Havana film festival highlights regional cultural diversity

Sources: xinhuanet.com havana-live.com

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.

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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 | informacion@granma.cu

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.

Lula to Latin America: We Will ‘Defeat Neoliberalism Again’

Source:  TeleSUR
November 16 2017

lula nov 2017Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva declared that the struggle against neoliberalism in Latin America will continue. | Photo: EFE

Thousands of leftists from across Latin America amassed in Uruguay to march “against neoliberalism” and “in defense of democracy.”

“Temer out!” and “Macri out!” were among the demands chanted by thousands of Latin Americans marching in the name of progress through Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, on Thursday.

RELATED:  Mujica: ‘Militant’ Latin America Must Reject Neoliberalism

The mass mobilization, part of the three-day Continental Conference For Democracy And Against Neoliberalism, drew thousands to rally “against neoliberalism” — including free trade agreements — and “in defense of democracy.”

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, in a message broadcast to the assembled crowds, said: “In all our countries we have already defeated the neoliberal project once and I have no doubt that we will be able to defeat it again.”

It was da Silva, along with late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and late Brazilian president Nestor Kirchner, who 12 years ago defeated the U.S.-initiated Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Chavez Kirch Lula.jpg

Latin American countries fought together “to defeat the military dictatorships of the continent” and “the disastrous neoliberal governments of the ’80s and ’90s,” da Silva continued.

“Union movements, social movements and progressive parties were building the great popular victories of the last decade. The progressive governments of the region, in close harmony with the popular movements, resolved to promote great economic, social and cultural changes conquering an unprecedented dignity for our peoples.”  Da Silva also noted that the lessons of yesterday are just as relevant today: in particular in Brazil, which experienced “a violent blow to democracy” during last year’s right-wing coup.

The conference is set to continue for the next two days, attempting to interlink “struggles against the offensive of conservative and capitalist sectors in the continent,” according to the official website.

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Last week, former Uruguay President Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica called on “militant” Latin American organizations to join the meeting in order to share their knowledge of the various struggles on the continent and how best to win them.

The conference’s organizing group, comprising dozens of leftist organizations from across the continent, first met in November 2015 in the Cuban capital, Havana. In 2016, the same groups organized actions in a number of countries to mark their reorganization

Uruguay: Activists pay tribute to Fidel in Conference Against Neoliberalism

Sources:  TeleSUR,  La Santa Mambisa
November 16 2017

Thousands of union workers and citizens are attending the conference in protest against “disastrous neoliberal politics in the world.”

protests against neoliberalism in uruguay nov 2017.pngProtesters march against neoliberalism in Montevideo, Uruguay.
| Photo: Twitter / @confed_bancaria

Thosuands of activists are participating in Day 2 of the Continental Conference For Democracy And Against Neoliberalism hosted in Montevideo, Uruguay.

RELATED:   Lula to Latin America: We Will ‘Defeat Neoliberalism Again’

Union workers and citizens are attending the conference in protest against “disastrous neoliberal politics in the world.”

On Thursday, activists from across Latin America marched in the capital city, waving flags and chanting against the policies of leaders like Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Brazilian President Michel Temer.

Gabriel Molina, general secretary of the Union of Workers-National Convention of Workers, PIT-CNT, described the conference as “one of the most important mobilizations in recent years.”

PIT-CNT President Marcelo Abdala announced at the march that in 2018, Latin American workers will mobilize together “without exclusion.” Around 2,000 representatives from 23 countries are participating in the summit, according to the group.

Abdala said the meeting will serve to “confront the neoliberal policies that politicians are implementing, like the policies Uruguay lived in the 1990s.”

“We’re a part of America Latina and … we need to liberate the peoples of the continent and world,” he added.

Support for Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and El Salvador

The union president said that the neoliberal structural crisis in Uruguay led by right-wing corporations not only negatively affected the economy, but the country’s culture, values and humanity. Abdala and others fear that Uruguay will soon begin to suffer the austerity measures currently in place in Brazil and Argentina.

Abdala added that Uruguayan workers support Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and El Salvador, who are “attacked … with a machine gun that is directing the destiny of the world’s main power.”

