Havana Glasgow Film Festival set to celebrate female filmmaking


Now in its fourth year, festival commemorates the birth-centenary of Scottish filmmaker Margaret Tait

THE HAVANA GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL will mark its fourth year this week with a celebration of female filmmaking from both Cuba and Scotland.

Intended to celebrate the links between the cities – which were officially twinned in 2002 – the Havana Glasgow Film Festival (HGFF) will run between 7 and 11 November, and this year notes the centenary of the birth of the Scottish filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait, for whom the Glasgow Film Festival annual award is named, and celebrates the work of the groundbreaking AfroCuban filmmaker Sara Gómez.

The revolutionary legacy of Gómez – who died tragically in 1974 at the age of only 31 – will be marked by the world premiere of new restorations of her short films, commissioned by the festival.

Meanwhile, on the day of Tait’s centenary, HGFF will be screening her early shorts and exploring her connections with Cuba, including her friendship with Fernando Birri, widely regarded as the father of Latin American cinema, about whom a new documentary – History of a Probable Angel – will also be screened.

These showcases will exemplify how this year’s festival will explore the role and influence of women in both Cuban and international cinema, which in the context of #MeToo has become an increasingly relevant point of discussion in the film industry and beyond.

HGFF’s organisers argue that Cuba has one of the most progressive cultures in Latin America regarding the promotion of female filmmakers, and hope to demonstrate this with their screening of 2018’s opening film, Marilyn Solaya’s award-winning El Vestido de Novia / His Wedding Dress, described as a reflection of the “recent wave of progressive reforms regarding the rights of the LGBTQ community, including a free and formalized process for sex changes and the legalisation of gay marriage”. The film’s star, Laura de la Uz, will be in attendance for a Q&A.

Additionally, this year’s festival will feature screenings of La Pared de las Palabras / Wall of Words and Hello Hemingway, both directed by Fernando Pérez, who is widely considered to be Cuba’s greatest living filmmaker.

Another of Cuba’s greatest filmmakers, Humberto Solas, will be commemorated with a 50th anniversary screening of Lucía, his influential exploration of the role of women in Cuban society through the lives of three women named Lucía living at different points in Cuba’s history, now restored by Martin Scorsese and the World Cinema Foundation.

HGFF will also feature a full programme focusing on the work of young Cuba filmmakers, including Patricia Ramos’s El Techo / The Roof, as well as workshops, special school screenings, social occasions and music and dance events.

Festival director Eirene Houston commented: “It always brings me such joy to introduce our specially selected Cuban films to the people of Glasgow, and this year is no exception. Now in its fourth year, the Havana Film Festival 2018 is continuing to provide these fresh perspectives in film.

“I’m particularly pleased this year to focus on women, in front and behind the camera, from Sara Gómez, Cuba’s first female director, popular auteurs from the last few years, to young and up-and-coming directors and actors. In addition, in this year of young people, we are delighted to be establishing connections between young people in Cuba and Scotland; to introduce them to filmmaking and connecting them with each other internationally.”

The HGFF was co-founded by Chris Bartter, the well-known trade union champion, freedom of information advocate and chair of the famous 7:84 theatre company, who sadly passed away in October last year.

Pictures courtesy of the Havana Glasgow Film Festival

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