The dust is settling on yet another Latin American Film Festival. I am becoming a veteran of these events, which is rather strange for a person who has never made a film in her life, Latin or otherwise. I am a self-confessed interloper in this world but I do love it! I used to escape home life of two baby boys, once a year to the Icaro Festival in Guatemala. My first visit to Guadalajara festival a few years ago is about the nearest thing Rafa and I have had to a honeymoon!
And quite frankly these days I don’t even get to watch many films during festivals or otherwise. Although I am introducing my boys to some classic James Bond to give them a little bit of British culture along with the Beatles and the Stones! I am well up on the latest Narnia, Harry Potter or other such delights of children’s cinema. Yesterday I had a discussion with Paulo and Nico on the reasons why Kung Fu Panda 2 was actually better than the first one! So you see the depths of film criticism that I am plundering.
So I have never made a film, but I do have 3 beautiful British Guatemalan Co-Productions to my name Paulo, Nico and Saskia.
This was my first Havana Film Festival, and I know it won’t be the last. The festival takes place in The National Hotel and several cinemas and locations around Havana. This year it also coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Film school (EICTV). And as usual, the annual meeting of the Fundacion del Nuevo Cine Latin Americano, of which Rafa is a long standing committee member. And of course there was the most beautiful full moon too.
So very busy we were. The films I wanted to see but did not get to see include: all the Cuban films, all the films made by friends, all the Guatemalan films I haven’t seen and a few Brazilian and Norwegian ones too!
At least now I know I have access to the film school film library and can console myself with the fact that over the next few years I can work my way through some of the marvels of Latin Cinema at my own, mother of 3, pace. I am just so glad I got to see a lot of films and read a lot of novels in my not always misspent, and quite extended youth.
With 3 children, it is the usual juggling act of childcare whilst I escape to the many receptions and parties to which I am always invited, to see the huge gang of film makers that make up this wonderful community that revolves around the energy of EICTV and the Fundacion.
But what is New Latin American Cine exactly? I am told that the term grew out of the dark days when most of Latin America was under right wing dictatorships. When writers, artists and filmmakers trod a delicate line with the authorities. Also the filmmakers wanted to break away from the avalanche of Hollywood cinema hitting the region and defend the right to express themselves through their own images and stories during a time of great artistic repression. And from what I can see the movement has not stopped growing since those days.
When I met my husband (whilst interviewing filmmakers in Guatemala) and we began our family (the two events pretty much coincided) I did not realise that I too was entering into another family. A family of amazingly talented and passionate, independent filmmakers, good friends, warm and wonderful people, who never once made me feel like the interloper I so obviously am. Who knows maybe one day I will make a film ……… all about them!
The Party at the Film School was almost rained off, not something that happens too much in Cuba. The Van Vans, could not play and Rafa could hardly wrap up the ceremony as the heavens opened, but it did not stop most of us having a crazy night of dancing, reminiscing and drinking. Workers and their families mixed with diplomats, students and former students, musicians, film stars, directors, film festival Jury and of course little old me. Also a handful of my favourite Guatemalans to help me feel at home in my new life!
I had bought a new red dress for the event so I was rather too easily identifiable and I managed to stay up until 5am. I have to admit that it has taken me a few days to recover. I managed to keep going for the party in our house in Havana, which took place the following night but just could not make it to the closing party of the festival. Sorry to those friends I did not get to say goodbye to, but it was a school night!! I would like to take you up on your invitations some day to visit Brazil, Berlin, Costa Rica ………etc, etc. But I’ll see you all in Guadalajara in a couple of months, I hope. Guest Country Reino Unido ………. Oh yes that is my little country! I have not forgotten you.