Cuban film, culture focus of global film series

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Cuban film and culture will be the theme of this year’s riverrun Global Film Series, being held Oct. 12-14 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State.

The series aims to create a dialogue between the local community and institutions of higher education through screenings of films that provide a better understanding of our globalized, networked world. Free admission was made possible this year by riverrun, an educational organization providing cultural programming to the Western New York community, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

The series is produced by riverrun with support from the BPAC, and the UB Department of English, the department’s Juxtapositions lecture series and the James Agee Chair in American Culture, SUNY Distinguished Professor Bruce Jackson.

The keynote speaker will be Ann Marie Stock, professor of Hispanic studies and vice provost for academic and faculty affairs at the College of William & Mary. Stock’s talk, “Cameras in Cuba: Reflections on Revolutionary Cinema,” will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 12.

After her lecture, Stock will lead a discussion of the award-winning “Memories of Underdevelopment” (Memorias del Subdesarrollo, 1968), which will be screened at 7:15 p.m. Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and based on a novel by Edmundo Desnoes, the film tells the story of a writer who chooses to stay in Cuba after the Bay of Pigs invasion while his wife and family escape to Miami. This version of the film was recently restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation at the Cineteca di Bolgona, Italy.

One of the leading scholars of Latin American and Cuban cinema, Stock has made some 60 trips to Cuba over nearly 30 years. She has authored and edited numerous publications, including “Framing Latin American Cinema: Contemporary Critical Perspectives” (1997), “On Location in Cuba: Street Filmmaking during Times of Transition” (2009) and “World Film Locations: Havana” (2014).

Stock also consults with foundations, cultural organizations, government agencies and academic institutions seeking to develop partnerships with their Cuban counterparts.

“With the ongoing changes in U.S.-Cuba relations following Fidel Castro’s passing, and the release of her most recent work (“World Film Locations: Havana”), Professor Stock promises to deliver a lecture that will allow us the opportunity to reflect on the nature of global transformations today,” says Tanya Shilina-Conte, assistant professor of film and media studies in the UB Department of English and curator of the Global Film Series.

Local film experts and community leaders will introduce films during the series, among them UB’s Bruce Jackson and Dalia Antonia Muller, associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean history and associate dean of undergraduate education; Fredonia State College professor Alberto Rey, Canisius College professor Richard Reitsma; and Christopher Schobert, a film critic for The Buffalo News and writer for Buffalo Spree.

Jorge Guitart, UB professor of Spanish, and Cuban-born poet and educator Olga Karman will give readings of Cuban poetry beginning at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 following a happy hour with Cuban music provided by Wendell Rivera. Cuban-inspired cuisine will be available at the Burchfield Café during all three days of the festival.

Among other film offerings on Oct 13 and 14 are “Treasure Island” (1969) by the first Cuban female director Sara Gómez; “Tania Libre” (2017) by Lynn Hershman-Leeson, a film about the famous Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera; and “I am Cuba” (1964) by Mikhail Kalatozov, which will be screened in memory of Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017), an internationally renowned poet who visited UB in 2012 and co-wrote this film.

The lineup also includes “The Project of the Century” (2015) by Carlos Quintela, a film about an abandoned Cuban-USSR nuclear project; “The Companion” (2016) by Pavel Giroud, which focuses on the treatment of HIV-positive patients in 198Os Cuba; and a selection of shorts on Old Cuba/New Cuba, which features films across several genres, from animation to drama to documentary, some of which played this year at the Sundance Film Festival. This latter section will be dedicated to the memory of Julio Garcia Espinosa (1926-2016), one of the key figures of Cuban cinema.

The full schedule of events is available on the film series’ website.

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