Blessed be Havana

His first novel “Mantilla?: After La Palma” caused furor and it was literally razed from the book stores, in such a way that Extramuros editions already presented a second edition, which can be found nowhere neither.

Antonio Arroyo gave to us “Blessed Havana” (Cuban editions, Artex), which fits perfectly with the next 500 anniversary of our metropolis.

This author, actor, theater director and TV presenter continued his researches that took him to direct the documental dedicated to the Bishop of Espada, in order to go deeper even more in the Cuban capital of the XIX Century, where for this novel, he quote the mentioned Bishop and the doctor Tomás Romay, both in parallel stories with people from Havana at the present time, showing their dreams and difficulties.

Tony Arroyo, as we his friends call him, is remembered due to his participation in films such as “El Brigadista” (1977) and “Border Guards” (1988), to which he was called by Octavio Cortázar, the director.

The discovery of a gold chain, with a crucifix set in sapphires and diamonds, hidden for more than one hundred years, in Guanabacoa and auctioned in New York, unties the conflict of this appetizing presentation of the successful writer.

Lola Alegría, Alejandro, Sandra, Marina y Leonid are from the capital’s everydayness, giving life to the stories that happens while we read (with avidity I ensure it you) this volume.
Good reading!

  • Published in Culture

40th Havana Film Festival Came to An End

The 40th Havana International Film Festival concluded on Sunday with the screening in this capital of several of the award-winning films.

The present edition, held from December 6 to 16, exhibited in Cuba 373 films from 40 countries and awarded a Coral of Honor to Mexican producer Bertha Navarro and a Special Coral to the Sundance Institute of the United States.

The list of personalities of the seventh art in Havana included Serbian director Emir Kusturica; North Americans Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Moore, Matt Dillon, Spanish Iciar Bollain and Scot Paul Laverty.

Moore showed in Cuba his new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, in which he accuses the president of his country, Donald Trump, of destroying the American dream.

While Dillon presented the most current creation of Danish director Lars von Trier, The House That Jack Built, about a serial killer embodied by the actor himself.

Argentinean director Tristan Bauer brought here an urgent work: El camino de Santiago. Desaparición y muerte de Santiago Maldonado (The Way of Santiago. Disappearance and death of Santiago Maldonado), a documentary that moved the jury of the 40th Havana Film Festival; because it granted the documentary a Special award.

This year 20 feature films, 18 raw operas, 25 documentaries, 22 shorts and medium-length films, 26 animated films, 19 unpublished scripts, 24 posters and seven films in post-production competed for the Coral Prize.

Some of the winning pieces were Pájaros de verano (Summer Birds), by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego (Colombia, Mexico, Denmark, France), opera prima Retablo (Peru, Germany and Norway), by Alvaro Delgado and Aparicio L; and Inocencia (Innocence), by Alejandro Gil (Cuba).

The latter, won the Audience Award of the 40th edition, and among the distinguished films also stood out Joel, by Argentine director Carlos Sorin (Script Coral Award), and La noche de 12 años (A Twelve-Year Night), by Uruguayan Alvaro Brechner (Sound and Edition Coral Awards).

Both films obtained most of the Festival's Collateral Awards and, in addition, La noche de 12 años won the Glauber Rocha Prize awarded by Latin American News Agency Prensa Latina and the awards granted by Casa de las Américas and Radio Habana Cuba, the latter with the name of Roque Dalton.

Within the 40th edition of the event, several seminars took place, including one about its four decades of history, to reflect on the future of Latin American cinema, and another dedicated to outstanding Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1928-1996), aka Titon.

Likewise, the event paid tribute to one of its founders, Argentinean filmmaker Fernando Birri, who died in December 2017.

The section of Galas exhibited feature films already awarded at several international events such as Yuli, of Bollain, and Roma (Rome), by Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, the winner this year of the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival with this piece.

The cinemas were crowded every day, the public was not intimidated by the inclemency of the weather, nor by the long queues, and still, some were not able to enter certain sessions, due to the saturation of the room; normal, rather traditional scenes of this festival.

