Robert Redford sends Thank You message to Havana Film Festival

Source:  Cuban News Agency
December 7 2018

festival of new latin american cinema.jpgI would like to express my gratitude to you, to Cuba and its artists for your friendship and collaboration over the years,” said renowned American filmmaker Robert Redford in a message he sent to the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema.
 Redford’s words, in gratitude for the award of a Coral Honor to the Sundance Institute, the educational center for young filmmakers that he founded and presides over, were projected in a video at the opening gala of the annual meeting with Latin American movie industry, which reaches its 40th edition in 2018.


Robert Redford

The deserved recognition of the 30 years of support of this institution to the Havana Film Festival, was collected in the name of the famous actor and director, by the director and founder of the program of feature films of the Institute, Michelle Satter and Paul Federbush, director of its fiction program.

Another emotional moment of the night was the presentation of a second Coral de Honor, this time to Mexican producer Bertha Navarro (El laberinto del fauno and La delgada línea amarilla), who expressed upon receiving the award that Cuba had marked all of her youth and that the festival was very dear and endearing to her.

Likewise, Adrián Solar, president of the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers (FIPCA) and of the Platinum Awards of Ibero-American Cinema, gave the event a special recognition for its work in the promotion, dedication and diffusion of the region’s cinema during its 40 years of existence.

As an honor for them, he described the awarding of this prize to the president of the Festival Iván Giroud and expressed before the audience the desire to carry out one day, in this city, the gala of delivery of the itinerant Platinum Prizes.

The opening ceremony opened curtains with the melodious voice of Cuban singer-songwriter Haydee Milanés, who gave the audience a beautiful selection of themes from Latin American songs such as Gracias a la vida, by Mercedes Sosa; Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón, by Fito Páez; Mi unicornio azul, by Silvio Rodríguez, and Yolanda, by her father Pablo Milanés.

The evening concluded with the screening of El Pepe, una vida suprema, by Serbian director Emir Kusturika, a documentary about former Uruguayan president José “Pepe” Mujica.

Colombian ‘Birds of Passage’ Wins Best Film at Cuban Festival

Source:  TeleSUR
December 15 2018

birds of passage colombian filmA scene of the Colombian film “Birds of Passage.”
| Photo: Twitter / @FilmotecaUNAM

The Colombian film “Pajaros de Verano” (or Birds of Passage), directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, was crowned with the Coral prize for the best fiction film at the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema held in Havana, Cuba.

RELATED:  Havana Film Festival in Cuba Opens With Film About Jose Mujica

“Pajaros de Verano” is a story set in the seventies, when the cultivation and sale of marijuana brought enormous wealth, and also decadence, to some families of the Wayuu indigenous community in the Colombian department of La Guajira.

The film, which was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and has been shortlisted to represent Colombia at the Oscars, also received the Coral prize for best original music at the Havana Festival.

According to Jenn Sepulveda, a Colombian film critic, the film’s success stems from its ability to become something more than an ethnographic description.

Its plot reconstructs the socio-cultural scenario faced by a couple of foreigners who came to La Guajira looking for cannabis. Their search, which might seem simple and trivial, ends up leading to drug trafficking, a business that merges power, violence, and death.

The story unfolds between 1975 and 1985, a time when Colombia went through episodes of violence derived from the competition between marijuana producers and cocaine traffickers.

“We looked for a feminine perspective for a genre that always tells its stories from the male voice. We looked for those silent stories they had not told us,” Gallego said, as reported by Canaltrece.

“Bird of Passage” the transformation of the ritual

At the center of that story is Ursula Pushaima, a character who embodies the female perspective from the Guajira, a matriarchal community in which strong, empowered women face everyday life within a conservative, macho society.

The film is infused with the magical realism of a culture where the value of words influences people’s relationships with the dead, dreams, and nature.

“The word is a means of negotiation. It is a way through which [the Wayuu] have been able to find peace, stability, and protection, despite not having clear rules as a community,” explained the female director of “Birds of Passage.”

