Essential Cinema, CineSur: Films of Latin America thru July 31, 2012

SUITE HABANA (HAVANA SUITE)

Nearly 40 years after the production of SOY CUBA, a Cuban filmmaker brings us a new portrait of his beloved city, Havana. Focusing on ten people, Fernando Pérez creates a rich mosaic composed of bits and pieces of their lives in the course of only one day, from sunrise until late at night. His portraits of these people, nearly all of whom are economically poor, make us feel that we know them or would like to. These are no talking heads telling us about their lives. Their expressive faces and bodies in motion reveal even more than words might. A 20-year-old man, now the sole breadwinner of his family, helps rebuild his family home in the daytime but performs at night as a dancer in the world-famous Ballet Nacional de Cuba. A ten-year-old mentally handicapped boy is full of life, nurtured by loving grandparents and a father, who left his job as an architect to work in construction and spend more time with his son. A good-looking young man works in a hospital laundry by day and performs in drag by night, assisted in his entertainment aspirations by a sister or friend, who is a supervisor in a perfume factory. A middle-aged man works hard on a railroad maintenance gang and then plays his saxophone in church at night. A doctor takes care of the health of food handlers and then moonlights as a clown while harboring dreams of being an actor. Another middle-aged man leaves for Miami after falling in love with a Cuban-American. A cobbler transforms himself into “El Elegante” by donning a different suit every night to go dancing at a huge outdoor ballroom. A retired textile worker supplements her pension by selling roasted peanuts in parks and street corners. The film is so evocative and compelling that you might want to know what happens to these ten people the next day and the day after that. Winner of 12 awards at the 2003 Havana Film Festival and honored in various other festivals.

For tickets, visit https://www.austinfilm.org/essential-cinema/film-suite-habana-havana-suite and additional information http://www.cinelasamericas.org/special-events

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Mexico and Argentina became the dominant powerhouses of the Spanish-language film industries in Latin America in the 1940s, with each having a “Golden Age” of quality films right on into the 1950s. In the 1960s Cuba provided an alternative voice of revolutionary content and style in cinema, which began to influence young filmmakers in other countries of the Western Hemisphere. Repulsed by the infamous Massacre of Tlatelolco in 1968, young Mexican filmmakers, such as Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, Arturo Ripstein, Felipe Cazals, and others, began their own cinematic revolution in story-telling styles and exploration of controversial themes. With the rise of digital technology and greater artistic freedom in the 21st century, the Latin American cinema has  once more exploded with new talents in practically every country of the hemisphere. We will be showing some films which have played during Austin’s Cine Las Americas Film Festival, some which have not been seen here for a while, and some brand new films never seen in Austin. – Chale Nafus

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