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A Mid-Point View from the Havana Film Festival

Wednesday 11 December 2002

Locals are Flocking to the 22 Havana Theatres

Cubans have been looking forward to December when their annual Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano comes around again in the capital and throughout the provinces. In movie queues, streets, parks, factories and private homes, this is the top subject of conversation here. Thousands of cinema buffs fill the 22 theaters in Havana trying to catch up on the latest movies from their Latin American neighbours, and also view the latest in Cuban productions, which are very popular locally. For the premier of Frida, in spite of two screenings in one of the largest theaters in the capital, hundreds of locals viewers waiting to see the picture could not get a seat.

The controversial Mexican picture, Carlos Carrera's The Crime of Father Amaro, which has already caused a stir in Europe and the US, spearheaded the Latin American competition of 40 fiction features, which are shown together with an equal number of documentaries and animated films also competing for the Coral Prizes. The leading competing countries in terms of number of pictures are Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, most of which have already won prizes at recent international events. In the Cuban provinces, many of the films are being shown in video to avid audiences in local theaters.

Among the most attended features at this mid-point of the Havana Festival, are Mexican films, El crimen del Padre Amaro and Ripstein's La virgen de la lujuria (The Virgin of Lust) and Fernando Sariñana's Ciudades oscuras as well as Brazil's Abril desespedacado and City of God. Argentina's El bonaerense and Historias Mínimas, also top attendance pics, make them all top contenders.

This culturally well-rounded event is further enhanced by retrospectives, among which 40 years of French Cinema and Tati's satire on Americanisation in France Playtime, tributes to Argentine actor Federico Luppi, Glauber Roccha and Cesare Zapattini, concerts, debates, art exhibitions, and attendance by such illustory figures as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Harry Belafonte.

New Festival Announced

The First International Non-Budget Film Festival will take place from the 16th to the 20th of April of 2003 in the beautiful city of Gibara, located at the northeast of the island of Cuba. The event will be presided by the important Cuban film maker Humberto Solás, regarded as one of the anthological authors of Ibero-America, and it will grant awards that will allow the winning film makers to initiate or continue their film careers.

The Un-produced Scripts Contest will grant two significant prizes to a future film that will not exceed 250,000 USD. The Swiss company Swiss-Effects will guarantee the blow-up to 35 mm of the digital video in the post-production of the feature film of the winning script's author. In addition Laboratories ECLAIR will concede 10 copies of the negative of the resulting film. The Cesare Zavattini Award to the Best Short Film will consist of contributing 3,000 USD worth of audiovisual technology leasing for the shooting or post-production of the awarded film maker.

Reception of film scripts, feature and short films is open until the 17th of January 2003.

Film Diva Daisy Granados

Dark-haired beauty Daisy Granados, one of the top "3 Divas" of Cuban cinema, with Eslinda Nunez (jury member this year) and Mirta Ibarra (of Fresas and Chocolate fame), sometimes referred to as "The Face of Cuba" is celebrating her 60th birthday during the current Havana Film Festival.

As a young newcomer from the provincial city Cienfuegos, to the Island's capital, Havana, her life took a swift irrevocable turn when she passed her first screen test and after that, there was no going back to provincial life. That was in 1964. Even though that movie, The Decision, never made a dent, it started a series of opportunities for Daisy to display her sensual and earthy Latino talent to advantage both on the screen and on television resulting in a magnificent career of 30 roles in major Cuban productions from then onwards.

Very rapidly, she portrayed a reflection of a kind of womanhood of Cuba, starting with her 1968 appearance in Cuban maverick Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's picture, Memorias del Subdesarrollo. Her freshness, sensitiveness and natural beauty sparkled in the role of the young, apparently naive girl, who endeavours to trap middle-class Sergio Corrieri. Her performance then showed promise of talent that would ripen with time and it did.

Her most emblematic work however, which captured the public's total affection has to be her role in Portait of Teresa, directed by her spouse, Pastor Vega, which expounded her maturity as a woman of a unique talent for interpreting in depth all the singularities of the Cuban womanhood within a society in transformation.

Daisy Granados exemplifies, without a doubt, this Cuban reality, as reflected in Cecilia, a film by Humberto Solás and in Pastor Vega's Habanera, set in a more modern Havana. This rich talent has been noticed and harnessed by filmakers outside of Cuba as well, such as Spanish directors Víctor Erice, in 1969, and Fernando Colombo for Things I left Behind in Havana, and also by Chilean director, Valeria Sarmiento, in the recent film Rosa la China.

Therefore it is not at all suprising to find her, on the eve of her 60th birthday, during the 24th Festival of Havana, gracing the festival screens in Pastor Vega's latest film Only One Time, singing a "Corrida" before her Mexican students .

Helen Dobrensky,


Manager International Press Relations

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