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16th Havana Film Festival New York Premiers New Latin American Films

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The 16th Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY), a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC), presents a first-rate program showcasing more than 45 films from and about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the United States, April 9-17, 2015. The line-up includes a tribute to acclaimed Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez; a retrospective celebrating the presence of music in Cuban cinema; and premieres from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, the United States and Venezuela. The festival takes place in venues throughout the city, including Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx — the Quad Cinema in Manhattan is its main venue. Most foreign language films are subtitled in English.

“Our premise this year is to bet on movies you see, read, and hear, hence our special focus on music and on one of the greatest figures in Latin American literature,” says Diana Vargas, artistic director of HFFNY, who adds: “We also highlight fresh stories that reflect Latin America at a unique social and artistic moment.”

HFFNY warms up its engines on March 27 at 6pm with a free screening of Rumba Clave Blen Blen Blen by director Arístides Falcón Paradí as part of the First Fridays! event at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. The film takes us on a historical journey that traces the history of rumba in New York, paying homage to grand masters of the genre like Chano Pozo and his collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie.

“HFFNY reflects, through cinema, our mission to build cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba,” said Carole Rosenberg, president of AFLFC. “In the year of our foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are proud to share with our audience a creative and glowing program that offers a rich rainbow of Latino stories from across the continent.”

On Thursday, April 9 starting at 5:30pm at the Director Guild of America Theater, HFFNY rolls out the red carpet to officially start-off its 16th edition with the New York premiere of Boccaccerías Habaneras / Boccaccio in Havana, the second feature by acclaimed Cuban director Arturo Sotto (The Transparent Woman). This box-office hit intertwines three stories through a main thread: a writer’s room where people go to share anecdotes hoping to make some money and become characters of a novel or a movie. An urban Boccaccio, a Havana Decameron; the film exudes sensuality, irreverence and hidden passions. Sotto will present the screening, followed by a Q&A.

On Friday, April 17 at 6:00pm the festival wraps up with the Havana Star Awards ceremony followed by the New York premiere of the Mexican film Gloria, directed by Christian Keller. The film focuses on Gloria Trevi, the rebellious and controversial Mexican pop icon that became a huge success with her style and catchy songs until a larger than life scandal rocked her world.

Eighteen films compete for Havana Star Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Documentary.

Fiction Competition: Refugiado (Diego Lerman, Argentina), A Estrada 47 / Road 47 (Vicente Ferraz, Brazil), Desastres naturales / Natural Disasters (Bernardo Quesney, Chile), Tiempo perdido / Wasting Time (Alexander Giraldo, Colombia), Boccaccerías Habaneras / Boccaccio in Havana (Arturo Sotto, Cuba), La pared de las palabras / The Wall of Words (Fernando Pérez, Cuba), Vestido de novia / His Wedding Dress (Marilyn Solaya, Cuba), Venecia / Venice (Enrique (Kiki) Álvarez, Cuba–Colombia), Los bañistas / Open Cage (Maximiliano Zunino, Mexico) and Mr. Kaplan (Álvaro Brechner, Uruguay).

Documentary Competition: Un asunto de tierra / A Matter of Land (Patricia Ayala, Colombia), Otra isla / Another Island (Heidi Hassan, Cuba), Omara: Cuba (Lester Hamlet, Cuba), Tú y yo / You and Me (Natalia Cabral, Dominican Republic), Llévate mis amores / All of Me (Arturo González Villaseñor, Mexico), The Troublemaker, behind the Scenes of the United Nations (Roberto Salinas, Nicaragua-U.S.-Italy), Havana Curveball (Marcia Jarmel, Ken Schneider, U.S.–Cuba) and El silencio de las moscas / The Silence of the Flies (Eliezer Arias, Venezuela).

 This year’s edition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the landmark film Nosotros, la música / We, the Music, by Director Rogelio París with a 11-film archival program that highlights the importance of music in Cuban cinema. These films showcase a variety of Cuban musicians, dance styles, and rhythms. The selection, curated by Luciano Castillo, film critic and director of the Cinematheque of Cuba, includes some U.S. and New York premieres. Several of the films were restored to near mint condition and subtitled especially for the occasion.

Gabriel García Márquez, The Cinephile honors one of the greatest Latin American writers. This tribute includes a panel discussion and screenings of rarely seen works where Gabo was involved in its production or screenwriting. Films include La langosta azul / The Blue Lobster, Cartas del parque / Letters from the Park, En este pueblo no hay ladrones / There Are No Thieves in this Village, and the documentary by filmmaker Estela Bravo, A Conversation with Garcia Marquez about his Friend Fidel. Panel participants are legendary Colombian photographer, Nereo López; film critic Luciano Castillo; and curator Alan McLane. The program will wrap up with a reception.

