Sunday, 1 November 2015

Political, cultural and lifestyle links celebrated in Glasgow/Havana film festival.

Many people over the years have commented on the parallels between the cities of Glasgow and Havana. The enthusiasm for dance, music and film that envelopes both cities has been often referred to, and no doubt led in part to the historic twinning of the two cities 13 years ago this month. Tangible evidence of the benefits of that twinning are on screen in Glasgow this week, as the first Glasgow/Havana Film Festival opens.
The festival, brainchild of the Cubaphile screenwriter and director, Eirene Houston, features at least three (count ‘em) UK premieres of Cuban films, Q&As with well-known Cuban directors – including Fernando Perez whose La Pared de las Palabras premieres at the GFT on 7 Nov, and Alejandro Valera who recently moved to live in Glasgow. His Boccaccerias Habaneras premieres on 8 Nov at Gilmorehill. It also features Houston’s own 2012 film Day of the Flowers.
Eirene Houston. Pic-Martin Shields
 Houston said at last night’s opening, that she had been ‘in love with Cuba, since 1997. The people are so similar.’ She herself worked at the film school in Havana and has built up many film and TV contacts which became key to the creation of the festival.
The political links between the two cities are also covered by a film and discussion night on Saturday 7, at Gilmorehill, Glasgow University. Glasgow TUC Chair and UNISON official, Jennifer McCarey chairs a discussion on Socialism Reinvented, and two seminal Glasgow-based TV productions are given a welcome airing – Barbara Orton’s 1993 feature on Rolls Royce shop steward, Labour councillor and dance enthusiast, Agnes McLean – In Cuba they’re still Dancing is followed by Red Skirts on Clydeside, the 1984 programme that started the reassessment of the role of Glasgow’s women in red Clydeside.
Me Dicen Cuba - Alexander Abreu
Other films that promise much include, Me Dicen Cuba (6 Nov, Gilmorehill) – the story of Cuba’s greatest musicians coming together to record the title song of a documentary in support of the Cuban 5; Conducta – the UK premiere of the most universally successful Cuban film since Strawberry and Chocolate (5 Nov, GFT); and La Pericula de Ana (3 Nov, GFT) a film about a native Cuban actress and exploitative foreign filmmakers!
Couple all this with a celebration of Cuban food (in Stravaigin on 4 Nov), the launch of Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt’s book on the central role of Cuban Culture – To Defend the Revolution is to Defend Culture - (in the CCA on the 7 Nov) and to make the cities’ links complete – a revival of the Club Cubana nights, Glasgow used to see! (In Mango, Sauchiehall Street, 6 Nov). Full Programme is available from the festival website, here. You’ll find something you want to see, hear or eat/drink!

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