He said the United States no longer has the power to act unilaterally, but has to negotiate with India, Russia and China, with whom Uruguayan workers will work with to create a better life for all. Abdala stressed Uruguay’s unions will continue to fight collectively and, “live, love and struggle” for a just world, “like the revolutionaries.”

Special day for Cuba

Today is a special day for the participants and for Cuba as a whole, since it is the day in which tribute is paid to the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

The homage of the more than 30 organizations and social movements is named “Fidel, eternal companion of fights”, and will take place at the Municipal Velodrome of Montevideo, at 7 pm (Uruguayan time), although since yesterday, in the mobilizing march that started the activities was the presence of the Commander in Chief, when those present from different regions of Latin America shouted Viva Fidel!

The Commemorative Act occurs in the context of the activities for the first anniversary of his physical disappearance. Representatives of Cuba, Uruguay, Venezuela and Argentina are expected to speak along with Oscar Andrade, the Executive Secretariat of the Central Única de Trabajadores, of Uruguay PIT-CNT; Yarisleidis Medina, of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, and Dayan González, of the University Student Federation of Cuba.

Let us all unite to pay homage to the undefeated Commander in Chief, promoter of Latin American Unity, defender of the humble and eternal fighter against neoliberalism.

fidel 44.jpg

Latin America Celebrates Centenary of Russian Revolution

Source: TeleSUR
November 7 2017

venezuelans gather for October revolution 100th.pngVenezuelans gather to celebrate the 100 years of the October Revolution.
| Photo: Twitter / PartidoPSUV

Bolivian President Evo Morales congratulated the Russian people on the 100th anniversary of their revolution.

Thousands across Latin America are mobilizing and celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Russian Revolution with various events throughout the region.

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In Venezuela, workers are marching from Caracas’ Autonomous National Telephone Company to the Miraflores Presidential Palace.

“We, as revolutionaries and socialist, join in this global commemoration,” said Freddy Bernal, a member of the National Directorate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who called for the mobilization.

In Peru, the Communist Party is hosting an event at the Auditorium of the Telephone Workers’ Union of Peru to celebrate the Russian Revolution. A series of events are also being held in Uruguay.

Meanwhile in Bolivia, President Evo Morales congratulated the Russian people on the 100th anniversary of their revolution, describing it as an example in the fight against tyranny and inequality.

“The Russian Revolution triumphed on this day, one hundred years ago. United, peasants and workers managed to form the first socialist state in the world,” Morales posted on his Twitter account.

The Bolivian government is slated to host an international meeting titled “A 100 years of the Russian Revolution,” in which its influence on left-wing movements in Latin America will be analyzed. Bolivia’s Vice-President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, is also scheduled to give a keynote address at the Central Bank auditorium in La Paz for the occasion.

Other events are taking place until Thursday in Peru, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America.

Russia’s October Socialist Revolution took place on Oct. 25, 1917, according to the Julian calendar, or on Nov. 7, according to the Gregorian.

It was the second phase of the 1917 Revolution, which was preceded by a mass women’s protest as they took to Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue of the former Russian capital of Petrograd, to protest their immiseration. Within three or four days, the Tsarist monarchy was vanquished

Asking nothing in return

Source:  Granma
October 6 2017

by Yenia Silva Correa | informacion@granma.cu

In only 39 years, the young man from the city of Rosario accomplished something not achieved by many who lived a century. He became part of the people’s history and remains so today.

che 21.jpg

Che’s Bolivian Diary contains entries from only the first week of October – the final days of the enduring life of the heroic guerilla. In his summary of the month of September, he wrote, “The army is now showing its effectiveness in action and the bulk of campesinos won’t help us at all, and are becoming informers.”

The proximity of army forces in the area in which Che’s guerillas were moving was a constant theme in his notes, be it a result of chance sightings or news heard on the radio, which as is often the case in such situations, could well contain misinformation purposefully disseminated to put pressure on the revolutionaries.  (Photo: Korda, Alberto)

Broadcast on the radio in fact (October 4), was a commentary that foreshadowed the events, projecting possible scenarios of a trial of the guerilla leader after his capture. The speaker did consider the fact that Che would not give himself up without a struggle, except in extraordinary circumstances like those that eventually occurred.

