The Environment through Cuban Film

Scientists and experts shared their environmental concerns with filmmakers at the Third Thematic Showcase of the 8th Humberto Solás Low-Budget Film Festival [Festival de Cine Pobre] in Havana, Cuba. The festival itself took place on October 13-16, 2010 in Gibara, in the Holguín province.

This year’s “Thematic Showcase,” which took place at the Historic Center of Old Havana, focused on the issues of environment and gender. Teresita Tellería, vice president of ProNaturaleza, a Cuban environmental organization, notes that low-budget cinema, “which is resource-poor but rich in ideas and enthusiasm, is a major ally in the defense of the environment and the search for solutions to environmental problems.”

The event began with the première of the documentary Niños del presente [Children of Today], a video made and directed by a group of children in Gibara. The making of the video was supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to send a message of hope and solidarity to children in nearby Haiti, where hundreds of thousands still remain homeless after the massive January earthquake. The children filmed their stories about hurricane Ike, which lashed the city of Gibara in Holguín in 2008.

One of the films that attracted special attention was Flash Forward, made in Budapest in 2005 by Cuban director Arturo Infante. The short documentary presents a futuristic vision of Havana in 2026, portraying it as an overpopulated megacity with a subway system, where temperatures plunge, snow falls, and rundown neighborhoods have been converted into thriving shopping centers.

Other featured films were DeMoler ([a word play on the Spanish terms for ‘to demolish’ and ‘to grind’”) and Revolución azul [Blue Revolution]. DeMoler, by Alejandro Ramírez, focuses on the reactions of sugarcane workers when a sugar mill is dismantled because of the decline and restructuring of the once powerful sugar industry. Revolución azul, by Diego Fabián Archondo, a Mexican filmmaking student in Cuba, addresses environmental issues by focusing on the introduction of the North African sharptooth catfish (Clarias gariepinus) into Cuba and its environmental impact.

In a session on “Water and the Environment,” addressing issues such as the need for environmental education and pollution damage to seas, rivers, and sources of drinking water, photographer Jorge Larramendi urged the environmental authorities to issue the required permits to filmmakers wanting to create works that reflect environmental problems and the errors committed in the past. Actress Luisa María Jiménez, who called for broader debate on the environmental impact of human activities, stated that “Art cannot change a country, but it can change attitudes.”

See full article at http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/45269.html

For a fascinating interview by Humberto Solás, see http://www.havana-cultura.com/INT/EN/cuban-cinema/humberto-solas/gibara-cine-pobre-festival.html#/2421

Photo of Solás from http://aquinones.diariolibre.com/?p=44

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