The Havana Film Festival New York starts this weekend, and with so many unique opportunities to enjoy, learn about and even participate in conversations on Latin American cinema, it might be hard to choose which films to see and events to attend. Here’s an overview of what to expect and some of our recommendations:
Cuban Cinema: we all know that besides this festival and probably the New York Latino International Film Festival (NYLIFF), is almost impossible to watch a screening of a Cuban film in the city. This year, HFFNY honors Cuban director Juan Carlos Tabío and ator Luis Alberto García. Since the 1960’s, Tabío has convinced audiences that that comedy is not a secondary genre, and that humor can be deployed to take on serious, risky and complex subject matters. Luis Alberto Garcia’s impressive s craft, talent and versatility is not to be missed. So among other Cuban films, we recommend checking out El Benny (“Best First Feature” in Habana Film Festival, Cuba) which plays again after its success in the NYLIFF last. But of course, if you can, don’t miss any of them.
Estela Bravo Retrospective: For more than three decades, this iconic American documentary filmmaker has inspired artists around the world like Harold Pinter, Mario Benedetti and even drawing raves from the National Film Theatre of London. Eduardo Galeano has said of her “I would like to have as many eyes as Estela Bravo’s camera.”
The Panels: all of them are free and open to public. Don’t miss “Meet the Industry,” a conversation and Q&A with distributors and all the guest filmmakers visiting from Latin American. After the Q&A, you’ll have a chance to talk to them informally in a reception. This year the guest filmmakers are: Rodrigo Bellott (Bolivia), Ariel Rotter and Juan Taratuto (Argentina), Jorge Furtado (Brazil), Elías Gimenez (Guatemala) and Juan Fischer (Colombia). The Metropolitan Museum of Art will also host two family events in Spanish related to art and film. Over at Hunter College, check out a special series about Puerto Rican cinema, which includes debates and Q&A’s with filmmakers.
You See It First: Some films that were box office hits in their countries or won top international awards include: Quién Dice Que Es Fácil? (Juan Taratuto, Argentina), Quién Mató a la Llamita Blanca (Rodrigo Bellott, Bolivia), El Otro (Ariel Rotter, Argentina, Special Jury Prize at Berlinale and closing film at HFFNY), O Fim e o Princípio (Eduardo Couthino, Brazil, Best Feature, Habana Film Festival Cuba), Perfecto Amor Equivocado (Gerardo Chijona, Cuba, Official Selection Sundance 2004), and La Noche de los Inocentes (Arturo Soto, Cuba, Special Jury at Biarritz, opening film at HFFNY)
It’s Not Over Till It’s Over: Last but not least, this is the first film festival that after the closing night dedicates one more night open to public, so if you don’t have the chance to see the closing film and participate in the after-party, you must go to The Bronx Museum of the Arts to watch the world premiere Havana Kidz II and enjoy the last Q&A of the festival with the filmmaker, and a special party DJ Cato aka Congrí and the Grammy nominee David Oquendo’s Habana Tres Band.