This issue is dedicated to Cuban cinema in recognition of Havana’s growing influence in the film culture of the American hemisphere. This is highlighted each year in the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano to be held from December 4-14, 2014 in Havana. Described as the ultimate word in Latin American cinema, this annual get-together of critics, sages and filmmakers has been fundamental in showcasing recent Cuban classics to the world.
Cuban cinema has always been closer to the European art-house tradition than to the formula movies of Hollywood. The 1960s were the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos’s (ICAIC) Golden Decade under the leadership of Afredo Guevera. The giants behind the camera were Humberto Solás, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabío and Santiago Alvarez who, working under Guevara’s guidance, put cutting-edge Cuban cinema on the international map. Since then, Cuban cinema has passed the baton to a new, equally talented, stash of movie guerrillas including Fernando Pérez (Suite Habana), Juan Carlos Cremata (Viva Cuba) and more recently, Ernesto Daranas’ (Conducta).
This issue features retrospectives on the state of Cuban cinema and just what it means to the country, alongside interviews with Enrique Pineda Barnet and Juan Carlos Cremata, and a piece in memory of Humberto Solás. We preview this year’s Havana film festival; our pick of the top 20 Cuban movies of all time and a review of Conducta (this year’s smash hit). We have also profiled the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión in Antonio de los Baños through the eyes of photographer Nicolás Ordóñez in the brilliant series eXtras. Rounding out this issue is an article on Cine Pobre: a low budget hip festival which takes place in April each year.
Outside of the cinema, December is a beautiful time to visit Cuba. Long-sleeved shirts may be required but the sun still shines and the festive season is packed with both cultural and historic events from Cuba’s best jazz festival to the wonderful Parrandas de Remedios. Christmas in Cuba is low key, largely free from the mass collective consumerist binge elsewhere and arguably truer to the roots of familial solidarity mixed with the odd glass of rum or two. Enjoy!
December 2014 Highlights (Havana, unless stated)
- Dec 4-14, International Festival of New Latin American Cinema
- Dec 6-21, FIART
- Dec 17, Pilgrimage to Rincón for the feast day of San Lázaro
- Dec 17-21, Jazz Plaza
- Dec 24, Parrandas de Remedios, Charangas de Bejucal
- Jan 1, Anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution
Do check out our expanded Havana Guide, which is growing to accommodate the new bars, restaurants and casas particulares that continue to spring forth adding vitality and energy to Havana’s entertainment and hospitality scene.
Thanks to all of our contributors, sponsors, partners and readers. Do please keep providing us with your feedback, comments and suggestions. All enquiries should be directed to Sophia Beckman at CubaAbsolutely@gmail.com. All the best. Viva Cuba!