This year’s edition of Havana Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday, will screen 333 Latin American films until Dec. 16

Havana film festival highlights regional cultural diversity


The 39th edition of the New Latin American Film Festival of Havana opened Friday night with an aim to highlight the cultural diversity in Latin America and the Caribbean region.

39th havana film festival 4.jpgThe film festival, which will run until Dec. 17, will showcase more than 400 movies among which over 300 are Latin American films.

The countries most represented at the event are Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and the United States, and 34 percent of the competing films are directed by women.

“In competition will be 19 fiction feature films, 18 short and medium-length films, 18 (from) first-time directors, 23 documentaries and 16 animated films,” said Ivan Giroud, president of the festival.

Giroud said producing films in the new digital era has become a challenge for the movie industry as social media and the Internet are new scenarios where any audiovisual piece can have a life of its own.

Related:  Argentinian women won victory in Havana

He referred to the festival’s transformations since its first edition in 1979 and said film industries in Latin America including Cuba must adapt to the new times.

“Time has passed, the world has changed, Cuba is immersed in reforms and the festival also changes. It’s an event that has transformed throughout time motivated by different circumstances and it has been a long struggle of which we have come out strong,” he said.

39th havana film festival 6.jpgAt the opening gala, the festival presented an honorary award to Brazilian filmmaker Carlos Dieguez, who sent a video message as he could not be present in Havana for personal reasons.
The Brazilian movie “The film of my life,” directed by Selton Mello and produced by Carlos Dieguez, was presented to over 5,000 people that attended the event at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater.

39th havana film festival 5 carlos diegues.jpgDuring the opening gala, the Choir of Honor was also presented to the director Carlos Diegues, for his valuable contribution to the development of the so-called Brazilian Cinema Novo. Photo: Leysi Rubio / Cubadebate

Founded in 1979, the New Latin American Film Festival of Havana aims to disseminate cinematographic works to enrich Latin American and Caribbean cultural identity.

Participants throughout its history include Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and other famous actors and directors such as U.S. director Francis Ford Coppola, U.S. actors Robert Redford and Harry Belafonte, U.S. actress Geraldine Chaplin, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and Spanish actress Victoria Abril, among others.

39th Havana Film Festival: More women directors in 2017

Source:  Granma
December 13 2017

By  Mireya Castañeda |

A total of 117 films by women directors feature in this year’s Festival

The 39th Havana Film Festival features the participation of a significantly higher number of experienced and young women directors than in previous editions.

39th havana filmfestival
Photo: Courtesy of the Festival

Although, “The figure is still not enough, it represents an increase, as 34% of films in competition are directed by women, which doesn’t mean to say that the decision is based on gender, but rather shows the high quality of films being made by women,” stated Festival President, Iván Giroud, in the first major press conference on the event.

For those who like statistics, 117 films by women directors are being featured in the festival. There are 38 women directors in the festival competition, with eight competing from among a total of 19 productions in the feature-length category; two shorts (out of a total 18); 13 documentaries (of 23), five animations (of 16), seven debut works (out of 18), and three in the category of post-production (out of eight).

Dominating the nominations for the Coral Awards are renowned directors from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile, as well as others from Bolivia, Cuba, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Ecuador.


39th havana film festival 2.jpgMeanwhile, the general program features a further 79 films by women directors among sections such as: Latin American Panorama; Full House; The Hour of the Short; Memory; Society; SOS Environment; The Colors of Diversity; Vanguard; After Dark; or Contemporary International Panorama.

It is obligatory to stop and take a look at the feature-length films in the competition, the main category of the festival, which this year features four renowned Latin American women directors, whose films have already been positively received in other festivals and by critics.

Lucrecia Martel

In alphabetical order by country and not preference, first up is Argentine script writer and director Lucrecia Martel, who received numerous awards for her 2001 debut work La ciénaga, including a Coral for Best Film and Best Director; in 2004 her second feature-length production The Holy Girl was nominated for a Golden Palm in the Cannes Film Festival, while her third work The Headless Woman¸also featured in the 2008 edition of the event.
Almost 10 years later she is returning to Havana with her new film entitled Zama, which after being screened during the 74th Venice Film Festival, was described as a “masterpiece” and one of the best films of the year, so much so that it has been chosen to represent Argentina at this year’s Oscars and Goya Awards.

