Every year, during the first two weeks of December, Cannes comes to Cuba with the opening of the Havana Film Festival. Starting in 1979 and pioneered by Alfredo Guevara, the famous intellectual and cinematographer, the festival has gone from strength to strength with its main aim being that of promoting the Latin American film industries and film makers.
With representatives from all over Latin America including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia ,Mexico and of course Cuba, many of the films on show address or confront many of the problems and current affairs in Latin America, be it drug trafficking, corruption or poverty, the Havana Film Festival is difficult to summarise but impossible to ignore. The sheer effort involved in making each film is reflected, the festival really does show the best of the best in Latin America, the hours spent slaving away in the editing room or poring over scripts fine-tuning the dialogue is apparent as the 420 entrants, picked from thousands, all yearn for the main prize, El Grand Coral.
After viewing the best the stars of the Latin American silver screen have to offer, the festival moves out onto the streets and into the bars and clubs of Havana, discussing the days winners and losers before laughing and dancing the night away with the obligatory accompaniment of mojitos and salsa, perhaps rubbing shoulders with celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Pedro Almodóvar, Blanca Rosa Blanco or Patricio Wood (star of Havana 57 and Mauricio’s Diary), all previous visitors to this celebration of culture.
The films are not the only entertainment on offer, workshops teaching visitors about the Cuban film industry, tours of the sites of famous contemporary Cuban films or some of the more conventional tourist activities on offer in the Caribbean’s biggest and most beautiful capital city.
Neither this festival, nor the fascinating city of Havana are to be missed so if you would like to get up close and behind the scenes of the festival, Esencia Experiences have a Film Festival package to help you get right to the heart of these brilliant festivities, curated by the well-renowned British Film critic/director Stephen Bayley (www.stephenbayley.com/)
With prices from £1705 for 11 nights getting you VIP passes to the festival, workshops in the National Film School and a tour to a Cuban TV studio, amongst many other activities, this really is the best way to experience the festival. For more information email Esencia Experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Dillon Hatcher