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20th Havana Film Festival Announces Its Full 20th Anniversary Lineup

20th Havana Film Festival Announces Its Full 20th Anniversary Lineup

The 20th Havana Film Festival in New York (, a project of The American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC), presents an exceptional program celebrating the diversity of voices and cultural expressions of Cuba and Latin America. Highlighting stories that open minds and start conversations, this year's Festival is filled with tales of suspense, whimsy, adventure, revenge and love from films that have traveled the international festival circuit, and picked up some highly regarded prizes along the way. From comedies that double as biting critiques of bureaucratic policy, to supernatural dramas that remind us to never forget, to powerful documentaries that unearth truths, break silences, and imagine new worlds, the 20th Havana Film Festival New York is a journey you don't want to miss. All foreign language films will be subtitled in English.

HFFNY 2019 will run April 9-16, with special events April 5-8, featuring over 35 award-winning films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Latino-Americans- many in their World, US, and NY premieres- accompanied by panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and other special events hosted by leading figures in Latin American cinema. This year, HFFNY pays homage to one of Cuba's most celebrated storytellers, Fernando Pérez, with screenings of his most beloved works, including SUITE HABANA and CLANDESTINOS, plus a special centerpiece presentation of his newest historical drama, INSUMISAS. The Festival furthermore treats NYC to the history of the city of Havana with a cinematic retrospective featuring some of Cuba's most iconic filmmakers in honor of its 500th anniversary. The program includes a special screening of the restored copy of cinematographic masterpiece MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT / MEMORIAS DEL SUBDESARROLLO, with its writer, Edmundo Desnoes, in attendance to discuss the film and answer audience questions, and a series of newly restored newsreels by Cuba's foremost documentarian, Santiago Álvarez. The Festival travels to the Bronx to pay tribute to the late Cuban filmmaker Rigoberto López, a fundamental force in the development of the cultural identity of the Caribbean. His classic documentary YO SOY DEL SON A LA SALSA will be shown at iD Studio, followed by a Q&A session with musicologist René López.

"This year's program is all about the power of perspective, and how new voices are coming to the forefront to change not only how we think of Latin American cinema, but also how the film industry operates as a whole," says HFFNY Artistic Director Diana Vargas. "As such, a major part of our 20th anniversary program, is the celebration of the work of female directors from Latin America and the Latinas here, who paradoxically, have been making changes in the male-dominated industry to have stories featuring a new point of view."

The Festival will take place at several venues including the Directors Guild Theater (DGA) (110 West 57th Street), AMC Loews 34th Street (312 West 34th Street), SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street), and NY Institute of Technology in Manhattan (16 West 61st Street); the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria); and iD Studio Theater in The Bronx (311 East 140th Street).

HFFNY kicks off on Friday April 5, at 6:30 pm with the free film screening of Rigoberto López's YO SOY DEL SON A LA SALSA as part of the Festival's outreach program in The Bronx. The presentation is in collaboration with iD Studio Theatre. Told by its respective protagonist and musical experts, this classic documentary takes us on a journey from the origins of Cuban son to today's interpretations of Salsa in New York City, Havana, San Juan, Caracas and Ponce, celebrating the long history of a musical movement that has made everyone dance. Introduced by musicologist René López. Admission free, rsvp required

Queens Borough joins HFFNY with presentations at the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) on Sunday, April 7 at 2:00 pm with the whole-hearted documentary, ELIADES OCHOA: FROM CUBA TO THE WORLD / ELIADES OCHOA: DE CUBA PARA EL MUNDO by Cynthia Biesteck. The party continues the following Sunday, April 14, 2:00 pm, with the US premiere of INNOCENCE / INNOCENCIA by Alejandro Gil. At 4:30 pm MOMI hosts the US premiere of Brazilian director Beatriz Seigner's debut feature, LOS SILENCIOS, a poetic, supernatural tale of a mother displaced from the conflict in Colombia who finds refuge for her family in a ghostly island of the Amazons in Brazil.

On Tuesday, April 9, 7pm, HFFNY rolls out the red carpet at SVA Theatre to officially welcome the directors and films competing for the Havana Star Prize, with the premiere of Arturo Infante's hilarious directorial debut, THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF CELESTE GARCIA / EL VIAJE EXTRAORDINARIO DE CELESTE GARCÍA. A retired teacher leaves her job at the Havana Planetarium to find a new, more fulfilling life among aliens. Actor Nestor Jimenez present for Q&A.

