I flew off to Guadalajara film festival for the third time last week. Leaving my Saskia for the first time with her brothers and her adopted Cuban family. Two nannies and Rafa’s driver, Mario. In fact they all had a pretty good time. 70 photos from their jaunt around Habana Vieja. They went to the park of inflatables, the museum of classic cars, pizza for lunch, Paulo and Nico carried by the men on stilts through the streets, donkey rides in the park…….and more.
When I managed to get a call through on Friday evening from Mexico, Paulo told me calmly that he had been stung by a scorpion at school and was taken to the hospital to have an injection. Why do these things always happen when you are away? He was fine and quite proud of how brave he had been. All told, it had been little Nico who was the most upset for his big brother. Bless my little emotional one!
We arrived in Guadalajara late on Thursday night as we had missed our connection in Mexico City. We couldn’t find any of our friends to play with, as they were all staying in different hotels and they thought we were staying in their hotel. We found out later that there was a welcome committee in the bar of the Hilton Hotel waiting for us until 3am!
Anyway, not realizing there was a party a few metres from where we were standing, we went off to a party for the press in a cool bar, but full of such young people that we began to feel old and the night had got off to a bad start. We did not have our festival credentials as we had arrived so late, so Rafa who never pulls rank, reluctantly used his name to get us into the party, however the initial reaction of the revoltingly obese head of press for the festival (his stomach moved independently from the rest of his body) was so bad mannered that we could not get into the mood even when we had our free passes etc.
Usually in Guadalajara the Mexicans are so smiley and hospitable so we have got used to always feeling like VIPs. But once again it was fun at the festival and we met old friends, made new friends and I managed to watch two films. United Kingdom was the invited country and their had been a homenaje to Mike Leigh who had already been and gone, showing his latest film at the opening party. The British Council party had passed and although I thought I was going to be bumping into my folk all over the place, it wasn’t like that at all. I hardly even heard British music!
I was determined to make it to one film from the British contingent and noticed that at 4pm that day there was an interesting documentary on Andrew Logan that sounded just like my cup of tea, and it certainly was. Who is Andrew Logan?
A wonderful man, in my humble opinion. For those who are not familiar with the name, you will certainly be familiar with his style and influences. I found this quote about him on Wikipedia and it serves as a good introduction to this wonderful character.
Andrew Logan’s work blends camp pop-art and neo-romanticism to form a quintessentially English ‘eccentricity of vision’.
The documentary The British Art of Showing Off, by Jes Benstock was very well put together and served as a retrospective of the man and his art with a good dose of English humour. Synopsis from the catalogue read:
British Artist and living legend Andrew Logan, loved the world over by celebrities and misfits alike, takes us under his glittering wing and inside his outrageous, anarchic and spectacular costume pageant: the Alternative Miss World Show. Using live observational camera, archive and exuberant animation, this documentary charts the mounting of the 2009 Show, interwoven with its history, the rise, fall and rediscovery, of both the event and the artist at its centre.
As I sat in the over air conditioned theatre I chuckled away to myself and felt truly proud to be British watching some very famous eccentrics and admiring, once again, our ability to laugh at ourselves and not take life too seriously.
I hope I would get a chance to meet Andrew after the film but outside the cinema their was a narco battle taking place all over the city. Two weeks before there had been 8 decapitated bodies found and the police had finally, that day, nailed one of the top guys. Because of this, his gang was setting fire to buses all over the city (25 I think!). They were decent enough to get all the passengers off first though, a little touch of humanity in the madness. For that reason Andrew and Jes had not made it down to talk after the film. I managed to get a taxi and head back to find my slightly concerned husband waiting for me in the Hilton bar.
However, I was lucky enough to meet Andrew and Jes, the director, later at the Gay party and awards held in a club close to the festival. The Gay party was good fun and we had a handful of friends to help us along with our plastic pints of Tequila and sprite (yeah really elegant!). There were two dancers who came with their prerequisite 6 pack bodies but were on the podium, dancing badly like a couple of bored toyboy housewives and spent most of their time picking their skimpy underwear out of their bum in a very uncharming fashion. I am sure that if Andrew had organized the entertainment it would have been much more fun.
The closing night entailed another walk on the red carpet in my new woman shoes (with a heel!) and a great Danish film called Superclassico. We arrived back in Cuba on Sunday afternoon like true Cubanos with a suitcase full of nappies, cereal, tortillas, shoes, pesto, ……… and the rest.
I found my 3 children utterly charming and wanted to stay up chatting with them all night about their adventures, thinking maybe it is good to have the odd little break from being a mother ………. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. Paulo and Nico also had really good school reports from the French School waiting for us that brought proud tears to my eyes. They are well on their way to being trilingual, the clever little things.
Next trip we are all off to Guatemala for a wedding and a step back in time, but got to organize another party, and looking forward to the French food tasting evening on the roof terrace of the Sevilla, (very posh hotel in Habana Vieja).