Now in its 15th year, the Havana Film Festival New York brings the best of Latin American cinema to theaters, museums, and universities around the city. Here’s a Cuba-focused look at the schedule, spotlighting features, docs, and shorts from the island.
For the full schedule of films, April 3-11, check the HFFNY website.
Four of the ten films in the Fiction Features competition are Cuban productions, including the opening night Conducta (Ernesto Daranas, 2014), making its U.S. debut. The film, about an 11-year-old boy with a hard life and a strong bond to his sixth-grade teacher, played to packed theaters when it premered on the island earlier this year, generating a lot of buzz and some controversy for its unflinching perspective.
Here’s the HFFNY trailer for Conducta.
Making their New York debuts in the festival are Esther en alguna parte (Esther Somewhere), a 2013 film by Gerardo Chijona, whose Boleto al paraíso (Ticket to Paradise) took the top prize at the 2012 festival; Meleza (Molasses), by Carlos Lechuga, a 2012 drama about the closing of a sugar-cane mill and its impact on its town and a young couple there; and Se Vende (For Sale), Jorge Perugorría’s 2012 black comedy about the value of a cemetery plot in a tough economy.
Here’s the HFFNY trailer for Esther en alguna parte, starring Reynaldo Miravalles, who was interviewed in Cuban Art News during the film’s production.
All four of these feature films screen twice during the festival. For each, the director will be on hand for a Q & A after at least one screening, sometimes both. The young star of Conducta, Armando Valdés, will also attend the Q & A following that film’s second screening, scheduled for April 5.
In the Documentary category, one of the six contenders is a Cuban production: Lourdes Prieto’s 2013 Hay un grupo que dice (A Group is Saying). Taking its title from a song by Silvio Rodríguez, the film recounts the history of ICAIC’s Grupo de Experimentación Sonora (GESI), established by Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, Eduardo Ramos, Sara Gonzáles, Noel Nicola and Leo Brouwer.
Here’s the HFFNY trailer for Hay un grupo que dice.
Beyond the awards competition, the HFFNY schedule includes a range of special programs featuring Cuban productions. On Friday, April 4, the festival pays tribute to the late director Daniel Díaz Torres–also interviewed in Cuban Art News–with screenings of two films: the 2000 comedy Hacerse el sueco (Playing Swede), and La Película de Ana (Ana’s Movie, 2012), a convoluted and revealing twining of reality and fiction that is having its New York premiere at the festival. Also screening out of competition: Jirafas (Giraffes), a 2012 Cuba-Panama production by Enrique Kiki Álvarez, about a trio of young squatters, and Chamaco, (Juan Carlos Cremata, 2011), about the death of a young man in Havana’s Parque Central, in its New York premiere. Coro de silencio (Choir of Silence), a 2013 U.S.-Cuba documentary about “Operation Peter Pan” by director Roberto Rodríguez, another New York premiere, is also on the schedule.
Catch the HFFNY trailer for Jirafas here.
A series of classics celebrating 55 years of Cuban cinema showcases 14 films throughout the festival. Three of them—the animation El Cow Boy (Jesús de Armas, 1962), Now! (Santiago Álvarez, 1965), and Historias de la Revolución (Stories of the Revolution, 1960), the debut feature by Tomás Gutierez Alea—will screen on a program at the CUNY Graduate Center on April 9, followed by a Q & A with Luciano Castillo, director of the Cuban Film Archives. Other films in the classics series include Entre tres y dos (Rolando Díaz, 1985), a fiction feature about a famous baseball player facing retirement, and Buscando a Chano Pozo (Searching for Chano Pozo, Rebeca Chávez, 1987).
Screen a quick clip of Buscando a Chano Pozo here.
The 2014 HFFNY closes on Friday evening, April 11, with the awarding of the Havana Star prizes at the NY Directors Guild Theater. For more information about the festival, including schedule, film descriptions, and online ticketing, see the HFFNY website.