The competition continues the next day, Wednesday, April 10, 1:00 pm at the AMC Loews 34th ST, the Festival's main venue, and ends on Monday, April 15, at 7:30 pm with theHavana Star Prize Awards Ceremony, followed by HFFNY's Centerpiece Presentation and the North American Premiere of INSUMISAS, a topical historical drama by Cuban directors Fernando Pérez and Laura Cazador about the first female surgeon in Latin America and one of the most scandalous trials in Cuban history.

On Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m., the 20th HFFNY concludes at the DGA Theater, with a celebration of world-renowned Cuban ballet dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta. The International Performing Arts Foundation (TIPAF), and The American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC) present the NY premiere of YULI (Iciar Bollain, 2018) the poignant feature film of Acosta's life that chronicles his rise from poverty and prejudice to become an icon in the dance world. Proceeds from VIP tickets, which include the Cocktail Party and Fiesta Cubana, will go to supporting exchange programs in the arts and a 3-year residency at Acosta Danza offered to emerging dancers of limited means from around the world.

This year a total of 16 films compete for the Havana Star Prize in the categories of Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress and Best Documentary.



Ana Katz | Argentina, Brazil, France | 2018 | Fiction | 106min | NY PREMIERE

A smart comedy about an unstable family vacationing in Brazil, Katz's newest work is a romping road trip replete with sexual flings, romantic troubles, and newfound leases on happiness.


Agustín Toscano | Argentina, Uruguay, France | 2018 | Fiction | 94min | NY PREMIERE

When Miguel, a thief who operates from his motorbike, snatches the purse from an old woman, he ends up injuring her badly. Unable to forget about his victim, and plagued by guilt, Miguel tries to do the right thing. The closer he gets to the injured woman, the more he becomes entangled in his own lies until he can't distinguish right from wrong


Beatriz Seigner | Brazil, France, Colombia | 2018 | Fiction | 89min | US PREMIER

A mother displaced from the conflict in Colombia finds refuge for her children in a ghostly island of the Amazons in Brazil. Beatriz Seigner's film is a poetic story that transcends the boundaries of politics.


Natalia Cabral, Oriol Estrada | Dominican Republic, Spain | 2018 | Fiction | 90min | NY PREMIERE

A quiet middle class world of good intentions begins to crumble when fourteen-year-old Miriam meets her internet boyfriend. While her family and friends prepare for her a traditional fifteenth birthday party, Miriam doesn't know how to explain that her boyfriend is black.


Arturo Sotto Díaz | Cuba, Mexico, Dominican Republic | 2018 | Fiction | 118min | NY PREMIERE

Arturo Sotto transports us to 1994 Cuba, when international political tensions are high. In the village of Siboney, a young woman, Sugar, is convicted of murder. As she sets out to prove her innocence, she weaves a stormy tale of love, jealousy and betrayal that goes back decades.


Alejandro Gil | Cuba | 2018 | Fiction | 120min | US PREMIERE

Based on true events, this eye-opening film takes us back to the 1870s when Cuba, still under Spain's rule, bore witness to the unjust executions of eight medical students by Spanish colonial authorities.



Arturo Infante | Cuba, Germany | 2018 | Fiction | 92min | NY PREMIERE

The feature film directorial debut of famed Cuban screenwriter Arturo Infante, follows retired teacher Celeste as she leaves her job at the Havana Planetarium to find a new, more fulfilling life among aliens.


Blanca Rosa Blanco, Alberto Luberta | Cuba | 2018 | Fiction | 105min | US PREMIERE A detective needs to dig deep into the past after the man she helped convict for a string of crimes dies, releasing a letter of innocence. The directorial debut of actress Blanca R. Blanco is a police thriller that brings viewers into a complex tale of love, mystery, and bravery.


Alvaro Delgado Aparicio | Peru, Germany, Norway | 2017 | Fiction | 95min | NY PREMIERE14-year-old Segundo lives with his parents in an indigenous village high up in the mountains of Peru. Noe? is a respected artisan and Segundo's role model. Segundo sees silence as his only option for dealing with his father's secret. Retablo is an exquisitely shot film about art, family, toxic masculinity, and homophobia.


Benjamin Naishtat | Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, France, Switzerland | 2018 |

Fiction | 109min | NY PREMIERE

Set in Argentina during the mid-1970s, Naishtat's hypnotic drama follows a successful lawyer whose picture-perfect life begins to unravel when a private detective comes to his seemingly quiet small town and starts asking questions.



