Yara Theater in Havana, December 2, 2021STR
The 42nd Havana Latin American Film Festival rekindles its spotlight on Friday for its competition in a context marked by the economic crisis and still latent political tensions.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was cut in two: a first stage took place in December 2020 with the screening of films out of competition; As the epidemic is currently under control in Cuba, the second stage, with competition, takes place until December 12.
Fifteen cinemas, with a tonnage of 50%, will screen 102 films, including 16 in the premier category of feature films.
“The important thing is not to give up on the festival,” its president, Ivan Giroud, told AFP.
The event comes a year after the unprecedented mobilization, on November 27, 2020, of some 300 young artists in front of the Ministry of Culture, who demanded more freedom of expression.
Two figures of Cuban cinema then acted as mediators with the authorities: Fernando Pérez, one of the main directors of the island, and actor Jorge Perugorria.
But many participants in the sit-in in front of the ministry consider that the problems of the end of 2020 are still relevant and regret the lack of dialogue with the authorities. They do not rule out mobilizing again.
“We are aware that anything can cause an incident, can cause a situation of friction, we try to avoid it, but these are problems which are latent in reality”, explains the president.
Eight months after the mobilization of the world of culture, thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country on July 11 and 12, shouting “Freedom!”, “We’re hungry!” and “Down with the dictatorship!”.
Another difficulty is the economic crisis. The island’s economy fell 11.3% in 2020 due to lower tourism and the decline worsened in the first half of 2021.
“It was very difficult because not only there is this (economic) difficulty, but also the limited number of flights (…) as well as the price of tickets”, deplores Mr. Giroud.
In January, the Cuban government implemented a currency reform that caused soaring informal inflation of 6,900%.
“We do not know today how much the festival costs and I do not think that we will know it when it is finished, because of inflation”, recognizes the president.
The Havana festival, one of the most important in Latin America, attracted an average of 300,000 spectators before the pandemic for ten days. The Cuban state is the main supporter of this festival, founded in 1979.