Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Image = Havana Film Festival

Alina Rodriguez & Armando Valdes Freire
In the last few years I have noticed that it's more difficult to see foreign films in the US - even for a cinephile like me.  Maybe it has something to do with the shrinking of the world economy and limited distribution - I don't know.  Regardless - it is always a treat to see something outstanding from another country to remind me that the world of film extends far beyond Hollywood.  

On the red carpet at HFFNY
I recently attended the opening night of the 15th Havana Film Festival in New York.  In addition to a great deal of Cuban pride in the air and a lively party at the Copacabana, I got to see the US premiere of an exceptional film called Conducta (Behavior) from Cuba.  Conducta is a coming of age story of a troubled young boy who has a close relationship with his teacher, who fights for him when no one else will.  It is a bold commentary, with a phenomenal script, about  on challenging the status quo.  The performances are also extremely powerful - helmed by veteran actress Alina Rodriguez and newcomer Armando Valdes Freire.  Without seeing any other narrative films in the festival, I was not at all surprised when Conducta won HFFNY's awards for both Best Picture and Best Actress.  It is one of those rare films that makes an indelible impression by inspiring you to think, making you laugh and tugging at your heart strings in an unapologetic way.  Those - I believe - are the qualities of a great work of art.