Iván Giroud: Every year the Festival is a new experience

“Cinema is the great passion of my life”, affirmed Iván Giroud, president of the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema that will be held in Havana from December 5-15.

Regarding to details of the 41st edition of the seventh art event, the official told Cuban National Television Newsreel that this time they reduced the number of films due to be screened at the so-called “Proyecto 23”, Acapulco movie theater and halls of Multicine Infanta.

He specified that compared with previous editions the number of films was reduced to 300 with a view to make a more adequate schedule for the exhibition circuit and running days of the event, which makes it possible to screen the most acclaimed films a larger number of times.

He commented that every year the festival is a new experience, in which passion and emotion prevail while looking for the films to be offered to the spectator. I will always have that passion for cinema, Giroud reiterated.

A total of 112 films will compete this time in such sections as fiction feature films (21), fiction short and medium films (19), feature debuts (18), documentary feature films (21), short and medium documentary films (10) and animation films (23). Likewise, 25 unpublished scripts and 30 posters will compete for the Corals.

In addition, there will be 660 screenings from 37 countries, led by Argentina and Brazil and 300 films in and out of competition.

This time the Festival is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) and outstanding documentary maker Santiago Álvarez on the centenary of his birth.

At a press conference held last November, Giroud said that it was necessary to reshape the programming a bit as regards the number of works. “We were more rigorous to bring the best and most updated films produced in Latin America in the last two years.
Nevertheless, we also kept space for films that are worth recalling”, he stated.

It should be noted that the Festival is a Latin American event, therefore, the most representative filmography was chosen from that prospect and taking into account the production of each nation, including ours”, he added.

At the 41st edition, two Honorary Coral Awards will be awarded, one to Cuban filmmaker Manuel Pérez Paredes, and another to Argentine film producer Lita Stantic.

Next December 5, at 6:00 pm, Havana’s Karl Marx theater will host the inauguration of the motion picture event, which announces a performance of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) to pay tribute to recently deceased prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, as well as the screening of Argentine film “La odisea de los Giles” (Heroic Losers), directed by Sebastián Borensztein and starred in by famous actor Ricardo Darín.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Kristen Stewart on the ‘Insane Gall’ of Directors as ‘Seberg’ Arrives in San Sebastian

On Friday, Kristen Stewart and Benedict Andrews’ political thriller “Seberg” plays at the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival, where it opens Perlak, a section dedicated to the Spanish premieres of major international films. The star and her director addressed the media prior to the screening in the festival’s first high-profile press conference, held at the seaside Kursaal congress center.

In the film, Stewart plays real life American actress Jean Seberg, who starred in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless.” Set against a turbulent political backdrop of late-1960s U.S.A., “Seberg” tells a fictionalized version of how the star was targeted by the FBI through an illegal surveillance program, Cointelpro, after voicing her support of the Black Panther Party and her romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.

Eventually, and under dubious circumstances, the actress took her own life.

“Seberg” has received mixed reviews since premiering at Venice last month, but there’s been near unanimous consensus that Stewart has given one of the most assured performances in her still-young career. She gives Andrews a lot of credit for that.

“He would just throw things at me,” she joked to a deathly quiet room, her monotone sense of humor lost on the largely Spanish-speaking audience listening to a translation through earpieces.

The relationship between director and actress is touched on in the film, which includes the story about Seberg being bullied and accidentally set on fire by director Otto Preminger. There was none of that on the set of this film however.

“You have to subject yourself to a person and circumstances and set of causes controlled by them,” she said, pointing out that as an actress, “it’s a risky business, you have to choose well.”

“But,” she went on, “It’s the only way that something truly singular, honest and worthwhile happens. At the end of the day I find the most dangerous, fulfilling and rewarding experiences come from giving yourself fully to the experience which is being controlled by the director.”

“For most of my grown-up life I’ve been a theater director and worked with actors in the laboratory of the rehearsal space,” Andrews said. “There you have to create a place where it’s safe to be dangerous and go to the limits of human behavior. As a filmmaker I want to get there with actors who will be brave and go to those places. But you must create a space where it’s safe to take risks.”

Of course, a political film raised political questions as well.

Reaffirming sentiments expressed at Venice, where the film premiered, and Toronto before, Stewart said that while she’s not about to climb on a soapbox, “I think it’s clear which side of the spectrum I tip onto. If you want to know what my causes are, they are so obvious.”

She did emphasize two issues she finds especially pressing however, “Gun control and climate change. I think we are all sitting here shaking in our boots on those subjects.”

For his part, Andrews explained a desire to show the harm caused by the Cointelpro program not just to those being surveilled, but to the humans on both sides. It was important to the director to show the adverse effect the program had on young FBI agent Jack Solomon as well, who eventually comes clean to Seberg about the surveillance.