 HFFNY also features a program for children including two Cuban productions: Alejandrito y el cuco / Alex and the Boogie Man, by Alex Medina; and Fernanda y el extraño caso de Dr. X y Míster Jai / Fernanda and The Strange Case of Dr. X and Mr. Jai, by Mario Rivas; and the Argentine feature Choele, by Juan Sasiaín.

The borough of Queens gets its share of the festival with screenings at the Museum of the Moving Image. On Friday, April 10 at 7:00 pm, Omara: Cuba, by Cuban Lester Hamlet, has its world premiere followed by a Q&A with the director. This moving documentary about the life and career of Omara Portuondo, known as the Diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, includes testimonials by prominent personalities in Cuban culture. On Saturday, April 11 at 6:30 pm, the museum hosts the New York premiere of the multi-award winner A estrada 47 / Road 47, by Brazilian Vicente Ferraz; and on Sunday, April 12 at 7:00pm, it screens Cuban film Boccaccerías Habaneras, by director Arturo Sotto.

On Friday, April 10 at 5:00 pm at the Quad Cinema, HFFNY welcomes Los bañistas / Open Cage, by Mexican Maximiliano Zunino. The film tells the story of two neighbors who have to learn to relate to each other, not only to survive the economic crisis, but also to find meaning in their lives. On Saturday, April 11 at 5:15pm, the documentary Un asunto de tierras / A Matter of Land, by Colombian filmmaker Patricia Ayala, recounts the first year of the implementation of Colombia’s Land Restitution Act from the perspective of a community that has decided to engage with the process. On Sunday, April 12 at 4:45pm, Dominican feature Tú y yo / You and Me, is presented by its directors Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, followed by a Q&A. Later that evening, at 8:45pm, Brazilian film A estrada 47 / Road 47 is presented by its director, Vicente Ferraz, followed by a Q&A. On Monday, April 13 at 7:00 pm, Refugiado, by Argentine Diego Lerman, has its New York premiere. The film chronicles how 7-year-old Matías and his newly pregnant mother, Laura, flee their house after another outburst of violence from his father, Fabián. On Tuesday, April 14 at 6:45 pm, the Chilean film Desastres naturales / Natural Disasters, is presented by its director, Bernardo Quesney.

HFFNY is proud to collaborate with one of the most prestigious educational entities in the city – the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and its BFA Film and Video Department. On Monday, April 13 at 6:00 pm, we co-present a special program, Cuba: New Film Generation. This sampling of shorts films by young Cuban filmmakers includes Las ventanas/ The Windows, by Maryulis Alfonso; Miénteme bien, Jackie Chang / Be a Good Liar, Jackie Chang, by Grethel Castillos and Adolfo Mena; and ABECÉ, by Diana Montero. At 7:30 pm an exceptional open dialogue, New Opportunities and Incentives to Shoot your Indie Movie in Latin America and NY State, features Connie McFeeley, Director of Film Tax Credit Program of Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television Development; Adelfa Martínez, Director of the Colombian Film Institute; Iván Giroud, Cuban producer and Director of Havana’s International Festival of New Latin American Cinema; and moderator Louis Perego, Director of Prime Latino Media. Simultaneous translation is available.

On Tuesday, April 14 at 5:00 pm at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center (KJCC), HFFNY celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landmark Cuban film by Rogelio París  Nosotros, la música / We, the Music. The program includes short films Celeste Mendoza and Las D’ Aida, both by Cuban José Limeres, followed by Nosotros, la música / We, the Music. At 7:00 pm, screenings include Y… tenemos sabor, by Sara Gómez, Con todo mi amor, Rita, by Rebeca Chávez, and Las manos del ángel, by Esteban Insausti. These films portray the central role of Cuban music in the island’s filmmaking. On Wednesday, April 15 at 5:00 pm KJCC hosts En este pueblo no hay ladrones / There Are no Thieves in this Village, by Mexican Alberto Isaac.

HFFNY Closing Night takes place Friday, April 17 at 6:00 pm at the Directors Guild Theater. The evening starts with the announcement of the prestigious Havana Star Prizes, followed by the New York premiere of Gloria, introduced by its director, Christian Keller, and actors Sofia Espinosa and Marco Perez.

Detailed information about all festival programs is available at www.hffny.com.

The presenting sponsor of the 16th HFFNY is NBC/Telemundo 47. Additional sponsorship is provided by El Diario/La Prensa, AARP, Xael Charters, Dream Hotel, Latino Artists Round Table (LART), WBAI Radio, The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, AS/COA’s Young Professionals  of the Americas (YPA), UPLIFTT, LatAm Cinema, United Latino Professionals, Habanero Films, Fundación Patrimonio Fílmico Colombiano, Acceso Filmoteca UNAM, Aguijón Films, The Sound of Two, Brazilian Consulate General of Brazil in New York, the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Media sponsors are Pie Derecho, Queens Latino, Latinos en Foco, and EnRola TV. 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.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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