18th Annual Havana Film Festival New York Announces Its 2017 Program

The 18th Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) showcases the diversity of Latino voices and stories in a program that includes over 35 films. This year, HFFNY pays homage to one of Cuba's foremost forces in animation and storytelling, Juan Padrón, and the late Argentine director Eliseo Subiela. The festival continues its tradition of presenting the history of Cuban rhythms with a cinematic retrospective on the music, religion and dance of the island. Plus, our audience can look forward to screenings of critically acclaimed films, many in their World, US and NY debut accompanied by panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and other special events hosted by leading figures in Latino cinema.

The Havana Film Festival New York, a project of The American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC) takes place March 30 - April 7, 2017 and includes films from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Spain, United States and Venezuela.

"Our 18th festival reinforces the mission of AFLFC by continuing to build cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through art projects," says Carole Rosenberg, President of AFLFC. "It Is a honor to have such an outstanding line-up of Cuban and Latin American films and filmmakers here to share their cinematic stories with our audience."

Our ever-popular kick-off event First Fridays! with The Bronx Museum of the Arts will take place at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, March 24 at 6pm. The program, free and open to the public, begins with a reception, followed by the screening of Pavel Giroud and JuanMa Villar's Playing Lecuona, a documentary about celebrity Cuban composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona. The film explores Lecuona's musical impact in an exceptionally inventive way- through the lenses of three contemporary megastars: Chucho Valdés, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Michel Camilo. Following the movie, a musical performance by Contino y Los Habaneros, named by NPR/WNYC as Manhattan's best band in 2015, with music by DJ ASHO.

"This year, HFFNY takes to the streets! Our main slate of screenings takes place at some of New York's most important venues. Our line-up features stories notable in their honesty, told with an urgency that leaves one with an emotional imprint," says HFFNY Artistic Director Diana Vargas.

HFFNY will be in Manhattan at the DGA Theater (March 30 & April 7), SVA Theatre (March 31-April 2), New York Film Academy (April 3-4), The Clemente (April 3, 5, & 6), and AMC Loews 34th Street (April 5-6). Screenings in Queens take place at the Museum of the Moving Image (March 31-April 1). All foreign language films are subtitled in English.

Thursday, March 30, starting at 5:30pm, the Directors Guild of America Theater (DGA) once again hosts HFFNY Opening Night & Red Carpet for its 18th edition with the New York premiere of Esteban, the story of a young boy who, with no resources but his raw talent, pursues his dream of becoming a pianist. The film, featuring original music by Afro-Latin jazz superstar Chucho Valdés, has won the hearts of audiences and critics alike on the festival circuit. Chucho Valdés and director Jonal Cosculluela will be present.

Friday, April 7, the 18th HFFNY closes with the NY premiere of Canadian Ron Chapman's musical documentary The Forbidden Shore, a cinematic portrait of Cuba's people, culture, politics experienced as never before through the incredible diversity of its music. Over the course of its 40+ performances and interviews by the island's top artists, a musical history emerges, a stunning chronicle of the pulse, rhythm and the very heartbeat of this nation. Director Ron Chapman and Cuban rapper Telmary will present.

Friday, March 31st, 3:00pm at the SVA Theatre, HFFNY presents the NY premiere of Salsipuedes. Originally designed as a TV series inspired by the work of the great Panamanian singer Rubén Blades, the film was Panama's official entry to this year's Academy Awards. At 5:00pm the program continues with some black humor from Argentina: El ciudadano ilustre/The Distinguished Citizen, from directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, a story of a jaded Nobel Laureate who returns home after 40 years, setting off an absurd series of events. At 7:15pm, José María Cabral, widely considered one of the Dominican Republic's top directors, will present his newest film Carpinteros/Woodpeckers, the first from that country to enter the world competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Cabral will be present for a Q&A following the screening. The last screening of the day is the U.S. premiere of Ya no es antes / Not Like Before at 9:30pm stars the darling on-screen couple Isabel Santos and Luis Alberto García, in this topical romance directed by Lester Hamlet.

HFFNY will begin their screenings at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens on Friday, March 31st at 7:00pm with the 1986 groundbreaking film Hombre mirando al Sudeste / Man Facing Southeast as part of the tribute to one of our most cherished Latin American filmmakers, Argentinean director Eliseo Subiela, who passed away last December.

