The 17th Havana Film Festival New York presents a strong program in celebration of the diversity of voices found today in Cuban and Latin American cinema and the inspirational stories they tell. Festival highlights include a tribute to the well-loved Cuban actors Isabel Santos (“Vestido de novia,” “Cuba Libre”) and Enrique Molina (“La cosa humana”); a retrospective commemorating the 20th anniversary of the late Tomás Gutierrez Alea, one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century; panels about filming and acting in Cuba; a special presentation of short documentaries about Cuban music; and World, U.S., and N.Y. premieres of award-winning features from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and U.S. Latinos.
Havana Film Festival New York, a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC) takes place April 7-15, 2016.
“I applaud HFFNY, its organizers, and supporters for fostering cross-cultural exchange and advancing the film industry here in our city and beyond,” says Mayor Bill de Blasio in his letter to HFFNY.
The main venue this year is Village East Cinema, with other screenings and events taking place at the Directors Guild Theater (DGA), King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU (KJCC), and Instituto Cervantes in Manhattan; the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens; and The Bronx Museum of the Arts in the Bronx.
All foreign language films are subtitled in English.
HFFNY starts with the kick-off event First Fridays! at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, April 1st at 6pm with a free screening of Oliver Hill’s “La rumba me llama” / “Rumba Calling,” the story of the rumba, from its roots to today, followed by a live performance with Cuban singer Melvis Santa.
Thursday April 7 starting at 5:30pm at the DGA Theater, HFFNY rolls out the red carpet to officially launch its 17th edition with the N.Y. premiere of the critically acclaimed, independent Cuban drama “El acompañante” / “The Companion,” set during the AIDS epidemic in late 1980s Havana. Pavel Giroud, one of Latin America’s most influential directors, will be at the screening presenting the film alongside Orishas front man and leading actor Yotuel Romero.
On Friday April 15 at 6:00pm the festival closes with the Havana Star Prize ceremony followed by the N.Y. premiere of “Papa,” the first Hollywood picture filmed in Cuba since 1959. The film tells the story of a young journalist who becomes friendly with Ernest and Mary Hemingway and witnesses Hemingway’s decline with the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution. Director Bob Yari will be presenting the film, followed by a Q&A and A Latin Night Party.
“No doubt Latin American cinema is having an extraordinary moment. Its strength comes from not only the fresh cinematic forms found in these movies, but the audacity and boldness of their filmmakers,” says Diana Vargas, artistic director of HFFNY, who adds “In our 2016 line-up, we offer a raw worldly view of intimate stories and national histories that challenge us to expand our perspectives.”
18 films are in competition for Havana Star Prizes: Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress and Documentary.
Special presentations will include Paddy Breathnach’s “Viva,” Ireland’s Oscar submission for best foreign language film; Cuban filmmaker Jessica Rodriguez’s “Espejuelos oscuros”/ “Dark Glasses,” and Ernesto Padrón’s film for children “Meñique” / “Tom Little and the Magic Mirror.”
Highlights of HFFNY 2016 include the world premieres of “La ballerine,” by Miguel Rueda – an animated short inspired by an urban legend of a ghost sighting at the Elizabeth Theater in New Jersey; “La rueda de la vida” / “The Wheel of Life” by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, which follows the founder of Casino-the Cuban dance that launched salsa; and “Espejuelos oscuros” / “Dark Glasses,” directorial debut of Jessica Rodriguez starring international Cuban stars Laura de la Uz and Luis Alberto García, the film tells a love story in four different eras in Cuban history.
HFFNY collaborates with the prestigious Instituto Cervantes, one of NYC’s premiere cultural entities, to co-present a tribute to adored Cuban actress Isabel Santos. The program includes the screening of “Vestido de novia” / “His Wedding Dress,” which won her the Havana Star Prize as Best Actress and “El camino de la vida” / “The Path of Life,” a documentary she co-directed with husband, cinematographer Rafael Solis. Following the screenings will be “The Actor and the Camera: a conversation between Santos and Solis” moderated by Prime Latino Media director, Louis Perego.
HFFNY also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the late Tomás Gutierrez Alea with the program In Memory: “Celebrating Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s Legacy” featuring a screening of two of his works.
“We are so grateful for the level of support that has allowed us to achieve success year after year and provide a very special platform for filmmakers from Cuba, Latin America and Latino’s in the U.S.,” says Carole Rosenberg, President of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba
The presenting sponsor of HFFNY 2016 is NBC/Telemundo 47. HFFNY is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State legislators and supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the City Council.
Havana Film Festival New York takes place from April 7-15, 2016.