Havana Glasgow Film Festival - celebrating 60 years of Cuban cinema

Havana Glasgow Film Festival returns from 12 - 16 November for its fifth year, celebrating the twinned cities’ shared passion for cinema, music and politics with a vibrant programme of film, discussion, workshops and social events.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of ICIAC -  Cuba’s institute for cinema - whose main aim was to use film as a powerful communication tool to educate, mobilise and improve the lives of Cubans. To this end, this year’s programme will look at the history of ICIAC and ask “can film change the world?”

A central focus will be the work of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea - a pioneering Cuban filmmaker who was instrumental in earning Cuban cinema international recognition. His award-winning Strawberry and Chocolate was a groundbreaking film in liberalising Cuban attitudes towards homosexuality. Up To a Certain Point is a sharp satire on machismo in Cuban society and sixties black comedy Death of a Bureaucrat pokes fun at Communist bureaucracy. HGFF will pay tribute to the work of Titon, as he was affectionately known, with the screening of a documentary on his life.

“I've been waiting for the perfect moment to pay tribute to this icon, not just of Cuban cinema but of World Cinema,” says Eirene Houston, HGFF Director.

“The 60th anniversary of ICAIC and our 5th festival is that moment. And what could be better than having his widow, Mirtha Ibarra, joining HGFF as our special guest. This is something you do not want to miss.”

Mirtha Ibarra - star of two of the above films and one of the best loved actors in Cuba - will join us as our Guest of Honour, to present her own documentary on her husband.

A colourful 2019 poster for Havana Glasgow Film Festival

Jorge Perugorría, star of Strawberry and Chocolate, is another icon of Cuban cinema. Member of the Hollywood Hall of fame and one of Cuba’s most popular actors, he has also had a parallel career as a director, which the festival will focus on with screenings of two of his films - Fatima of Fraternity Park - which tells the moving story of a trans sex worker and For Sale - a dark comedy about contemporary Cuba, where people are forced to go to extreme measures to make a living.

The screenings are part of a wider programme - including a Cuban Feast in partnership with Küche, a family percussion workshop, a screenwriting talk with the Festival’s Cuban co-Director Hugo Rivalta and a salsa dance party.

“Community is at the heart of both the cities of Glasgow and Havana. Our festival creates a space where everybody feels welcome, and celebrates our shared humanistic values, and love of culture,” adds Houston.

Find out more at https://hgfilmfest.com/.

More about HGFF

Havana Glasgow Film Festival is the brainchild of Eirene Houston, a screenwriter and director, who has been travelling and working in Havana for almost 20 years. She will tell you there are a lot more similarities between the city and her home in Glasgow than you may first think.

Eirene and Glasgow City Council believe that the Havana Glasgow Film Festival is a great way to promote the twin city relationship and to give people from Glasgow and beyond the opportunity to celebrate and learn more about Cuban Cinema and see films which are not easily available.

The Havana Glasgow Film Festival exists to showcase Cuban cinema and culture within Havana’s twin city of Glasgow, Scotland. The festival celebrates local identities and cultures, highlighting the similarities between Havana and Glasgow and the thriving artistic talent that exists within both cities.

It provides a platform for Cuban and Scottish film-makers to share their work with international audiences through a week-long programme of screenings, workshops and panel discussions. A vibrant evening event schedule runs in tandem with the festival, complementing its film content with celebrations of Cuban music, dancing, food and rum. The Havana Glasgow Film Festival brings the rich, distant culture of Cuba onto Scotland’s doorstep and highlights the social, political and human similarities within these twinned cities.