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9th Havana Film Festival New York - Press Release

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Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY), now in its ninth year, has become a highly anticipated annual cultural experience. Selected this year by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs as an official Immigrant Heritage Week event, the festival introduces attendees to some of the most exciting, witty and reflective movies about and from Latin America and Latinos in the U.S. Programs at the primary screening venue in downtown Manhattan, Quad Cinema, are scheduled from April 11 to 17, with special events at various locations throughout the city from April 10th through 18th. The Festival will once again present the latest trends in Latin American and Latino filmmaking by bringing the work of actors, directors, and producers from 12 nations to the New York metropolitan area. In keeping with festival tradition, over ten filmmakers from throughout Latin America will make the journey to New York and participate in post-screening Q&A sessions and panels events stimulating dialogue with peers and festival attendees.

HFFNY launches the week-long festivities at Quad Cinema on Friday, April 11th with tributes to Cuba’s satirical master, Juan Carlos Tabío, and leading Cuban actor Luis Alberto Garcia, with screenings of House for Swap at 1 pm, Adorable Lies at 3 pm and Love by Mistake at 5 pm. The opening night celebration at 7 pm, includes a New York Premiere of The Innocent’s Night, Cuban filmmaker Arturo Soto’s third feature film and winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Biarritz Film Festival, and an after-party at a nearby downtown club.

HFFNY will honor the work of award-winning documentary filmmaker Estela Bravo with a retrospective of her work; premiering her latest film, Who Am I? The Found Children of Argentina, at Quad Cinema on April 12th and 14th. The film recounts the twenty-year plight of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in their search for 500 stolen grandchildren, children of their own children that disappeared in Argentina’s Dirty Wars. To date, 88 of these missing children have been found and reunited with their birth families. Both screenings promise a very special appearance by Estela Carlotto, a key figure in the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo movement. WBAI’s Wake Up Call host, Mario Murillo, will moderate a conversation between audience and both Estela Carlotto and Estela Bravo. A selection of her award-winning documentaries, Fidel, April 13th and Children in Debt, The Cuban Excludables, Holy Father and Gloria, and After the Battle will be screened April 15th at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center.

The festival’s run at Quad Cinema closes on Thursday, April 17th, at 7 pm, with the NY premiere of Argentine director Ariel Rotter’s The Other, winner of the Berlin Film Festival’s two most coveted awards: Special Jury Prize and Silver Bear for Best Actor. Since world premiering at that event, the film has collected various important awards from around the globe. Mr. Rotter will be in attendance.

In an ongoing effort to keep New Yorkers up-to-date with the ever-changing Latin American film scene and its foundations, HFFNY has continuously presented efforts by new talent alongside the classic work of pioneering filmmakers. This year, HFFNY entices its audience with the work of new filmmakers by premiering the following full length features: Who Says it’s Easy?. Argentinean director Juan Taratuto’s 2007 box office hit in Argentina and Spain; Cochochi, Israel Cardenas and Laura Guzman’s beautifully shot fairy-tale on self-discovery and identity in the Mexican Sierra Tarahumara, winner at the Toronto and Miami international film festivals; Roberto Artiagoitia’s Radio Corazon, a triptic of vignettes told over the air to Chile’s most beloved disc jockey and national hero, El Chacotero Sentimental; Edmundo Rodriguez’s controversial Puerto Rican film The Two Faces of Jano; Phillipe Barcinski’s Brazilian award winner, Not by Chance (the Huelva and Recife film festivals); Puerto Rican filmmaker Raul Marchand’s Lost Angels; the crowd-pleasing Colombian film by Juan Fischer, Looking for Miguel; and Rodrigo Bellot’s groundbreaking Bolivian hit Who Killed the White Llama?. The Festival will also welcome leading filmmakers who have participated in past years to show their latest works, such as Brazilian filmmaker Jorge Furtado (Basic Sanitation), Cuban director Fernando Perez (Madrigal), and Guatemalean director Elias Jimenez (VIP, The Other House).