The script for Zama, based on the novel by Antonio di Benedetto, was written by Martel herself. The film, a historic epic whose attention to detail has been highlighted by critics, tells the story of Don Diego de Zama, a 17th century Spanish officer waiting to be transferred from Asunción to Buenos Aires.

Anahí Berneri

This time Lucrecia Martel is competing directly against fellow countrywoman Anahí Berneri in Havana, who also boasts an impressive filmography, which features five feature-length films, A Year Without Love (2005); Encarnación (2007), It’s Your Fault (2010), Aire libre (2014) and most recently Alanís, for which she received second prize in the category of Best Director during the 65th San Sebastián Festival, while Best Actress went to the film’s star Sofía Gala Castiglione, whose performance as Alanís was described as stunning.

39th havana film festival 3.jpgMexican director Maria Novaro seeks to excite children’s imaginations with her new film Tesoros. Photo: Courtesy of the Festival

In this film, Berneri has chosen to explore two themes, prostitution and maternity, while reviews are already describing the work as a must see, not only given Castiglione’s performance, but also the way in which the director uses maternity and prostitution to talk about women’s rights to decide what to do with their bodies and how to survive in a brutally unequal world.

Lucia Murat

Next up is Brazil, and another well-known director Lucia Murat (Brave New Land, Almost Brothers – Best Film at the International Festival of Ibero-American Cinema in Mar del Plata – and How Nice to See You Alive). This time Murat is competing with Paris Square.
The title of this film denotes the influence, in all her works, of the years she spent in prison during the country’s military dictatorship, where she was tortured. In Paris Square specifically, the director attempts to show how a person’s incarceration affects the entire family, and does so with an impeccably produced drama.

Maria Novaro

The fourth woman director is Maria Novaro from Mexico, who returns once again to compete in Havana. Lola, her first feature-length script born out of the Projects Workshop run by Gabriel García Márquez and Robert Redford at the San Antonio de los Baños International Film School, saw her win the Coral Prize for Best Debut Work in the 1989 Havana Festival.

But that’s not all, Novaro returned to the event in 1991 with her second feature-length production, entitled Danzón, which won another Coral Award, while its protagonist María Rojo, received the prize for Best Actress. Now a cult film, Danzón features among the 100 best Mexican films.

With The Garden of Eden in 1994, Novaro won her third Coral in Havana and is now back with Tesoros (2017), her first feature-length kids film.

Novaro’s new work, which won the prize for Best Family Film in the San Diego Festival, includes an attractive feature, of the 15 children, aged between three and 11 who make up the cast, three of its protagonists are grandchildren of the director.
Novaro, who writes the scripts for all her films, has stated that in each she seeks to tell the story of the many Mexicos which exist. Meanwhile, regarding her latest production she noted that given the current situation in the country, where children no longer play outside or invent stories, it is important to offer them positive messages.
The title of the film gives a clue as to what it’s about, Tesoros meaning treasures, is a term of endearment often used by parents when referring to their children, and here a kids’ game to search for a treasure chest buried four centuries ago by English pirate Francis Drake.

Four outstanding women directors competing for one of the Film Festival’s Coral Prizes. The decision, where there is always a fine line between objectivity and subjectivity, is down to the judges. Despite the fact that it rarely coincides with that of critics and much less the public, it will, as always, be a surprising end to the Festival.

New Cuban film tells a beautiful moving story

Source:  Granma
May 13 2016

by: Mireya Castañeda |

Cuban film premiers this 2016

Premiers, recent projects, post-productions, and films in the making all point to another good year for Cuban  film

new cuban film 2016 1.jpg

Director Jonal Cosculluela together with the films protagonists Reynaldo Guanche and Yuliet Cruz look over the script for Esteban.  Photo: courtesy of ICAIC

A new Cuban film has arrived in theaters. This time we welcome Esteban, Jonal Cosculluela’s debut picture, which has seen the director deviate from sex and violence to tell a beautiful, moving story.