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Havana will be re-launched as a renewed tourist destination

The 500th anniversary of Havana will be the opportunity to relaunch the capital as a renewed and updated tourist destination, said Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.

Marrero said in recent statements to the weekly magazine Opciones that they take advantage of major events to update the tourism product and make new investments that contribute to development, and the half a millennium of the town of San Cristobal is no exception.

He said that in the country are averaged about five thousand new rooms for this year, and in the case of the capital, from this time until next year, must be put into operation 12 new accommodation facilities.

Marrero Cruz commented that most will be small and medium buildings, using houses with heritage values, such as Portales de Paseo and others with tourism prospects given to them by the Government.

Now we are going through a process of recovery and transformation to convert them into hotels of medium-high standard, and are promoted works in several locations in the Siboney neighborhood, Miramar, as well as the so-called Blue Vedado, in the Plaza de la Revolución.

The development program itself will also allow, before November 2019, the opening in Old Havana of the Prado y Malecón hotel, the Gran Hotel, and the Cueto.

He commented that in Havana there are more than 12 thousand rooms, but more than half of them have a three-star category, which is why the new investments are aimed precisely at incorporating a very competitive hotel plant such as the Kempinski Manzana and the Packard.

The change of image is one of the most important processes in cities that celebrate closed number anniversaries, in the case of the capital highlights, above all, the large investment that is made in the recovery of heritage, he said.

He said that in the extra-hotel network there are several facilities that in one way or another renew their product, an aspect in which the Palmares Group works.

It is planned to repair units such as La Cecilia, El Floridita, La Bodeguita del Medio, El Gato Tuerto and La Ferminia, a very nice restaurant but with a not very competitive product, he said.

The restaurant Don Cangrejo will be transformed into a club of high level, with gastronomic service of high category, it has a magnificent swimming pool next to the sea, however today it is limited to some nocturnal activities and to the gastronomy, he explained.

He added that the technically closed La Giraldilla recreational centre will become a family, recreation and leisure product.

For the 500th anniversary of the city, the Ministry also proposed to rehabilitate the old discotheque of the Comodoro Hotel, which has been closed for many years.

Hacienda Guanabito, located in Guanabo, will have a total restoration that will include peasant houses and a stable that will allow customers to enjoy a Creole atmosphere.

He announced that there is a plan to transform tourist shops such as Primera and B, in the Vedado, and the Palacio de Artesanía, in the Historic Center.

In the case of the Marina Hemingway will continue the work, while in the Marina Tarará there is an extensive program that will promote the change of image and products, he said.

He added that the Tourism Plan for Havana's anniversary has around 40 actions of broad magnitude and interaction, either in the construction of facilities or in total transformations.

More than 50 percent of the visitors that arrive to the Island do so through the capital; practically Havana defines the image of tourism in Cuba, commented the Minister of Tourism.

  • Published in Cuba

Greek Cinema Exhibition to Be Presented in Havana

Havana, Sep 19 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Cinemateca will exhibit from September 19 to 23 a Greek film exhibition to promote here some of the best works of that filmography, according to its organizers.

The Greek ambassador to Cuba, Stella Bezirtzoglou, the main promoter of the project, has assured that in her country the cinema of the island has authentic fans and Cuban audiovisuals are appreciated every year in different cities.

However, Greek films have not been presented in Cuba for years, said the official who, in order to change that reality, gathered the present exhibition with seven fiction feature films, a documentary and a short film.

The cycle will be inaugurated tomorrow with the screening in Cinema 23 and 12 of the film The Greek (2007), by director Yannis Smaragdis, a biographical approach to the life of the painter whose very personal style had a profound impact on people at the end of the Renaissance.

The work is the most expensive in the history of Greek cinema and used Vangelis' musical score.

The exhibition will also show the film that, according to specialists, represents the birth of a Golden Age of Greek cinema, Stella (1955), by Mihalis Kakogiannis, and the director Theo Angelopoulos Eternity and a Day, winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.

