A blog from Chris Bartter, trade union writer and communications expert in Scotland,
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The Havana Glasgow Film Festival enters its final four days with the
arrival of Cuban film and video
director, Arturo Santana. Flying in from Havana
yesterday - thanks to sponsorship from Unite - to talk about his much-acclaimed
first feature film Bailando con Margot
(Dancing witb Margot) – Thursday 17, 20 15 in the GFT A ‘neo-noir’ mystery,
Bailando con Margot follows the femme fatale, Margot de Zarate and her
involvement (or not) in an art heist. Santana made his name (as most Cuban
directors do) directing music videos.
A review of some of the highlights so far is on the Culture
Matters blog and it also refers to the welcome support for the festival
from the Cuban ambassador to the UK, Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, who came to
see Amor Cronico – Cucu Diamantes love letter to Cuba.
Sheila, meet Aidan!
Otherhighlights still to come
include Where you’re meant to be- a great film following Arab Strap’s poet
Aidan Moffat crossing swords with determined doyenne of travelling singers,
Sheila Stewart as he tries to rewrite traditional Scottish folk tunes (Wednesday
16, 19,30 in the CCA – it will be followed by a Q&A with director Paul
Fegan.Cuba Libre – Thursday 17. 14.45 CCA - a historical drama
on the Spanish American War in Cuba follows Chris Dolan’s fascinating story of anarchist Ethel MacDonald, who broadcast from Republican Spain during the Civil
War. An Anarchist's Story is in the CCA Thursday 17, 12.50pm).
Back to Cuba we then can see Los
Bolos En Cuba – Friday 18. 19.45 CCA – a warm, nostalgic and irreverent
film exploring the times of the 'eternal' friendship of Cuba and the Soviet Union
On Friday morning also, there is an important masterclass by Festival
co-Director, and writer, Hugo Rivalta. He will be talking about cinema’s role
in the Cuban revolution. - 11.00 Friday 18 in the Glasgow School of Art (Reid
The final day focuses on Cuban animation (CCA 17.30 on Saturday 19), and
the success of the festival will be celebrated in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum,
from 12.30pm where Gordon Cree will be playing Cuban salsa on the huge organ,
and some recently discovered Cuban film archives, brought to Scotland for
restoration, will be shown.
This week sees the start of this
year’s Havana Glasgow Film Festival (HGFF), on 11 Nov, and guests have already
started to arrive from Cuba and other parts of the globe. On Tuesday the Cuban
screenwriter and HGFF co-director, Hugo Rivalta arrived from Havana. He
will be introducing two films in the 9-day festival, and also running a master
class at the GFT – Cuban Cinema’s place
in the Revolution – on Friday 18 Nov.
Hugo said, “It's a privilege to be
back for the second HGFF. I am very content, as I’ve just finished talking
to a group of writing students about my work process. These Glasgow
students make me feel very appreciated. I couldn't believe the programme
Eirene and Barbara have prepared, it's so interesting and huge.
“I am looking forward to talking more and meeting lots of
people and am especially pleased to welcome Arturo Santana, one of
the most prestigious directors of video clips in Cuba to talk
about his highly anticipated first feature film Bailando Con Margot. He arrives next Tuesday and I’m sure he’ll be
welcomed as I was.”
Eirene Houston, the Festival
Director, is especially pleased that we will be welcoming the Cuban ambassador
– Her Excellency Teresita Vicente Sotolongo to the festival on Saturday (12). “
Her visit is a symbol of the support from the Cubans for this festival and I'm
very happy that she is coming with her husband and another friend, to take
part and enjoy our films.” Eirene says. “She’s coming in particular to see
Amor Cronico the popular 2012
road movie by actor and director Jorge Perrugoria (star of Fresa y Chocolate, and new director of
the Cine Pobre film festival).”
Other visitors include Anita Curbelo
from Cine Pobre and from closer to home – Director of Where you’re meant to be – Paul Fegan. He will talk about his film
featuring Aidan Moffat and folk legend Sheila Stewart. Alejandro Valera (from
Cuba but currently living in Glasgow) will tell us stories about the
making of Amor Cronico.
First Minister adds her support
And while she won’t be visiting
officially, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP has welcomed the festival’s
second year, She told the festival she was ‘sure it would bring even more
energy, colour and passion to Glasgow and its people.”
The Festival runs from the 11th-19th
November across a number of venues in the Glasgow School of Art, the Centre for
Contemporary Art and the Glasgow Film Theatre, finishing at Kelvingrove Art
In addition to the screenings above, other
noteworthy events are – a lecture on the role of parody and satire in Cuban
culture – from renowned Cuban specialist Dr Stephen Wilkinson. This will be
Friday 11 at the GFT starting sharp at 11.00am. The first film of the festival
will be La Rumba Me Llama that same evening at 7.30 in the GSA’s Vic café bar.
On Saturday an event on Local Cultures and Local Identities takes place in the GSA’s Reid
Building. Short films from TV Serrana – a community-based broadcaster from the
Cuban Sierra Maestre will be complemented with short films from Scotland and
followed by a panel discussion. The day will also feature a screening of Amor Cronico, (Everlasting Love). A
‘road’ movie with a difference!
On Sunday too, the day is given over to a
significant feature of Cuban film – Cine Pobre. Translating as ‘Low-Budget
Film’ this is film shot with no or minimal resources, and has its own festival
in Cuba. Eirene Houston was a juror this year, and has brought back the cream
of the crop! Also part of the day is a documentary of the life of Humberto
Solas, founder of Cine Pobre and a famous filmmaker. Also showing is El Tren de la Linea Norte (the Northern
Line Train) Marcelo Martin’s journey from Moron to Punta Alegre through an area
of ‘forgotten Cuba’. The day finishes with a screening of the American film
that won the overall Cine Pobre festival, Tangerine.
A day off on Monday, allows us to gird our loins
for the rest of the festival, and Tuesday brings
Hector Medina in VIVA
Paddy Breathnac’s Viva, an Irish film made in Cuba about Havana’s
underground drag scene. What, trans sex workers and drag queens in a Cuban Film
Festival? Who knew?
That’s it for part one, tune back here at the
beginning of next week for a summary of what’s to come at the end of the week,
including the visit of Arturo Santana.
In addition to support from partner
Glasgow School of Art, sponsorship from Unite, and other TUs, the Festival
is supported by the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), and Glasgow City Council. The
Usheru Cinema app is also providing ticket sales support.