Saturday, April 1st HFFNY starts the day at SVA Theatre 12:30pm with an important selection of films from the Universidad del Cine de Buenos Aires, a school that has played a central role in creating and supporting the new generation of Argentine filmmakers, followed by a Q&A with co-founders María Marta Antin and Mario Santos. This program is free and open to the public. At 3:00pm the NY premiere of El buen cristiano / The Good Christian, an eye-opening documentary offers a new perspective on the intervening roles of God, church, and state in the genocide of Guatemala's Ixchil people in the early 80s and the trials taking place today. Director Izabel Acevedo will be present for a Q&A. At 5:20pm, HFFNY screens an encore of its Opening Night film, Esteban. Continuing at 7:35pm, is the NY premiere of Jeffrey plus a Q&A with the director. Described as "a true collaboration between subject and storyteller," Jeffrey occupies a space between documentary and fiction, telling the story of a 12-year-old boy from the streets of Santo Domingo who dreams of hip-hop/reggaeton stardom. At 9:15pm HFFNY screens the US premiere of El soborno del cielo, a black comedy about religious intransigence by prolific Colombian director Lisandro Duque, who will join us after for a Q&A with actor Germán Jaramillo.

At the Museum of the Moving Image, we start Saturday, April 1 at 2:15pm with the NY premiere of El Amparo, a film based on the true story covering the unsettling deaths faced by the fishing village of El Amparo, Venezuela. Then, at 4:30pm, is the US premiere of Fátima o el Parque de la Fraternidad / Fátima, based on the story of the same name by the prestigious Cuban writer Miguel Barnet. Barnet will be present for Q&A. HFFNY follows with the NY premiere of Cuban maestro Fernando Pérez's latest film Últimos días en La Habana / Last Days in Havana at 7:00pm including a Q&A with actor Patricio Wood. Pérez took home the Special Jury award at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana last December.

Sunday, April 2 beginning at 12:30pm at the SVA Theatre, HFFNY pays tribute to the International School of Film and Television in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba (EICTV) celebrating its 30th anniversary, with a selection of shorts from some of its most distinguished alumni followed by a Q&A with EICTV's new director Susana Molina. At 2:45pm, the NY premiere, Salsipuedes, and 4:45pm with El ciudadano ilustre / The Distinguished Citizen and at 7:00pm the NY premiere of Últimos días en La Habana / Last Days in Havana. The weekend ends at 9:00pm, with the US premiere of the Ecuadorian drama Translúcido / Translucid, a transmedia experience that pushes viewers to ask themselves what they would do if given only one more day to live. Director Leo Zelig and actor Roberto Manrique join us after the screening for a Q&A.

Monday, April 3 HFFNY is at the New York Film Academy. At 4:30pm there's a special program on Cuban music, Historias de la música cubana/Stories of Cuban Music, featuring the U.S. premieres of two documentaries: Rebeca Chávez's Decir con feeling and Patricia Ramos' Ampárame! La Religiosidad en la música cubana, preceded by an introduction by the Director of the Cuban Film Archives Luciano Castillo. At 6:45pm HFFNY remembers the late Argentine director Eliseo Subiela with a screening of El lado oscuro del corazón/The Dark Side of the Heart, a masterpiece of poetry and magical realism in which a narcissistic poet trades words for food and falls for a prostitute who can fly. At 9:00pm, HFFNY screens the NY premiere of Enrique (Kiki) Álvarez's newest docu-fiction hybrid Sharing Stella, an evocative meditation on changing relations between the US and Cuba as experienced by Cuban actors prepping for a performance of "A Streetcar Named Desire." The film will be preceded by Claudia Muñiz Pérez's short film, Con sana alegría/With Wholesome Joy. Both Álvarez and Muñiz lead a Q&A following the screenings.

Tuesday, April 4, at the New York Film Academy, beginning at 3:00pm, the presentation of Ya no es antes / Not Like Before. At 5:00pm, the NY premiere of El techo / On the Roof, a fresh Cuban film about three kids trying to find themselves and their futures on the rooftops of today's Havana. Director Patricia Ramos will be present for a Q&A to follow. At 7:15pm we pay tribute to guest of honor Juan Padrón and screen his cult classic film Vampiros en La Habana/Vampires in Havana, who joins us after for a Q&A. At 8:45pm, HFFNY screens Santa y Andrés/Santa & Andrés, Carlos Lechuga's portrait of an unlikely friendship between two very different characters in Havana in the early 1980s.

Wednesday, April 5 HFFNY screens its main program at the AMC Loews 34th Street, beginning at 1:00pm with El buen cristiano/The Good Christian followed by Q&A with the director. At 3:00pm, El Amparo; 5:00pm, Carpinteros/Woodpeckers, and at 7:00pm Santa y Andrés/Santa & Andrés. At 9:15pm, the US premiere of Fátima o el parque de la fraternidad / Fátima, followed by a Q&A with director Jorge Perugorría and actor Carlos Enrique Almirante.