Prior to the film premier which took place at Havana’s Charles Chaplin Cinema, the director held a press conference in the Fresa y Chocolate Cinematographic Cultural Center where he spoke about the importance of fighting for what you love. Esteban explores the story of a misunderstood nine year old boy who dreams of learning to play the piano.

Reynaldo Guanche and Yuliet Cruz

Cosculluela chose Reynaldo Guanche to play the protagonist, who according to the director, required extensive preparation given the boys lack of a musical or acting background.

Versatile and renowned actress Yuliet Cruz plays Miriam, the pragmatic mother who can barely afford to buy Reynaldo school shoes, let alone piano lessons.

Despite having taken on a similar role in Ernesto Daranas’ multi-award winning film Conducta, playing the mother of the protagonist Chala, Cruz’s talent and wealth of experience have allowed her to portray an entirely different kind of character.

The feature-length film, produced by record label Colibrí, RTV Comercial and Spanish firm Mediapro, also stars Cuban actors Manuel Porto, Raúl Pomares and Corina Mestre.

Music written and interpreted by four-time Grammy Awards winner

The storyline, the music – written and interpreted by Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés (winner of four Grammy Awards) – and performances have won the film the approval of Cuban moviegoers.
Two other productions were premiered at the beginning of the year, La cosa humana, by renowned director Gerardo Chijona and another debut fiction film, Café amargo, by documentary maker Rigoberto Jiménez.

Despite the fact that his two most recent films Boleto al paraíso and Esther en alguna parterepresent a departure from hispreferred genre – sharp and socially critical comedy – Gerardo Chijona (director of the classic film Adorables mentiras) returns to humor with La cosa humana,a light-hearted comedy full of double meanings which explores the virtues and defects of human nature, hence the title.

Explicit homage to the art of film making

Among the unique features of the film, produced by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), is its explicit homage to the art of film making, specifically the Coen brothers,Godfather trilogy and U.S. TV series The Sopranos.

Fernando Pérez directing a scene from Últimos días en La Habana with actor Jorge Martínez. Photo: courtesy of ICAIC

La cosa humana’s production teamfeaturesmany of the top names inCuban cinema: cinematography, Raúl Perez Ureta; music, Edesio Alejandro; and editing by Miriam Talavera. However, the film’s main attraction is its cast which includes the young Héctor Medina alongside veteran actor Vladimir Cruz (famous co-star of Fresa y Chocolate) in addition to the experienced Enrique Molina.
This cruel comedy also sees impeccable performances from top professionals such as Carlos Enrique Almirante, Amarilys Núñez, Marielis Ceja, Mario Guerra and Osvaldo Doimeadiós.

Café amargo – the story of four sisters

The other premier, Rigoberto Jiménez’s debut picture Café amargo, tells the story of four sisters (played by Yudexi de la Torre, Yunia Jerez, Janet Batista and Venecia Lanz) who live alone in a coffee growing region of the Sierra Maestra.

The film takes place in two different time periods, firstly during the sisters’ youth toward the end of the 1950s, while the second half of the film (starring Coralia Veloz, Adela Legrá, Oneida Hernández and Mirelys Echenique as the now older sisters) takes place during the 1990s. The male characters are played by the young Carlos Alberto Méndez and Raúl Capote.

The script for Café amargo, written by Arturo Arango and Xenia Rivery, received an award in the Haciendo cine (Making film) competition, part of the ICAIC sponsored young filmmakers event, Muestra Joven. Café amargo, an independent production, also received the support of ICAIC, the International Film School, Televisión Serrana and the Martin Luther King Center.

Últimos Días en La Habana

Yet to be premiered nationwide, but previously screened during the Muestra Joven 2016 event, is the feature-length fiction film Últimos Días en La Habana, a Cuban-Spanish co-production and most recent offering from multi-award winning director Fernando Pérez.

