Screenings and special events are scheduled for the Bronx, Queens, midtown and downtown Manhattan, and the Lower East Side.
More than 35 films will be presented, coming from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela.
Throughout the week, New York audiences will have the opportunity to view seven recent Cuban feature films. Festival screenings will take place in midtown Manhattan at the SVA Theatre (23rd Street) and at the AMC Loews 34th Street, as well as at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center (Lower East Side) and the New York Film Academy (Battery Place). Additional screenings are scheduled at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.
The festival itself is preceded by a First Fridays! preview event, presented by the Bronx Museum of the Arts in collaboration with the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture. The program at the Hostos Center begins with a 6 p.m. reception, followed by a screening of the documentary Playing Lecuona (2015), directed by Pavel Giroud and JuanMa Villar, about famed Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.
The movie will be followed by a musical performance by Contino y Los Habaneros, with music by DJ ASHO. Director Villar will be present for a Q&A. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.
Opening night, March 30, at the Directors Guild of America Theater in midtown Manhattan, features the New York premiere of Esteban (2016), a Cuba-Spain coproduction directed by Jonal Cosculluela Sanchez, about a talented 9-year-old who pursues his dream of becoming a pianist. The music is by Chucho Valdés, and the director will be present for Q&A.
Últimos días is a tragicomedy that explores the friendship, aspirations, and dreams of two middle-aged men living in a dilapidated building in Centro Habana. Miguel, a dishwasher in a restaurant, dreams of emigrating to New York while he waits for a visa that never seems to arrive. Diego, a homosexual afflicted with AIDS, struggles to maintain a cheerful attitude and to enjoy life while confined to his rickety bed. Actor Patricio Wood (Miguel) will be on hand for the screenings.
Carlos Lechuga’s controversial film, Santa y Andrés, has been withdrawn from the HFFNY. The film is set in a western province in the 1980s and follows the unlikely friendship that develops between a homosexual novelist, exiled there for his political activities, with a woman assigned by the government to prevent him from speaking at an upcoming political rally. The film was excluded from Havana's Festival of New Latin American Cinema in December, but was originally scheduled to be shown in competition for the HFFNY’s Havana Star prize. However, the festival opted to show it out of competition instead, and as a result of that decision, Lechuga has pulled the film from the festival.
Also on April 3, the New York Film Academy will host a special program on Cuban music. “Stories of Cuban Music” will include the US premieres of two documentaries: Rebeca Chávez’s Decir con feeling and Patricia Ramos’ Ampárame! La Religiosidad en la música cubana, with an introduction by Luciano Castillo, director of the Cuban Film Archives.
And on April 2, at the SVA Theatre, the festival pays tribute to EICTV, the International School of Film and Television of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, celebrating its 30th anniversary, with a selection of shorts from some of its most distinguished alumni, followed by Q&A with EICTV’s new director Susana Molina.
The changes taking place in Cuba today also have an impact on the cinema. On April 4, “Cuban Cinema Today” brings together a panel of filmmakers to discuss these changes. Participants include Jorge Perugorría, Enrique (Kiki) Álvarez, Jonal Cosculluela, Iván Giroud, Lester Hamlet, and Patricia Ramos, with film professor Michelle Farrell as moderator. All panels are free and open to the public.
The 18th HFFNY wraps up on Friday, April 7, at the DGA Theater, with the awarding of the Havana Star Prizes, and the US premiere of The Forbidden Shore, a documentary by Canadian director Ron Chapman. Featuring performances and interviews with the island’s top artists, the film offers a portrait of Cuba’s people, culture, and politics as experienced through the diversity of its music.
The Havana Film Festival New York is a project of the American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC). Carole Rosenberg is president of the AFLFC. Diana Vargas has been HFFNY’s Artistic Director and Programmer since 2003.
For schedule, ticketing, and detailed film information, visit the Havana Film Festival New York website.