60 years since its founding, one of its most important artists is to receive the distinction, recognising his career as Director and currently Producer at the ICAIC Animation studios, Paco is one of the essential names in the history of cartoons in Cuba since 1959.

On the other hand, Senel Paz is the scriptwriter of important works in the canon of cinematography from the island – such as for the films ‘A bride for David’ (1985), ‘Adorable lies’ (1991), ‘Strawberry and chocolate’ (1993), ‘Waiting list’ (2001 ) and many others that have marked him as one of the writers with the greatest presence in Cuban cinema.

The jury was chaired by Jerónimo Labrada, professor and long-time soundman of Cuban cinema and winner of the 2019 National Film Award. Together with Labrada, the president of the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, Iván Giroud, the critic Antonio Mazón Robau, the scriptwriter and writer Eliseo Altunaga, the director Jorge Oliver, the filmmaker Arturo Sotto and Lourdes de los Santos, documentary maker and President of the Association of Cinema, Radio and Television of UNEAC.

The National Film Award was instituted in 2003 and well known past winners include Alfredo Guevara, founder and guiding figure of the Institute for almost four decades, and filmmakers such as Julio García Espinosa, Humberto Solás, Enrique Pineda Barnet, Juan Padrón, José Massip, Fernando Pérez, Manuel Pérez Paredes and Juan Carlos Tabío.

Each year cultural institutions and ICAIC nominate potential award winners from all areas of cinema including screenwriters, directors, producers, make up artists, sound engineers, actors, animators, art directors, editors and more.

The official award ceremony will take place on March 24, the 61st anniversary of the founding of the Cuban Film Institute.

By Rubén Ricardo Infante

Link to original report in Spanish on

More about Senel Paz

Narrator, screenwriter and professor, Senel Paz is a literary tour-de-force. His first collection of short stories, ‘El niño aquel’ won the Premio David in Cuba and his novels ‘Un rey en el jardín’ (won the Critics Prize) and ‘En el cielo con diamantes’ have both been widely translated and published in countries around the world. He has also written stories for children and plays. His most well-known work is the story ‘The wolf, the wood and the New Man’ (El lobo, el bosque y el hombre Nuevo – which won the International Juan Rulfo story prize and the Cuban Critics Prize), which has been edited in numerous languages and rewritten into over 25 different theatrical works. Paz later reworked the same story into the screenplay for the film ‘Fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate)’, directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1994 Academy Awards in the US. Paz is considered one of the most outstanding film professors/advisors in Latin America, having participated in various workshops, labs, and competitions outside of Cuba. He was the founder of the Muestra de Cine Joven (Cuban young filmmakers festival) and founder of the Screenwriting Department at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (International film and TV school at San Antonio de los Baños, near Havana. He lives in Havana.