The Festival is honored to return to the world-renowned The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday, April 12th (12:35 pm) with the series Latin American Films For Children. This year, HFFNY offers children aged 5 to 12 the Peruvian 3-D animation Dragons: Destiny of Fire. This screening is offered in collaboration with the museum’s El Primer Contacto con el Arte program, and will be preceded by a workshop for kids on the symbolic evolution of dragons across cultures. Keeping kids of all age groups in the picture, Saturday, April 12th also offers a program for teens at Quad Cinema, Brooklyn’s New Children/New Youth Filmmaking Program. New Children / New York is a self-told urban testimonial in which a group of second-generation Latinos in New York City discover filmmaking as a tool to make sense of and communicate the experience of growing-up a Latino immigrant in the U.S.. Selections include: Fitting In, The Life of Dasha, Through My Eyes, Desconocido, My Movie, Don’t Hate the Player / Hate the Game, Wrong Way, Aerosol, and the work-in-progress documentary about the program that inspired these, New Children / New York.

HFFNY also provides a rare opportunity for audiences to see new documentaries from and about Latin America, outstanding portraits that reveal polemical and profound issues through original techniques in content and structure: The End and the Beginning, by Brazilian master Eduardo Coutinho (winner for Best Documentary in Havana, Cuba), Little Havana, by Argentine filmmaker Rolando Pardo (winner in the Rio de Janeiro and Brussels International Film Festivals), Dreaming in Blue, by Cuban filmmaker Ian Padrón (an exposé about the equally loved and hated Cuban baseball team Los Industriales), and The Heart, by Colombian filmmaker Diego Garcia (a portrait of a nation consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a century ago in an attempt to save it from ongoing war).

In the increasingly popular short film genre, the following Latin American films will be shown: Distinguishing Features by Kenya Marquez (Mexico), Doña Ana by Marlon Vazquez and Juanito Under the Orange Tree by Juan Carlos Villamizar (both from Colombia), Salt Kiss by Fellipe Barbosa (Brazil), Lapsus by Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina). The April 12th, 3 pm, program of short films by Latinos in North America offers Juan Alejandro Ramirez’s beautifully executed experimental effort, Some Kind of Sadness, Alberto Gonzalez’s sequel to his contribution last year, Havana Kidz II, and Gwendolyn Geddes’s ode the Cuban artist, Silvio Pupo, No Borders.

HFFNY continues to serve the filmmaking industry and film aficionados with its Meet the Industry panel discussion at NYU’S King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center on Monday, April 14th at 6:30 pm. The event will be a tête-à-tête with key industry figures and the festival ensemble of guest filmmakers sharing their ideas and experiences about Latin American/Latino filmmaking and distribution in the U.S. and Latin America. Moderated by Sandy Lieberson, Chairman of Film London, this free event counts on the support of such relevant organizations as OndaMax, Film Movement and Film in the City.

HFFNY will be collaborating with Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies on a two-day program of Puerto Rican movies called Centro at the Movies, scheduled for Monday April 14 and Tuesday April 15 at Hunter College School of Social Work. This will include a presentation and compendium of films highlighting the Center’s role in sponsoring and promoting Puerto Rican documentary films over the past thirty years. Alongside these screenings will be presentations of two contemporary Puerto Rican films for which the Directors will also be present: Lost Angels by Raul Marchand and The Two Faces of Jano by Edmundo Rodriguez.

HFFNY is stepping out of Manhattan and into the boroughs, offering music inspired programs in Queens and The Bronx venues. The April 12th screening of the Cuban film El Benny, about one of Cuba’s most cherished recording artists, preludes an April 13th Chita Rivera concert at Queensborough Performing Arts Center, Queensborough Community College. Special rates will be offered for combined ticket purchases. Leaping to The Bronx on April 18th, HFFNY partners with The Bronx Museum of the Arts for the world premiere of Cuban-American filmmaker Alberto Gonzalez’s Havana Kidz II; followed by an after-party with live music and a DJ presented by the Museum’s First Friday’s Series. The screening and Cuban-themed party will be free and open to the public.

