The Havana Glasgow Film Festival is the annual celebration of Cuban cinema and cultural heritage. This year, a spotlight has been shone on women in Cuba’s film industry, including a Sara Goméz Retrospective and other topical events and workshops.
The Women in Film screening was a selection of short films, showcasing the work of contemporary women directors in Cuba. The programme was overall excellent – moving from sermon-like meditations on capitalism, to a documentary on women in the Cuban film industry, to textured explorations of family legacies as with El Monte by Claudia Cleremi.
El Monte (The Woodlands) follows José Manuel as he explores the jungle with his young grandaughter, Malena, and shares with her the beautiful intricacies in nature, underpinning the relationship between plants and people. José muses over Malena’s future, confident in her intelligence and strength, and hopeful that she will inherit his own deep care for nature. Shot on grainy analogue, the rich colours of the Cuban jungle shine through as well as the depth of José and Malena’s skin under the tropical heat.
Great Muy Bien by Sheyla Pool Pástor is an endearing look at the comical process of language learning as an adult. Based in an English-language class, the film follows several of its participants in their own every day lives, as they try to learn English. With the possibilities for Cubans broadening, each of them sees freedom and opportunity in learning English. Managing to stray from possible narrative traps, Great Muy Bien shines a compassionate, realistic lens on the implications of learning English.
With an ethos that is grounded in inter-cultural relationships, the Havana Glasgow Film Festival is a celebration of local identities, dedicated to showcasing Cuban cinema in a city where the opportunity to do so is often scarce.
For more information about the Havana Glasgow Film Festival, see here.
[Image credit: www.hgfilmfest.com/international-school-screening]