National Film Prize winner, Pérez is a filmmaker who has captured the attention of audiences since his debut work Clandestinos (1987), followed by highly successful films Hello Hemingway (1990), anthological picture Madagascar (1994) La vida es silbar (1998), Suite Habana (2003), José Martí: El ojo del canario (2011), La pared de las palabras (2015).

Últimos días en La Habana is a simple film with a strong story line. Pérez himself notes, “Like all my films I have given myself challenges. In this case my greatest challenge was having the story take place 75% of the time in just one room. It was something I had never done before and I really wanted to experience.”

Últimos Días en La Habana explores the relationship of a man dying of AIDS with his environment and relations; with celebrated actors Jorge Martínez and Patricio Wood taking on the film’s lead roles.

Leontina – a fantasy film

Scheduled to be premiered at the end of May is Leontina, a feature-length film by Rudy Mora (Y sin embargo…, 2012) starring well-known actors Corina Mestre, Fernando Hechavarría and Blanca Rosa Blanco.

An advance copy of the synopsis for this fantasy film, an uncommon genre in Cuban cinema reads: “In search of adventure, a young boy organizes an expedition to El Legionario, a remote store which sells candy at a certain time of day. On the journey the characters come across a strange town and face obstacles placed in their way by some of the powerful residents. However, the children’s fascination with Rodrigothe bizarre owner of El Legionario, and the store itself changes everything.”

Meanwhile, Cuban director Lester Hamlet has recently finished his third feature-length fiction film,Ya no es antes, starring Isabel Santos and Luis Alberto García (who have worked together since the classic picture Clandestinos).

Migration and family separation

Ya no es antes returns to the theme of migration and family separation, two common issues in Cuban film; and is inspired by one of Alberto Pedro’s most popular plays from the 1980s, Weekend en Bahía.
With photography by Raúl Pérez UretaRaúl Pérez Ureta (long-time collaborator with Fernando Pérez and Gerardo Chijona), the film is an ICAIC production.

The premiers are set to continue through the year asEsteban Insausti (Larga distancia, 2010) has already begun to film his new feature-length fiction Club de jazz, also produced byICAIC.

According to the organization’s website, the story of an old jazz club which is about to be demolished, is explored through the lives of three different generations of musicians; while the cast includes Álvaro Rodríguez, Raúl Capote, Yasel Rivero, Héctor Noas, Samuel Claxton, Yailene Sierra, Alicia Hechavarría, Mario Balmaseda and Luis Alberto García.

Premiers, recent projects, post-productions, and films in the making all point to another good year for Cuban film.

Life and Debt: Jamaica, the IMF and Michael Manley

life and debt

To thousands of tourists, it is the happy island of rum, reggae and sunshine. But a new film reveals how rich countries and the IMF keep the Caribbean poor.

Awards won by Life and Debt

By Linton Kwesi Johnson
Feb 2003
Source:  Jamaica uncovered The Guardian

“The issue is to make globalisation work for all. There will be no good future for the rich if there is no prospect for a better future for the poor.” That glib, cynical statement from International Monetary Fund director Horst Köhler is brilliantly exposed for the platitude it is in Stephanie Black’s engaging documentary Life and Debt. Black’s film is incisive in its examination of how IMF and World Bank policies, determined by the G7 countries, led by the US, impact on poor developing countries.

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5th Traveling Caribbean Film Showcase in Cayman June 18 – 29, 2013

travelling-caribbean-film-showcase-5th-edition-posterThe Traveling Caribbean Film Showcase (TCFS) is an annual film festival representing filmmakers from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and its diasporas. The Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) is proud to be the Organising Committee for the Cayman Islands.


From June 18th – 29th, the Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase will celebrate its 5th anniversary in the Cayman Islands. CNCF in association with Hurley’s and Fruta, will screen 21 films that have been selected for this year’s showcase, as well as host country nights to highlight films from Cuba, Haiti, Belize, Venezuela, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and more! From magical animated movies for children to fascinating documentaries and love stories, as well as controversial films on what some might consider taboo, TCFS provides audiences with a wide selection to suit every taste.

• Click here to download the TCFS programme for week one – June 18th-22nd 

• Week two – June 23rd-29th will be posted on Monday June 8th.

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