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Fidel Castro's Legacy Evoked in the Cuban Capital

The Cuban capital recalls the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, in a special edition of the magazine Habanahoy 499, on the 92nd anniversary of his birth and the 500th anniversary of the foundation of this city.

Published by Prensa Latina, the publication of the Provincial Assembly of the People's Power of Havana contains the imprint of the eminent thinker and his ties with his people.

Various moments in Fidel Castro's life (1926-2016), his support for the flowering of ballet and cinema on the Caribbean island, as well as his determination to develop education, health, science and sport are present in the magazine.

The publication also recognizes the permanent and indissoluble relationship of the statesman with the people, his brilliant oratory and unlimited dedication to the cause of the Revolution.

Through suggestive photographs, the text also contemplates the revolutionary's links with Havana, the city which next year will celebrate the 500th anniversary of its foundation.

In some articles, Habanahoy 499 contains testimonies of personalities about the figure of Fidel Castro, among them the prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso and photographer Liborio Noval, winner of the National Journalism Award Jose Marti.

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Cuban president visits sites of social and economic importance in Havana

President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez visited sites of social and economic importance in Havana, including the Food Processing Industry Research Institute and the José Martí Metallurgical Enterprise.

Founded in 1977 with the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and cooperation agencies from other countries, the Food Processing Industry Research Institute is devoted to the processing of soy yogurt, fine handmade chocolates, fortified foods, liquid flavors as well as powder flavors, and nutritional supplements for vulnerable population groups, among them children, the elderly and people with specific dietary needs.

The Cuban leader exchanged with authorities and workers at the Institute, highlighting the need to continue improving efficiency and expanding production toward substituting food imports.

The Cuban president also visited the José Martí Metallurgical Enterprise, known as Antillana de Acero, which has received a major investment to refurbish it.   Díaz-Canel described Antillana de Acero as one of the country’s most important industrial facilities, devoted mainly to the production of steel plates and stainless steel barbs. 

During an exchange with workers and executives there, the Cuban president showed particular interest in workers' salaries, working hours and rest periods, food and transportation services. 

Díaz-Canel said the ongoing refurbishing process at Antillana de Acero will have a significant, positive impact on the country's economy. He said it must translate into higher efficiency and salaries, as well as better working conditions.

Edited by Pavel Jacomino
  • Published in Cuba

Omara Portuondo Sings to Havana

Havana, Jul 7 (Prensa Latina) The diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portuondo, will give a concert today on Salud Street to celebrate Havana's 500th anniversary.

The main course of the concert will be her new album 'Omara Siempre' (Omara Always), recorded by Cuba's EGREM company and released in May.

Portuondo, also known as the Bride of Feeling, will show her musical vitality, as even at the age of 87, she continues to sing great melodies and defend the roots of Cuban music.

The album contains 11 tracks by several Cuban and foreign composers, and compiles a well-known repertoire consisting of songs like 'Y Tal Vez' (Perhaps), by Juan Formell; 'Sabanas Blancas' (White Sheets), by Gerardo Alfonso; and 'Yo Vengo a Ofrecer Mi Corazon' (I Come to Offer my Heart), by the Argentinean musician Fito Paez.

Instrumentalists, soloists and well-known groups, such as the rumba band Osain del Monte, pianist Orlando Vistel, Argentinean musician Rodrigo Sosa and singer Beatriz Marquez, who accompanies her in one of the songs, will join Portuondo.

'Omara Siempre' was produced and arranged by Alain Perez, who was proud of collaborating with the artist and learning from her experience that always surprises for her versatility when singing different genres.

Winner of the National Music Award in 2006, Portuondo also won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Tropical Album in 2009 for 'Gracias' (Thanks).

  • Published in Culture

JetBlue adds direct flights from Boston to Cuba

JetBlue is adding direct service from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Cuba.

Starting Nov. 10, 2018, JetBlue will offer direct service between Logan and Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.

JetBlue will be the only airline offer nonstop service between New England and Cuba.

JetBlue currently offers service to Cuba from New York, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

  • Published in Cuba
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