Fernando Pérez’s “Últimos días en La Habana”


Emilio Mayorga (LatAmCinema.com) interviews Fernando Pérez, referring to the director as “one of the most important contemporary Cuban filmmakers.” Pérez is about to start filming his ninth feature film, Insumisa, a co-production of Cuba (ICAIC) and Switzerland (Bohemian Films), which we will feature in an upcoming post. For now, we will share translated excerpts of Mayorga’s interview dealing with his latest film Últimos días en La Habana [Last Days in Havana] and Cuban cinema in general. Emilio Mayorga writes:

In his films “Suite Habana,” “Madrigal,” and “La vida es silbar,” the director explores the territories of metaphor while presenting an engaged social chronicle with honesty and elegance. [. . .] In early June he premiered in Cuba what he says is his # 8.5 film (since “Madagascar” was a medium-length film), “Last Days in Havana,” a film that began its tour of festivals at the 2017 Berlinale and continued in Guadalajara and Malaga (where he won the Biznaga de Plata for best Ibero-American film). Pérez has added quite a few awards to his filmography, such as the Sundance Jury Special Prize, the KNF Award in Rotterdam, and the Spanish Goya for “La vida es silbar.” LatAm Cinema spoke with the Cuban filmmaker about his impending project, his latest work, “Last Days in Havana” and also the present situation on the Caribbean island.

[. . .] The filming of your new film follows right on the heels of launch of “Last Days in Havana.” It was released in Cuba, after its premiere in February at the Berlinale. It reminds me of certain films by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, but wrapped in the social and urban chronicle of contemporary Havana…  Indeed, the focus was the human subject, the friendship between two characters that are so different. But the context was also very important. Today’s Havana, which I consider to be the most representative Havana because it is the most popular. There are many Havanas, of course, but it is in this landscape where most habaneros live.

[. . .] Let’s speak about Cuban cinema. What new expectations are opening; what happens now with Cuban cinema?  In Cuba there is a phenomenon that is taking place since the beginning of this century and I think it is the most interesting phenomenon of Cuban audiovisual today. This is what we already call independent Cuban cinema. It started in the late 90’s and especially took off in the first decade of the new century. In part, it is due to new technologies. Not that it is easier to make movies, but at least it is not as difficult as before. Many young people with a lot of audacity, a lot of commitment, and a lot of vocation have achieved it, even without achieving official recognition. There are production houses by independent young people that have not been formalized as a legal entity, but they exist, they are there. And there is already an independent film production outside the ICAIC, and in some cases even with the support of ICAIC…

Could you give some examples of new directors?  Pavel Giroud (“El acompañante,” “Tres veces dos”); Ernesto Daranas (“Conducta,” “Sergio and Serguei”); Patricia Ramos, who just made a totally independent film, “El techo,” an interesting film that she made in fifteen days; Miguel Coyula (“Memorias del desarrollo,” “Red Cockroaches”), who produces everything at home … in short, there is a long list of names. There is even a production company, Quinta Avenida, headed by Claudia Calviño and Carlos Lechuga, who service foreign productions and have a production plan of two or three films a year. [. . .]

For full interview, see http://www.latamcinema.com/entrevistas/fernando-perez-director-de-ultimos-dias-en-la-habana/

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