This December started so cold, maybe because of the warmth of the 36th Cinema Festival. In Havana the temperature did not go over 24 degrees, not even a single day. Despite that, there were many people making lines at the cinemas. It was wonderful! I saw many boys and girls dressed like if there were 30 degrees. Off course, most of the cinema lovers wore their coats.
I think that the first and most important award for each of the competing films - and I quote the actor Jorge Perugorría - who said that it is the audience and its complicity with the loved films. or silence and refusal in the case of movies not very well welcomed. Such a massive attendance was justified by the fact that the film sample was of the highest quality with and international diversity supported by several awards and recognitions in very important cinema festivals across the world. There were also five Cuban films in the competence. Films like "La pared de las palabras" by Fernando Pérez; "Conducta" by Ernesto Daranas; "Fátima o el Parque de la Fraternidad" by Jorge Perugorría; "Venecia" by Enrique Álvarez; and "Vestido de Novia" by Marilyn Solaya in addition to a non-competing film by Juan Carlos Cremata: "Contigo pan y cebolla". Five out of these films were premiered in this event.
I have made a research among cinema lovers and we all coincide that this is the best cinema sample since the 80s. It seems that the idea of diversifying of cinema is really working. Fernando, for example, made an independent movie, although his next project will be along with ICAIC, because this is not about attempting against ICAIC but finding new ways to make possible the creation of cheaper productions that can be made in a quicker way compared to the traditional means.
There were discussions about the importance of having small teams that rent equipments, from cameras to lights when they are not filming. There was also another debate about the importance of analyzing to work along with ICAIC and the Ministry of Culture to present a project of a cinema law. The debates were carried out in sessions like the day of the critics or in press conferences organized by the producers of each film.
There was no glamour?
I have heard some comments that our festival has no glamour. Our festival has never been like that. During the 80s when money was not as scarce as today there were more actors and directors from the USA, Latin America and Europe. But in general this has been always an event in which most of the people that attend are producers, script-writers an executives from other festivals who come to Havana to have an exchange with colleagues and to see how the Cuban audience welcomes their works.
This year we counted with the presence of Benicio del Torow who received a Coral Honor award while presenting the film "Escobar: paraíso perdido" by Andrea di Stefano,in 2014. This Porto Rican actor who playe the role of Che Guevara said: "I take the Coral with my hand and in my memory I take the warmth of the Cuban people. "I have friends here since at least fifteen years ago, or more". Other actor and North American director, Matt Dillon said in Havana: " this is a very cinematographic city, it is like a history lesson in every corner".
The producer Dan Haslted and the sound specialist Christopher Newman who won three Oscars by "The exorcist", The English Patient" and "Amadeus". The first of them said he was really impressed by the thickener character of Havana´s Cinema Festival which presented a wide film sample from different parts of the world.
It would be inexcusable not to mention Robin Baker, curator at the National Archives of the British Cinema Institute, with its Hitchcock 9 project regarding the restoration of the 9 mute films made by Hitchcock which have survived up to now. The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926) was screened at La Rampa movie theater accompanied by live music.
The seminars organized in each festival are always interesting but this time the films of this 26th edition approached the present reality: Will the series win over the films? What is the important ingredient to make a good one?
The presenters (more less provocative) were André and María Jacquemetton, script-writers and executive producers from the American successful series Mad men. Their confessions were a sort of decalog to create a product of this category.
The writer, journalist and politologist Ignacio Ramonet attended to the seminar: Television series: a new audiovisual paradigm. He had previously predicted the end of television as we know it. It is no longer "the home box". You can watch a TV program on Internet on your bedroom TV set, and follow it with your smart-phone while walking and then you can finish watching it when you arrive to your office.
Diego Lerman a young man from Argentina presented his fiction film "Refugiado" at the festival and lectured about the interesting way of creating a series staring from the example of "La casa de su cosecha". There are good news about these lectures: they will be published on the New Latin American Cinema Magazine next year like this one (number 16th) hosted the exchanges of the previous seminar of a "new?, Latin American?, cinema? This journal is essential to the students from the Cinema and Television School of San Antonio de los Baños and ISA´s Audiovisual Communication Media Art Faculty who constantly come to the screenings and debates around this topic.
The screening of digital films was quite an event in Cuba. Iván Giroud, the director of this event said in an interview: "Since the previous edition we insisted in passing from analogical cinema to digital during that spot in that festival - which caused some consternation - in which a digital film was born from a celluloid. This was the idea, to change the support and cinema is not going to die. These changes cause new dynamic and actions-reactions which were impossible to imagine when we were born. We continued insisting on the spot of the current Festival:
Iván continued: "For this edition, the Ministry of Culture supported the idea of giving the Chaplin movie theater a high standard projector (DCP) which has been a great contribution and effort due to the cost of such technology. This is essential for the development of a cinema festival like ours. And I hope this is something more effective so that the audience goes more often to the cinema, because the quality achieved by these screenings is not achieved by other platforms that control the way of consuming and enjoying cinema. We requested the help of the Spanish company Kelonik to multiply the number or the audience and this company lent us two of these equipments during the festival. And its technicians have come to Cuba to help us by training our staff here".
This circumstance explains by itself why there won´t be three days more - as usual - to continue the screening of the awards. But, this year, like during the 60s the cinema travelled to the city´s outskirts. The festival was carried out in different ways according to the local governments, some were more receptive than others.
The event was devoted to pay a tribute to Gabriel García Márquez, president of the jury during the first Festival in 1979 and president of the Foundation of the New Latin American Cinema in 1985. He also created the San Antonio de los Baños´ Cinema and Television School. The festival received men and women from Latin America who accompanied its films or who simply came to watch them.
The audience was huge and I still don´t understand why "Buró de información" was eliminated. I witnessed all the times in which there some directors looking for other directors and some got even lost. To make possible that the audience have access to those who participate in the festival, to exchange with them should be the mission of a few.
I leave the awards for the end. How could I be capable of not enjoying the Coral award obtained by the film "Conducta" and the award achieved by Armando Valdés Freire as Chala? I have enjoyed the award given to "Meñique" by Ernesto Padrón. I think it is fair to give an award to the editor and director of Relatos salvajes, by Damián Szifrón but I think that the award to Geraldine Chaplin in the film "Dólares de arena" was unfair, especially when Isabel Santos offered great performing lessons in films like "La pared de las palabras" and "Vestido de novia". Well, I won´t talk more about the awards: the jury can´t always please us.
I don´t want to finish this article without thanking ICAIC´s presidency for this splendid party given to us. I hope that next year the atmosphere is like in this one.
(Taken from Cubadebate)
Translated by: Osmany Ortiz González (Azurina)