“What I wanted to show with Jack was a young soldier in a dirty war who doesn’t realize it. I wanted to show the kind of persuasive and insidious power of an oppressive government machine.”

He emphasized that at the heart of the film, there is a story about, “The rubbing of these lives, how they touch… Jack looking at Jean and Jean being looked at by Jack.”

Stewart also fielded questions about her own ambitions behind the camera on the previously announced adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir “The Chronology of Water.”

“The movie I want to make is really confronting. I think (the memoir) is one of the most jarring, honest coming-of-age stories. More than that, it’s one of the most honest self-realized female stories I’ve ever read. It’s all true and devastatingly gorgeous,” she said.

Speaking about Andrews specifically but directors in general, she hinted at something she must see in herself when she admired, “You have to be somewhat insane to lead the charge of 200 people and lots of money and time. It’s a very presumptuous place, and the only way to do it is with insane gall.”

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Venice Film Festival 2019 winners: the good, the bad and the regional

There has been a mixed response to the Venice Film Festival's official awards, announced on Saturday, September 7. Joker, a daring take on the comic book villain starring Joaquin Phoenix, won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival with Roman Polanski controversially taking second prize with his film An Officer and a Spy.

It is the first superhero film ever to get this kind of arthouse kudos, and could now be on its way to Oscar glory. The last two Venice Golden Lion winners, Roma and The Shape of Water, have gone on to lift the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker', the film took home the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion award. Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker', the film took home the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion award. Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures

US director Todd Phillips, best known (up to now) for the slapstick comedy Very Bad Trip, paid tribute to Phoenix's intense performance, saying he was "the fiercest, bravest and most open-minded lion that I know".

"Thank you for trusting me with your insane talents," he said.

The movie, which The Guardian had described as "one of the boldest Hollywood productions for some time", has already sparked a heated debate.

Within hours of the Joker premiere, some warned that Phoenix's full-throttle portrait of a needy, embittered clown who lives with his mother could empower incels (or involuntary celibates), the angry, misogynist young men who have been blamed for so much far-right and white supremacist violence.

Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson worried that it was "exhilarating in the most prurient of ways, a snuff film about the death of order, about the rot of a governing ethos".

He feared that it "may be irresponsible propaganda for the very men it pathologises".

But most critics disagreed, with Variety's Owen Gleiberman saying Phoenix has remade Batman's arch-enemy as a "method psycho, a troublemaker so intense in his cuckoo hostility that even as you're gawking at his violence, you still feel his pain".

Polanski's controversial win

But almost as many headlines are likely to be made by Polanski's win. There were audible gasps when the French-Polish director, a pariah in Hollywood after his rape conviction, was handed the Grand Prix second prize for his Dreyfus Affair drama, An Officer and a Spy.

Having spent most of his life as a fugitive from American justice, Polanski was accused of drawing "obscene" parallels between himself and the persecuted French-Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was the victim of anti-semitism and a miscarriage of justice around the turn of the 20th century.

Polanski, 86, has been shunned by the big studios for decades after he was convicted of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.

His inclusion in the main Venice competition, which included only two female directors, sparked fury.

The 76th Venice Film Festival - Awards Ceremony - Venice, Italy, September 7, 2019 - Emmanuelle Seigner poses with the Silver Lion award - Grand Jury Prize. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
French actress Emmanuelle Seigner poses with the Silver Lion award on behalf of her husband, Roman Polanski, at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. Reuters

The French-Polish filmmaker did not show up at the festival, leaving his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who also appears in the film, to pick up his prize to muted applause and a few isolated boos.

She later told reporters that her husband was "very happy" with his win, saying the "film was very important to him".

The head of the Venice jury, Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel, had boycotted a gala dinner for Polanski, only to be forced to clarify that she was not prejudiced against his film.

Regional success at Venice Film Festival

Although Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour's The Perfect Candidate did not walk away with a Golden Lion, it was a successful year for regional filmmakers and actors at the festival.

French Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila holds the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor he received for the film "Un Fils" (Bik Eneich, A Son) during the awards ceremony of the 76th Venice Film Festival on September 7, 2019 at Venice Lido. / AFP / Alberto PIZZOLI
Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila holds the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor for his role in 'A Son' at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. AFP

Tunisian actor, Sami Bouajila, won the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor for his role in A Son. The Orizzonti Jury is a second jury at the film festival, which is run as a parallel to the competition for the Golden Lion. This year's jury was chaired by Susanna Nicchiarelli and comprised of Eva Sangiorgi, Alvaro Brechner, Mark Adams, and Rachid Bouchareb.

Away from the official festival prizes, there are also awards handed out at the Venice Critics’ Week.

