The movie industry keeps finding new ways of adapting to an ever-changing field. With so many new funding and distribution models, it can sometimes be hard to find ways of getting one’s film seen and noticed. Katra Film Series, now in its fourth year, has been providing a new platform for emerging filmmakers, blending a festival-type circuit with a year-long film competition: every month, a select number of short films are screened in New York City and the audience chooses which one advances to the second round of voting. At the end of the year, the finalists square off against one another at the Year End Grand Finale Event for a chance to win great prizes.
Last year’s finale (where 5 of the top 12 finalists were Latino projects) ended up offering the winner a meeting with acclaimed producer Stephen Nemeth from the Academy Award-nominated The Sessions and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — not bad for aspiring filmmakers hoping to get a foot in the door.
The May edition of Katra Film Series features two short films that were shot entirely in Cuba. Yunaisy, directed by Juan Pablo Daranas Molina, follows Carlos, a young Cuban filmmaker facing censorship for the first time who must choose between taking a great career opportunity or maintaining the integrity of “Yunaisy.” A Beacon in Havana, directed by Wilton Cruz and Fay Lellios, is the story of St. Nicholas of Myra Greek Orthodox Church in Havana, the first Church built under Fidel Castro’s government.
Both short films will screen at the Katra lounge in the Bowery alongside a handful of New York-based shorts as well as a powerful documentary shot in Liberia.