Thursday, April 6 HFFNY returns to the AMC Loews 34th Street, beginning at 1:00pm with Jeffrey; continuing at 3:00pm with Sharing Stella and Con sana alegría/With Wholesome Joy, 5:00pm, Playing Lecuona, 7:20pm with El techo/On the Roof, and 9:20pm withTranslúcido/Translucid.

Special Events

HFFNY honors Juan Padrón, the father of Cuban feature film animation. To celebrate his 70th birthday, the festival screens three of his most beloved films and partners with The Clemente to exhibit a collection of drawings and paintings he created over the course of his illustrious career. On Monday, April 3 at 6:30pm at The Clemente there will be a reception and art exhibition opening "Juan Padrón: Havana to New York." In conjunction with the exhibition, HFFNY will screen Padrón's cult classic Vampiros en La Habana/Vampires in Havana at the New York Film Academy at 7:15pm on Tuesday, April 4. Its sexy sequel, Más vampiros en La Habana/More Vampires in Havana at The Clemente at 7:00pm on Wednesday, April 5, and kid-friendly Elpidio Valdés at The Clemente at 6:30pm on Thursday, April 6. All presentations at The Clemente are free and open to the public.

Compelled by the untimely death of one of our most beloved directors, Eliseo Subiela, HFFNY screens two of his cinematic masterpieces: Hombre mirando al sudeste/Man Facing Southeast at 7:00pm at the Museum of the Moving Image on Friday, March 31 and El Lado oscuro del corazón/The Dark Side of the Heart at 6:45pm at the New York Film Academy on Monday, April 3.

To talk about the changes taking place in Cuba today, on April 4, 7:00pm at the New York Film Academy, Screening Room 521, the panel Cuban Cinema Today features legendary Cuban actor-director Jorge Perugorría, alongside Enrique (Kiki) Álvarez, Carlos Lechuga, Lester Hamlet, Iván Giroud, Patricia Ramos, and Jonal Cosculluela. Moderated by film professor Michelle Farrell. All panels are free and open to the public.
HFFNY Venues: * Bronx Museum First Friday HFFNY Kick-Off at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture: March 24, 2017 * DGA Theater: March 30 & April 7, 2017 * Museum of the Moving Image: March 31 to April 1, 2017 * SVA Theatre: March 31 to April 2, 2017 * The NY Film Academy: April 3 & 4, 2017 * Art exhibition opening & screenings at The Clemente: April 3, 5, 6, 2017 * AMC Loews at 34th St: April 5 & 6, 2017

The presenting sponsor of the 18th HFFNY is NBC/Telemundo 47. Additional sponsorship is provided by El Diario La Prensa, Cuba Travel Network, Roger Smith Hotel, Habanero Films, AMC Independent, New York Film Academy, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, Aguijón Films, DGCine, Funglode, Horns to Havana, Ron Barceló, Lipariri Photography, OnCuba, EnRola TV, QueensLatino.com, Playa Betty's, Cinefuegos, Matiz Latin Cuisine, Publimax, and Giovanni Quinche. HFFNY is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State legislators and supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the City Council.

About The American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC)
AFLFC is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Since 2000, we have been working with our partner, the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (LFC), a non-governmental, autonomous, non-profit art and cultural institution in Havana, founded in 1995. Together we have been building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through art programs that include visual and performing arts, educational and cultural exchange, professional development opportunities for artists, art professionals and students, and the annual Havana Film Festival NY. We inspire artists, assist researchers, disseminate art information, provide instruction on new technology and software, excite audiences and facilitate communication between the art communities in both countries. We offer unique cultural travel programs to the island that expose American travelers to Cuba's cultural riches while generating meaningful personal connections.

About the Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY)
AFLFC's flagship project, HFFNY, collaborates with Havana's International Festival of New Latin American Cinema to introduce its audience to prominent and emerging filmmakers by showcasing the latest award-winning films and classics from and about Cuba, Latin America, the Caribbean and Latinos in the U.S. HFFNY seeks to cultivate audience-artist dialogue through panel discussions designed to give a behind-the-scenes look at an industry that continues to gain global recognition. The festival program offers directors, actors, and producers an opportunity to exchange ideas, enriches and expands the vision of Latino culture, and provides a multi-cultural experience for a diverse audience.

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