Lebanese filmmaker Ahmad Ghossein's All This Victory won three critics' awards, one from the jury, another from the public and a final one for its technical contribution.

Scale director Shahad Ameen. Image Nation Abu Dhabi 
'Scale' director Shahad Ameen on set. Image Nation Abu Dhabi

Second place, the Verona Film Club Award, went to Scales by Saudi Arabian director Shahad Ameen. Ameen's feminist fable tells the story of a young woman, Hayat, through modern interpretations of Arabic folklore.

According to Variety, "The Verona prize goes to the film deemed the most innovative in the section by a jury of young film buffs who belong to one of Italy’s oldest arthouse cinema organisations."

A political year at the Italian film festival

In a year fraught with controversy over sexual politics, festival director Alberto Barbera was also accused of being "tone deaf" for his inclusion of a Black Lives Matter drama by the American Nate Parker, who was embroiled in a rape trail while at university, as well as the director's cut of Gasper Noe's 2002 rape shocker Irreversible.

Politics also dominated the awards ceremony with the best actor and actress winners, Italy's Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden) and France's Ariane Ascaride (Gloria Mundi) dedicating their awards to the migrants who "rest forever at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea".

Both films contained references to people fleeing poverty and persecution.

(FromL) Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki, British musician, singer and actor Mick Jagger and Canadian actor Donald Sutherland arrive by taxi boat at the pier of the Palazzo del Casino to attend a photocall for the film "The Burnt Orange Heresy" presented out of competition on September 7, 2019 during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido. / AFP / Alberto PIZZOLI
'The Burnt Orange Heresy' cast members, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland arrive for a photocall during the 2019 Venice Film Festival. AFP

Donald Sutherland, the star of the festival's closing film, The Burnt Orange Heresy, had earlier appealed to reporters to support the migrants' cause.

His co-star, Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, made a rare foray into politics to attack US President Donald Trump for his rudeness, lies and tearing up environmental controls in the US.

He also bewailed "the polarisation and incivility in public life" in his native Britain, pointing the finger at its rookie prime minister Boris Johnson.

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Alfred Hitchcock and his irreverent words

What do you think if we pry again about cinema of yesterday? Of course you think it is a good idea!

Today we bring some words said by the so-called “Magician of suspense” during the decade of the 50th of the last century.

During the San Sebastian Festival the Master gave free reins to his demons revealing some “secrets” of his profession.

He said things as “I kill with humor, I am diplomatic and I have good memory”. The press which followed him took notes without stopping and at that moment the producer commented: “My best film is “The shadow of doubt”, although I have to tell that I am satisfied with none of my works till now”.

He also said: “When I begin to record all the problems are already solved. Before the cameras star working I have delayed at least 6 months in the preparation of the film. I myself draw in paper each scene, in this way the cameraman has the exact idea of situations and distances”.

Alfred Hitchcock and his irreverent words

About suspense gender, which has distinguished him as it is known, he commented: To get it I proceed in an absolutely opposite manner to the one that it is always get used to. I care, before, about the details that will provoke that sensation of curiosity or surprise in the audience. Later I apply each detail to the character and in accordance with the reaction I continue, always concerned about that his attitude seems natural”.

About the terrifying censure Alfred Hitchcock did not have obstacles in saying: “I have never had difficulties due to the censure. Any conflict or situation can be shown in the cinema, if it is always managed with good taste. When I gave the script of “Vertigo” it was given back to me with 5 pages of objections and I paid attention to none of them”.


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“The Man of Maisinicú" turns 45 years

With a photographic exhibition that contains the preparations, the shooting and scenes of the Cuban movie “The man of Maisinicú”, the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry (ICAIC) pay tribute to the now anthological feature film directed by Manuel Pérez Paredes.

The wide lobby of the Chaplin room serves as a base to this exhibition which opened its doors since August 15th.

For a daughter it results hugely emotive to direct a documental in honor of her father. That is the case of “Sergio Corrieri, beyond of Maisinicú”, which was made by Luisa Marisy, evoking the figure of the respected actor Sergio Corrieri, releasing little-known facets of his life and covering trajectories like interpreter, poet, functionary and founder of the Escambray Theater Group.

Besides of play the leading role in “The Man of Maisinicú”, embodying Alberto Delgado, who managed to infiltrate himself into the counterrevolutionary bands that use to devastate the Escambray zone, and he leaded another indispensable movie of ours: “Memories of Underdevelopment” (1968), directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

The documental collects, by means of chapters, the testimonies of many of his friends, families and colleagues, supported in texts of his poems.
“Cuba 58”, “I am Cuba”, “Uprooting”, “As the life itself, “The absence” and “Black River”, they are among the movies where Corrieri participated.

