Friday, 6 November 2015

Cuba – land of problem and promise

Fernando Perez - in Glasgow Saturday!
The First Havana/Glasgow Film Festival has started with a bang. The first film La Pericula de Ana, was reportedly a very funny launch, and Conducta - on last night, was an outstanding film - a review of which is below. 
Me dicen Cuba
 Tonight, the island's music takes centre stage with Me Dicen Cuba. The highlight, though, comes on Saturday, when the leading Cuban Film Director, Fernando Perez comes to the festival to talk about his film La Pared de las Palabras – this will be shown at 3.00pm, GFT. Later that day a discussion on Socialism Reinvented? will be accompanied by two well-known Glasgow films - In Cuba they're still Dancing, and Red Skirts on Clydeside. This last event is at Glasgow Uni's Gilmorehill Centre, See the festival website for details.
Conducta (Behaviour) – 2014 – *****  GFT
This UK premiere of Ernesto Daranas’ Conducta was a triumphant debut as part of an increasingly impressive first Film Festival. The film pulls no punches in its examination of the underbelly of the Cuban revolution. The beautifully filmed, crumbling buildings of Havana are symbolic of the crumbling of the society. But ultimately it is a film full of hope.
Conducta - Hope takes wing
 The film centres round the troubled Chala (superbly played by young Armando Valdes Freire), and the impact on him of his mother’s drug abuse, his father(?), Ignazio’s illegal dogfighting ring and his own run-ins with the police.  His only positive is his deep relationship with his (older) form teacher, Carmela (Alina Rodriguez). This is threatened by her championship of the troublesome kid, and his young ‘girlfriend’ Yeni (another great performance by Amaly Junco). Cue clashes with (younger) authority figures over Chala’s future.
But hope wins through – Chala’s real interest is flying pigeons, Yeni (and Carmela) break the link with the dogfights, and Carmela does not succumb to pressure to retire. Is the film a clash between the older ‘revolution’ and the new ‘commercialism’? If so, young teacher Marta’s move from replacement to support for Carmela is hopeful, as is Ignazio’s tacit acceptance of responsibility. The beauty of the filming too, indicates a deep love for the people and city, on both sides of the ubiquitous railroad tracks.

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