On October 5 and 6 soldiers were again sighted and the radio reported a disproportionate number of troops searching for the small number of guerillas. It was the prelude to the last note Che would write in his notebook.

October 7, final entry: A chance encounter with a woman crossing their path through the mud and a radio report. Beyond this, the mention of four comrades, but no indication of desperation. This was the human being murdered in Bolivia 50 years ago, who had accumulated much experience in guerilla struggle, both in Cuba and on African soil.

The same man who in December of 1964 had summarized his internationalism in a few phrases before the United Nations General Assembly, saying “… at the moment it may be necessary, I am willing to give my life for the liberation of any Latin American country, without asking anything of anyone.”

che during target practice.jpg

Che Guevara during target practice Photo: Archive

For Che, the idea of death, as part of the revolutionary struggle, was nothing foreign, nor a motive for fear. He was very clear: “In a revolution, one triumphs, or one dies (if it is a real one).” He was true to this principle until the last moment of his life.

Since his untimely death, the tributes to the paradigm of a new man, in every corner of the globe, have not ceased.

In Cuba, 1968 was declared the Year of the Heroic Guerilla. For decades, youth departed for Africa and Latin America to complete internationalist missions, inspired by his example. Hundreds of thousands immortalize his likeness on clothes and in tattoos; others venerate him like a saint; more than a few are committed to disseminating his thought and work.

Part of the people’s history

guerrillas in bolivia.jpg

Guerrillas in Bolivia. Photo: Cubadebate

In only 39 years, the young man from the city of Rosario accomplished something not achieved by many who lived a century. He became part of the people’s history and remains so today, from the time of his travels across the continent of his birth, and his participation in the Cuban Revolution (first as a Rebel Army Comandante and then playing a leadership role in the country) to his departure to other lands calling for his contribution. Asking for nothing, and giving his all, he left much more than his celebrated “Hasta la victoria siempre” (Forever onward to victory). His exemplary life and action are here. They never die.

So Long Columbus – Latin Americas Sticks to Its Roots and Celebrates Indigenous Resistance

Source:  TeleSUR
October 11 2017

so long columbus 1Choco, home to large Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities, is
currently the poorest department in the country. Some 65.9 percent of Choco’s population now live below the poverty line, according to Colombia Reports
Photo AFP.

In the recent years, the world has seen massive protests against the commemoration of Christopher Columbus day on October 9 with many nations replacing it with a celebration of Indigenous communities.

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The ongoing demonstrations denouce the fifteenth century explorer as the man responsible for decimating the first peoples of the Americas.

Indigenous communities make up about 13 percent of the total population in Latin America in countries including Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.

Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance

In 1990, Ecuador hosted the first ever Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance that was attended by nearly 400 people from 120 Indian Nations, International organizations, and a historic Declaration of Quito was signed.

“Genocide and ethnocide have been committed against us Indian people by European invaders in the name of “God, civilization and democracy” the statement said.

“The Indians of America have never abandoned our constant struggle against the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exploitation which were imposed upon us as a result of the European invasion of our ancestral territories,” it added.

The days of Indigenous resistance now recognized

Apart from Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are the other Latin American countries that have officially recognized the days of Indigenous resistance under different names.

For example, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, changed the day’s name to “Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America.”

While Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa initiated a “Day of Inter-culturality and Pluri-nationality.”

Argentina named it as the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.” Nicaragua and Venezuela on the other hand adopted the day as “The Day of Indigenous Resistance.”

“Our struggle is not a mere conjunctural reflection of the memory of 500 years of oppression which the invaders, in complicity with the “democratic” governments of our countries, want to turn into events of jubilation and celebration,” the 1990 Quito Declaration said.

“Our Indian People, Nations and Nationalities are basing our struggle on our identity, which shall lead us to true liberation. We are responding aggressively, and-commit ourselves to reject this “celebration,” it added.

RELATEDOctober 12: Day of Indigenous Resistance

Many cities in the U.S. have also ditched Columbus day for a celebration of Native American culture and life.

Columbus Day replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

52 cities across the country have now replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Inspired by the Quito Declaration, one of the first cities to make the move was Berkeley, California.

Others include Amherst, Northampton in Massachusetts,  Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Cruz in California, San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lawrence, Kansas.; Boulder, Colorado, Portland and Seattle.