Havana Festival by and for Latin American cinema

Havana Festival by and for Latin American cinema

HAVANA, Nov 24. The House of the Latin American Film Festival has been located in an old mansion in El Vedado for years, where it is already playing these days.that immortalized music of José María Vitier that is repeated every December in Havana.

In the House, everyone has been in action for months. The Film Festival is approaching with new developments on board and at the head of that large compact group that has worked in the offices since yesteryear is today a woman with a long history in the industry.

Tania Delgado Fernández, who premieres at the event, from December 8 to 17, is responsible for a meeting that has become one of the most important cultural events in the country and a showcase of Latin American cinema for more than four decades.

Delgado received Prensa Latina at the Festival House, which in this 44th edition will be marked by several novelties, the participation of prestigious figures, including the Mexican María Novaro, and a rich theoretical event.

To this are added several tributes such as the one dedicated to the Spanish Luis Buñuel on the 40th anniversary of his death, another for the 30th anniversary of the release of the Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate (nominated for an Oscar), and to Juan Padrón, the father of animation on this Caribbean island.

-For the first time, the reins of the Festival are assumed by a woman with a long history at the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industries. How has she assumed this responsibility?

-It is not a question of being the first woman, but a responsibility in the history of an event as important as the festival, of such high prestige, the result of the work and the imprint of those who preceded me.

When we think about this event we inevitably bring to mind Alfredo Guevara, Julio García Espinosa, Pastor Vega, and Iván Giroud, and also those who are not talked about, those who work at the Festival and who are an essential part of it, making it possible every year.

At the Festival, its workers, specialists, and technicians have a deep-rooted sense of belonging; many of them have been in its organization for years.

That is why I assume the responsibility that this event imposes, from the seriousness and professionalism with which you have to arrive at this place and respond to all those people who have been here for so long.

-A new edition arrives, number 44. What new features will distinguish it?

-Beyond the programming, which is the heart of the festival, this event has a theoretical space that this year will pay attention to animation with a Forum named Juan Padrón in memoriam, dedicated to that reference of the genre in Cuba and in the region. We will also have a space focused on the challenges in audiovisuals in the digital era.

It is a workshop that is organized by the New Latin American Cinema Foundation, together with Cuban Television, and this year the Festival joins in hosting such an important theoretical space.

Another moment within the framework of the festival will be a panel on gender and diversity, focused on the audiovisual environment, where we will have a luxury panel with several figures such as María Novaro, president of the Film Institute of Mexico and prominent director and producer.

There will also be representatives from the Conference of Audiovisual and Cinematographic Authorities of Ibero-America (CAACI), UNFP, and other guests. This panel is sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund and the Palomas project.

Characterized by a space for thought, among the highlights of the theoretical program, there will be no shortage of topics such as “Cultural identity vs globalization?”, where intellectuals of high national and international prestige will be present. This is a two-day seminar at the Festival House.

There are other surprises, just to say that we are at full capacity, at the doors of the appointment. This year we will have a very high-quality selection, as we are accustomed to the public and we hope you enjoy it as much as always.

-In the midst of the current context, the festival continues. How has it strengthened after the pandemic and how is it recovering?

-The pandemic not only affected cinema but the world. We have a great global crisis and Cuba is no exception. This event would not be possible without the unconditional support of our government through our cultural institutions.

We are all committed to this festival as a window not only to Latin America, which is its reason for being but to the world in general.

Last year the call was opened a little more taking into account the

years of pandemic and in this edition we returned to the traditional presentation conditions, and we thought that we were going to decrease in terms of the number of films and that was not the case.

We are in the order of just under 1,800 titles registered, which indicates that the festival continues to be a benchmark within the region. A great effort has been made to have cinemas with high-standard technology, as befits international film festivals.

This time we will have five movie theaters so we have reduced the programming a little. We have had to adjust to a reality with an incredible effort to carry out the festival due to its importance in Cuban and Latin American culture.

-The Cuban public continues to support the festival, which has not lost its essence. What do you attribute this to?

-I think it is due to the exhaustive, serious, and professional work that those who make up the festival’s programming have traditionally done. Thinking about the tastes of the public, the Cuban and Latin American reality.

This is the moment in which Cubans can see the most recent Latin American and universal cinema, it is a cultural moment and also a festive moment. The festival has that magic of bringing together audiences, which it has earned over all these years. However, organizing it is a challenge.

-How do you see current Latin American cinema?

-In very good health. With the passage of time, the region’s cinema has managed to position itself in better places.

Today there are many international festivals that, unlike 50 years ago, did not exist and have a look towards the region, because it is very rich in its culture, very heterogeneous and that is what makes us an attractive region in cultural and creative terms.

Added to this are projects such as the International School of San Antonio de los Baños, in Cuba, the result of more than 30 years, a training benchmark in the region.

The Havana Film Festival has also served as a platform for meeting and protecting that culture and identity that, from its heterogeneity, makes us similar. Latin American cinema without losing its idiosyncrasy is becoming stronger every day.

-You have had an important role within the Industry sector. Within the framework of this 44th edition, Ibermedia will also play a leading role. Can you refer to this?

-Ibermedia was created within the framework of the Havana Festival, 25 years ago. Cuba has been a member since its inception. We maintain a very special relationship. The number of titles that benefited by this fund and that have been exhibited in this event totals 100.

It has played a fundamental role in the possibility of Ibero-American countries working together, to produce very high-quality projects, to make this cinema visible.

I believe that it was the impetus that the region needed for the development of cinematography beyond what existed until then and plays a predominant role in the region.

-Next year the festival reaches its 45th edition, constituted as one of the most important cultural events inside and outside the island. What are the challenges ahead for Latin American cinema?

-One of the great challenges is the distribution of films. So far we have been able to find ways for production since it is increasingly understood how important it is to promote national and regional cinematography.

On the other hand, distribution remains pending. For the next edition, and we have already started working on it, we want the Festival to serve as a space not only for thought but also as a bridge, a way for the region’s cinema to find paths.

Another challenge is to stay alive and in good health. In such a turbulent world, with realities that do not seem true after so many centuries of searching for a better humanity, like what is happening today in the Gaza Strip, an event like this cannot turn its back on those realities either.

In the end, cinema is the sample of our more or less fictionalized realities, but the truth is that it is our reality from the perspective of each director and that is the greatest challenge:

Count on the Festival, with its history and that level that it has always had, and maintain the main objective that is by and for Latin American cinematography and with it the Latin American culture and vision.