Havana Film Festival, two decades as a cultural window in New York

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Havana Film Festival, two decades as a cultural window in New York Cuban actor Hector Noas poses on his arrival at the red carpet of the 20th edition of the Havana Film Festival, on Tuesday, in New York (United States). EFE

 New York, – The Havana Film Festival in New York, which started its twentieth edition this evening with the assistance of directors, actors and producers, has established itself as a window for the cultural richness, traditions and diversity of Cuba and of Latin America in the United States.

The event, which will take place from 9 to 16 April with more than 35 films, half of them directed by women, began with the feature film “The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste García”, which marked the debut as director of the Cuban Arturo Infante, who was absent.

The festival will present films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru and Spain, many of them in international premiere or in the US and come to win prizes at other festivals, according to the organizers
The festival pays tribute each year to the legacy of important directors and in its twentieth anniversary will be recognized Fernando Pérez, one of the most respected filmmakers in Cuba, with the presentation of some of his most emblematic works as “Suite Habana” (2003) and “Clandestinos” (1988), as well as his most recent film, “Insumisas” (2018).

For two decades, this cultural event has fulfilled the goal of “opening roads” and that people “open their minds and ideas to other ideas and what others think.” It has been the most vital, “Diana Vargas told Efe. its artistic director.

He stressed that it is not just a Cuban cultural festival, but also Latin American and Latin American in the US, where the directors have been able to tell the different ideas of thought and the idiosyncrasy that identifies each country, “and that’s the important thing “
“It is important that there is an exchange of ideas from the perspective of the people who live these processes,” he said.

However, the festival has never been exempt from diplomatic tensions between the United States. and Cuba, and this year is not the exception since it has been affected by the closure of the visa office of the US embassy in Havana dictated by the Donald Trump government.

To obtain permission to enter the United States, Cubans must complete the paperwork in a third country, which has caused several guests to be unable to attend the film festival, including Pérez, to whom they pay tribute.

“It is expensive to have to go to another country to apply for a visa (entry to the US) and there are no guarantees given,” said Vargas, who acknowledged that this edition has been the most affected by political relations between the two countries, of which the festival tries to stay on the sidelines.

“We have also maintained the position of not getting involved in political issues, but we believe in culture and art as the way to create bridges and make people really understand each other and their processes through stories,” he said.

For his part, the well-known Cuban actor of cinema, television and theater based in Spain, Héctor Noas (“Tell me how it happened”, “Central Hospital”, “The curator”), highlighted to Efe the importance of this festival, which shows the work done in his country, while lamenting that this new policy of the US Government. is affecting your peers.

“It is important that this festival is maintained, it is twenty years of friendship with Cuban cinema, I was with a film ten years ago and this year I am in three films that are presented”, including the one directed by Pérez, whose absence was described as ” very sad”.

“This Administration (Trump) has hardened the visas, the Cubans have to go to a third country to request it, they demand an investment of money and documents and then they get there and they do not give it to them,” he said.

He explained that Pérez decided not to do the management “because he had little time and most likely did not get it.”

This edition also commemorates the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana with a retrospective of some of Cuba’s best-known filmmakers, and the program includes the restored film “Memorias del subdesarrollo” (1968), directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, based on the homonymous novel by Edmundo Desnoes.

Vargas also stressed that this year will feature the renowned Cuban dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta for the presentation of the documentary about his life “Yuli”, directed by the Spanish Iciar Bollaín and based on his book “Do not Look Back”.

Acosta became the first dancer of the Royal Ballet of London and in January of next year will assume the direction of the Birmingham Royal Ballet (EFEUSA).

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