In 1975 he embodied the Cuban the young anti-imperialist fighter Julio Antonio Mella, under the baton of Enrique Pineda Barnet. This was the first Cuban color film revealed and printed in our country.

The curatorship and also the museography of the exhibition were carried out by the specialist Jorge Frómeta.

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Shark Movie Hoards U.S. Blockbuster

Shark thriller The Meg, directed by Jon Turteltaub, is today topping the box office in the United States, where it surpassed 44.5 million dollars in its opening weekend.

The film, a U.S.-China co-production, also raised more than 141 million dollars in its international debut, above expectations, according to the production companies.

Starring British actor Jason Statham, the film is based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by American writer Steve Alten, and tells the story of scientists who travel in a submersible and try to prevent a giant shark believed to be extinct from causing destruction.

The cast of The Meg is completed by actors Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao and Cliff Curtis.

According to official counts in second place is the sixth issue of Mission Impossible: Fallout, starring Tom Cruise, followed by the comedy BlacKkKlansman by director Spike Lee.

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Gibara International Film Festival Links Several Arts in Cuba (+Photos)

Gibara, Cuba, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) The president of the Gibara International Film Festival (FIC Gibara), Jorge Perugorria, reiterated his commitment to the continuity of Humberto Solas' work by inaugurating the event that interweaves various arts today.

Gibara or The White Crab Village, as it is also known, is located on the northeast coast of the island, 764 kilometers from Havana.

During the first gala, held at the local Jiba cinema, the Lucia de Honor Awards were given to Cuban actors Mirta Ibarra and Salvador Wood, and to filmmaker Enrique Pineda Barnet, for their life-long work.

The companies Acosta Danza and Codanza enriched with their choreographies the opening ceremony of the event, where tribute was also paid to the founder of the event, who passed away, with the screening of the documentary Humberto Solas: virtuosity and excellence, by the director Manuel Jorge.

Dedicated to childhood and adolescence, this edition features exhibitions by UNICEF, the Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) and community actions by the Latin American and Caribbean Platform for the Audiovisual Universe of Children and Adolescents (UNIAL).

Projections of the classic Memoirs of Underdevelopment and Lucia by Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Humberto Solas, respectively, and performances by Benicio del Toro of Terry Gilliam's films Fear and Disgust in Las Vegas, and The Shape of Water, which won four Oscars, are among the most eagerly awaited.

Other proposals for the festival include a concert in homage to the Argentine director Eliseo Subiela, with the soundtrack of his film The Dark Side of the Heart; talks with the awardees of the 2018 Lucia of Honour; panels on gender and audiovisuals in childhood and adolescence; and the exhibition Retrospective, by the plastic artist Cosme Proenza.

The House of Culture of Gibara has already hosted a panel entitled S.O.S. Heritage: Resilience and Integrity and the opening of the exhibition entitled Nocturnal: Movie Posters.

One of the best theatre productions in the country at the moment came here from Osvaldo Doimeadios, who directed the actresses Venice Feria and Andrea Doimeadios, the latest winner of the Aquelarre 2017 Screenplay Award for this work.

The screening of the films Sergio & Serguei, co-produced by Spain, Cuba and the United States by Ernesto Daranas, and 25 hours, a US-Cuba co-production by Carlos Barba, are also among the proposals for the upcoming days of Jiba cinema.

The audience is also waiting for the concerts of Cuban singer-songwriters Polito Ibañez, Raul Paz and David Torrenz, in the Plaza da Silva, where they will alternate with Pancho Cespedes and Sintesis.

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Gibara International Film Festival Begins in Cuba

Havana, Jul 1 (Prensa Latina) A concert by Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez will open today the 14th Gibara International Film Festival, which will be held until July 7 in that city in the eastern province of Holguin.

The performance of the Nueva Trova Movement's founder, together with Noel Nicola and Pablo Milanes, will take place at the Plaza Da Silva of that town.

More than 40 films will compete in the event, which on this occasion is dedicated to children and adolescents.

The selection committee chose in this edition 25 works of fiction between long and short films, 16 documentaries and three animations, with a greater presence of movies coming from Europe and Latin America.

According to the President of the Festival, actor Jorge Perugorria, the proposals stand out for their variety and quality.

The rest of the program of the event is completed by theoretical spaces, conferences, concerts and exhibitions.

There will be also a special presentation of the film 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', a 20-year-old classic starred by Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro and Johnny Depp.

Other guests at the festival will be Mexican actor and director Demian Bichir, Spanish filmmaker Felix Viscarret, and Cuban actress Ana de Armas.

During the event, the Lucia de Honor award will be granted to three major Cuban film artists: filmmaker Enrique Pineda Barnet, and the actors Mirtha Ibarra and Salvador Wood.

In addition, a tribute will be paid to the late filmmaker Humberto Solas, festival manager.

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