Margo Guernsey | United States | 2018 | Documentary | 57 min | NY PREMIERE

A Dominican hotel housekeeper has won a City Council seat in Providence, RI. Energized to advocate for low-income workers, her stamina for politics is put to the test.


Marta N. Bautís | United States, Cuba | 2018 | Documentary | 60min | US PREMIERE

Follow Bauti?s's journey through Havana, Matanzas and Gibara, as she explores the cultural and historical influences of two renowned musical genres. The documentary combines rich, archival footage with illuminating interviews, revealing a comprehensive understanding of Cuba's cultural landscape.


Olivia Luengas | Mexico | 2018 | Documentary | 88min |NY PREMIERE

Upon discovering that something wasn't right with her mental health, Liliana and her family seek a reason for her emotional instability and her frequent hospitalizations due to suicidal attempts. Facing a possible relapse and without the option of psychiatric institutionalization, they will resort to home treatment.


Tristán Bauer | Argentina | 2018 | Documentary | 80min | NY PREMIERE

This film looks for the motives behind the death of Argentine social activist Santiago Maldonado. In a country of 30,000 disappeared, Santiago's generated indignation from family members, human rights organizations and society as a whole. On October 17, 78 days after his disappearance, the body of Santiago appeared on the banks of the Chubut River and this documentary began. Narrated by actor Dari?o Grandinetti and music by Leo?n Gieco.



Teresa Arredondo Lugon, Carlos Vasquez Mendez | Chile | 2018 | Documentary | 80min

In September 1973, 19 paper mill workers were imprisoned and taken to a police station. 6 years later their bodies were found. After 40 years a policeman involved breaks the pact of silence.


Cynthia Biedek | Cuba, Mexico | 2018 | Documentary | 100 min | NY PREMIERE

Spreading his love for traditional Cuban folk music has always been the main goal of Cuban legendary guitarist Eliades Ochoa. That love shines through in this documentary.

Additionally, HFFNY will host the short film program: Films 2 Films: Vignettes from Cuba to NY at AMC LOEWS 34TH ST 4/13 at 3:30 pm. Films include CUBAN WAVE RIDERS by Liz Magee, Taylor McNulty; LATIDO DE CORAZÓN by Hadley Schnuck; CUBAN CANVAS by Kavery Kaul; CARLOS Q.D.W. by Miguel Rueda; and LESSON # 8 by Alberto Ferreras.

Special Programs - Free and Open to the Public

HFFNY welcomes a new venue partner, the NY Institute of Technology, to present Happy 500TH Birthday, Havana! The City on Film. The retrospective includes the works of some of Cuba's most iconic filmmakers: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Santiago Álvarez, and Fernando Pérez. On Saturday, April 6, 3:00 pm HFFNY screens a program, curated by Cuban Film Archives Director Luciano Castillo, of some of Santiago Álvarez's most seminal newsreels, restored and remastered. On Monday, April 8, 6:30 pm, HFFNY presents SUITE HABANA (2003), Fernando Pérez's award-winning city symphony set on the vibrant streets of Havana. Free Admission, RSVP at

On Saturday, April 13, 12:00 pm, at AMC Loews 34 ST theater, a roundtable discussion featuring a dynamic group of accomplished, ambitious women as they share their experiences in By Women For Women: Latinas Spark Change. Ana Katz, Olivia Luengas, Margo Guernsey, Blanca Rosa Blanco, Marta Bautis, will talk about their experiences behind the camera in a conversation moderated by Professor Michelle Farrell. Free Admission, RSVP at

On Sunday, April 14, 12:00 pm at AMC Loews 34 Street theater, the book launch of EL PRETEXTO DE LA MEMORIA: UNA HISTORIA DEL FESTIVAL DE CINE DE LA HABANA in which Iván Giroud, President of the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema of Havana, presents his newest publication and shares anecdotes of the iconic festival. Moderated by Professor Jerry Carlson.

More information and details of the festival as well as the complete program is available

HFFNY 2019 is grateful for the support of Remezcla, El Diario/La Prensa, the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), the Copacabana Times Square, Aguijón Films, Consulate General of Peru in NY, Consulate General of Argentina in NY, Bach Media, Havana Music Tours, New York Latino Magazine, as well as our collaborators Ron Barceló, Café la Llave and the National Arts Club.

HFFNY is possible with the generous help of public funds granted by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Honorable Governor of the State of New York, Andrew Cuomo, the legislature of the State of New York and the support, in part, of the Public Funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the City Council of New York.

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