Special guests at the festival include directors Juan Fischer, Ariel Rotter, Juan Taratuto, Elias Jimenez, Rolando Pardo, Edmundo Rodriguez, Juan Alejandro Ramirez, Alberto Gonzalez, Ian Padron, Diego Garcia, Estela Bravo, Rodrigo Bellot, Israel Cardenas, Laura Guzman, Gwendolyn Geddes, Gisela Sanders, actress Mirtha Ibarra, writer Gilberto Rodriguez, producers Lauren Mucciolo and Rey Pascual, industry insiders Eric Mathis, Rebeca Conget, Sandy Lieberson, Tami Gold, and Mario Murillo. In total, twelve nations will be represented at HFFNY 2008.

The ninth edition of HFFNY is made possible by Presenting Sponsor: NBC 4HD / Telemundo 47, and the festival’s official airline, Delta Air Lines. Returning sponsors also include El Diario La Prensa, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), The National Arts Club,, Film in the City, Metropolitan Pavilion, Gershwin Hotel, Putumayo World Music, WBAI, Juan Pablo Zaramella Studio, Patron Spirits Company, The Maritime Hotel, Bowery Hotel, LART, and Xael Charters.

HFFNY is a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC), a non-profit organization building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through exchange programs in the arts. The festival is directed by Carole Rosenberg, President of AFLFC, working with an executive committee, advisors, a small devoted staff and dedicated volunteers who make this project possible, and sponsors who believe in its merit.

For further information contact: Diana Vargas (Programming and Media Relations) at (201) 430-4904 or (917) 658-7735. E-mail:

Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) es un evento reconocido internacionalmente y que da a conocer el trabajo tanto de destacados cineastas como nuevos talentos que empiezan a abrirse camino en el mundo del cine con la exhibición de películas clásicas y estrenos de América Latina y de la comunidad latina de Estados Unidos premiados en otros festivales y cuyos temas muestran la realidad de esas comunidades. Su objectivo es promover diálogo entre el público y los cineastas invitados mediante talleres, seminarios y sesiones de preguntas y respuestas.

El festival se inaugura el viernes 11 de abril en el Quad Cinema de Manhattan, con el estreno en Nueva York de la premiada película La noche de los inocentes, del director cubano Arturo Soto.  Nuyorquinos, amantes del cine, podrán disfrutar de más de 40 películas de Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, México, Perú, Puerto Rico y Venezuela. Este año, el festival rende tributo al gran director de cine cubano Juan Carlos Tabío (Fresa y Chocolate, Guantanamera, Lista de espera). Nuestro homenaje a la actuación corresponde a Luis Alberto García, uno de los intérpretes más importantes de Cuba, conocido por su actuación  en Clandestinos, Zafiros y La vida es silbar. HFFNY también rinde homenaje a la obra de la cineasta Estela Bravo (Fidel, Santo Padre y Gloria, Quién soy yo). El festival clausura el jueves 17 de abril con el estreno de El otro, un film del argentino Ariel Rotter, Premio Especial del Jurado en Berlín y tercer Coral en el Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano de La Habana. Todas las películas están subtituladas en inglés.

En colaboración con el Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY, Bronx Museum of Art, y King Juan Carlos of Spain Center (NYU), HFFNY ofrece este año una variedad de eventos gratuitos o a bajo costo para celebrar el cine y la cultura de América Latina. Así mismo, HFFNY y el Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC) se unen para ofrecer un fin de semana musical, con la proyección de la cinta cubana El Benny -estrenada con rotundo éxito durante la octava edición del festival en 2007- y el concierto de la gran estrella latina Chita Rivera.

El programa completo y la información de compra de pases y sitios del festival estará disponible a partir de marzo 11.