One of the most prestigious film festivals in the Americas (and one of the oldest too, attended by the likes of Hollywood stars like Benicio del Toro, Matt Dillon, Ethan Hawke or Tim Robbins), the 41st edition of the Havana Film Festival is just days away from kicking off in the Cuban capital and the city’s cinemas are getting ready to welcome a flurry of cinema lovers from all over the world over 10 days of exclusive screenings celebrating Latin American and international cinema. If you’re in Havana this December, this is an event you definitely shouldn’t miss, and if you stay in a Havana casa particular in the Vedado area, you’ll be within footsteps of all the cinema action.
Havana Film Festival – an explosion of the freshest Latin American talent
Each yearly edition of the Havana Film Festival (its full original name in Spanish is “Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano”) brings an excellent opportunity to not only get acquainted with the peculiarities of contemporary Latin American talent in the filming arts, it’s also a great opportunity to rediscover Cuba through authentic 100% Cuban films showing the reality and daily life struggles of average Cubans
The festival’s theme this year is “Ojos que ven”, which translates as “Eyes that see”, a play on words from the Spanish proverb “ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente”, whose English equivalent would be the old adage: “out of sight, out of mind” (in this case, it would mean the opposite “in plain sight”…catch our drift?).
The 41st edition of the Havana Film Festival will take place from 5th to 15th December, during which times the city’s cinema listings will fill up to the brim with the chosen finalists battling out for a Coral (the Oscar equivalent of the Havana Film Festival, awarded to the winning films during a ceremony held at the end of the festival). This year there is a selection of 112 participating films in a variety of formats (21 fiction feature films, 19 short and medium-length films, 21 documentaries, 10 short and medium-length documentaries and 23 animated films. On top of that, there are 25 unpublished scripts and 30 posters also up for awards.
Watch this year’s Havana Film Festival official spot (hit the play button on the video box above) for an artistic introduction to the event and to get a better idea of the symbolism behind this year’s theme.
How to be part of the film festival action?
If planning a Cuba holiday in the first half of December 2019, all you need to do to be part of the cinema action invading the city’s theatres is either queue up in ticket offices or buy a cinema pass entitling to watch a limited number of films.
Buying a cinema pass
Cinema tickets on the occasion of the Havana film festival are incredibly cheap, especially for Cubans who can purchase one of the “passports” available for 10 CUP (moneda nacional) giving them access to 15 films.
As a tourist, foreigners can buy a special pass giving them unlimited access to all the films and all the participating cinemas for 45 CUC. This pass also entitles you to attend special festival events and press conferences and you also get a special edition festival catalogue.
Where to stay in Havana to make the most of the Havana Film Festival?
With all of the participating cinemas in this year’s edition of the Havana Film Festival being located in the centric Vedado neighbourhood, otherwise known as downtown or Havana’s more modern, hip, alternative and bohemian district; if you plan to stay in a Havana casa particular to catch the cinema action, you’d better stay the Vedado area, where we have great casas.
Choose from Casa Raquel to Casa Malecón Colonial, Penthouse Artedel or Villa Maria. And these are just a few to give you a taster of the different options depending on your budget, in Vedado we’ve got many more! To find them use the map to your right on our Havana casas page.
Where to catch the cinema action?
This year there are a total of 15 Havana cinemas taking part in the festival, and for your reference, we’ll proceed to list them all here:
- 23 y 12 | Address: Calle 23 entre 12 y 14, Vedado, La Habana
- Acapulco | Address: Ave. 26 entre 35 y 37, Nuevo Vedado, La Habana
- Centro Cultural Cinematográfico ICAIC «Fresa y Chocolate» | Address: Calle 23 entre 10 y 12, Vedado, La Habana
- Charles Chaplin | Address: Calle 23 entre 10 y 12, Vedado, La Habana
- Sala Charlot | Address: Calle 23 entre 10 y 12, Vedado, La Habana
- Sala Caracol de la UNEAC | Address: Calle 17 ,Esq. H, Vedado, La Habana
- Karl Marx | Address: Calle 1ra y 10, Playa, La Habana
- Centro Hispanoamericano de la Cultura | Address: Calle 17 Malecón, La Habana.
- La Rampa | Address: Calle 23 entre O y P, Vedado, La Habana
- Multicine Infanta | Address: Ave. Infanta entre Neptuno y San Miguel, Centro Habana, La Habana
- Pabellón Cuba | Address: 23 y N, Vedado, La Habana
- Riviera | Address: Calle 23 entre G y H, Vedado, La Habana
- Sala Walfredo Piñera | Address: Calle Tacón entre Chacón y Mercaderes, Habana Vieja, La Habana
- Yara | Address: Calle 23 ,Esq. L, Vedado, La Habana
- Fábrica de Arte | Address: Calle 26, La Habana
What films to see?
Only you will know what kind of films of the more than 100 chosen this year will pique your interest. The full list of selected films is here, published at the festival’s official festival and in Spanish, but you can translate the page with the help of Google to help you make your own selection.
Worried about the films all being in Spanish? Fear not, many will have English subtitles, just ask around for the timings of subtitled films or, if you buy a tourist cinema pass, you can get all the details in the printed programme included in the price.