-Showcased films from both Cuba and Scotland, as well as further afield- Reviews: "Humberto" (Carlos Barba Salva), "Tangerine", (Sean Baker) "Vampiros en La Habana" (Juan Padrón)
By Brian Beadie
The first film I saw was Humberto, by Carlos Barba Salva, a biography of the late Humberto Solas, one of the pioneering directors of Cuban cinema. With extensive archive footage of the man, and generous contributions from his collaborators, this proved to be a fascinating portrait of a fascinating man. In some ways, his story paralleled Cuban cinematic history; after making a low-budget film about the revolution, he came to international prominence with Lucia, an epic film about three women at crucial junctures of Cuban history. Solas would concentrate on women in his films, as he believed their situation more accurately reflected what was going on in society, going on to make more lavish period films which have been compared to Visconti, as he couldn’t articulate his views on contemporary Cuban society because of censorship of his one film to do so, Un Dia de Noviembre.
While these may have culminated in a spectacular international coproduction of Explosion in the Cathedral, a novel by the Cuban novelist who triggered magic realism, Alejo Carpentier, the collapse of the Soviet Union would see the island’s economy almost nearly collapse in the ‘special period’.
After some years of not making films, Solas would be one of the first filmmakers to embrace the possibilities afforded by digital video cameras, and would set up the Cine Pobre Film Festival - a Cinema of Poverty - for low budget films which continues to this day.