Havana Film Festival Inaugurated

Singer Omara Portuondo and pianist Chucho Valdés, two symbols of Cuban culture, were the stars of the inaugural gala (December 3) of the 31st International Festival of New Latin American Cinema [also see Havana’s International Festival of New Latin American Cinema]. Both Grammy winners this year, they came together to perform two emblematic national songs (and two of my favorites): “Veinte años” by María Teresa Vera, and “Dos gardenias” by Isolina Carrillo.

On piano, Chucho Valdés first offered his version of “Bésame mucho.” Following a standing ovation from a packed house at the Karl Marx Theater – with a capacity of 5,000 – the festival’s welcome speech was given by its president, Alfredo Guevara. “Young people are the spirit of the festival and it is they who lead me in this opening,” said Guevara from the presidential box, where he was accompanied by, among others, Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban parliament; Abel Prieto, minister of culture, and Roberto Fernández Retamar, president of the Casa de las Américas. Alfredo Guevara also commented that the main task of the festival is to “open doors and build bridges” and affirmed to guests that, in Cuba, “you will be received with open arms, also open to the world.”

For full article, see http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2009/diciembre/juev4/Film-Festiva.html

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