(photos courtesy of Tracey Owens)

By Christine Scott
The Havana Film Festival is a ten-day event that brings together filmmakers from all over Latin America (and for the first time, the United States) and showcases works from every genre—theatricals, documentaries, shorts, and animation—and plays in theaters throughout the city. Staying at the Hotel Nacional—the headquarters of the festival—gave me the opportunity to mingle with this Latino film community, with the outdoor patio lounge facing the Malecon as the perfect perch to sip mojitos, enjoy live music, and meet new friends. I brought a group of eleven people with me to the festival and since it was my fourth time in Cuba, I was eager to share my experience and knowledge of the city with these first-time visitors. After five days in Havana it was clear that they too had all been bitten by the Cuban bug.

El Cocinero3

Fabrica blue

The first night kicked off with dinner at El Cocincero, an old peanut factory converted into a terrace bar and restaurant. After climbing a narrow spiral staircase, we were lead to the outdoor terrace, which was dwarfed by the factory’s silo. It was artfully illuminated and lit up the dark Havana skyline. El Cocinero represents a new trend in Cuban dining, a privately owned “paladar” that offers gourmet cuisine in an artful setting.
From there we went next door to Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Art Factory), an oil factory converted into a performance space, art gallery and club, where we attended a “Game of Thrones” party. This was my first brush with reality… the Americans are coming! We rubbed elbows with Duncan Muggoch, one of the show’s producers, Ethan Hawke, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the newly appointed Chargéla d’affaires to Cuba, and many others in the film and television business. Fábrica de Arte represents another significant change in Cuban culture, an art space that is not government run and a place where Cubans and tourists can mingle, something that was unheard of in the past because entrance fees were prohibitive for Cubans. The 2 CUCS cover charge included a live dance performance, an art exhibit, a film screening and the club. Fábrica de Arte is my new favorite place in Havana. When we left around midnight, the line to get in snaked around the corner. Since it was still early by Cuban standards, we headed over to Don Congrejo, an outdoor club along the seawall of the Malecón, where we saw a Cuban rock band while the waves of the harbor crashed against the rocks behind us. It was our first night in Cuba and I couldn’t imagine how the week could have gotten better…. But it did!

I attended several film screenings, including “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGTB Revolution” which will be shown on HBO this year. Ironically, the night before the screening, we met two transgenders, Elizabeth and Havana, who were eager to introduce us to their LGBT community. They took us to a cabaret show at Club Las Vegas, where the two grand dames held court and introduced us to their friends. We were so warmly embraced and we felt privileged to be included in their small circle. This open expression of sexual identity is another notable change taking place in Cuba. Hearing Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro, at her film screening the following night confirm the government’s support of the LGBT community was affirmation of what we had experienced the night before.

It’s impossible to be in Havana and not be captivated by music and dance. There is music everywhere and it’s not unusual to break out in dance whenever the spirit moves you. I arranged for a salsa dance class with two of the most talented and sensual dancers I have ever seen. Even those in my group who had never danced salsa before were captivated. Later that night the dancers and their friends met us at Casa de la Musica, a fixture in the nightclub scene, where they put on a jaw dropping display of dance moves ranging from rumba, salsa, guaguanco, and son. When the famous timba group NG La Banda hit the stage, we felt like we had hit the jackpot. We danced into the night and left with the beat of the of the music pulsating in our body and soul.

With each visit to Cuba I experience something new and unique; one novelty this time was the direct flight from JFK to Havana. The Cuba that I first fell in love with 20 years ago has not changed—the people, the music, the spirituality, the charm of its antiquity—but in this last trip I noticed a more prominent American presence and I fear that the Starbucks and construction cranes are not far behind. So now is the time to go! A license from the State Department is still required to go legally and arranging flights and hotels can be complicated, but it’s certainly easier than it was a year ago. With that said, I will be leading another group to the Havana Film Festival in December 2016, so anyone interested in joining, inbox me at Christine@Cultsha.com. Vamos a Cuba!!

134 Comments on “

  1. [url=http://clomid10.com/#]clomid tablets[/url] – price of clomid
    [url=https://zithromax10.com/#]zithromax 250 mg australia[/url] – zithromax prescription online
    [url=https://lasixtop.com/#]furosemida 40 mg[/url] – buy furosemide online

  2. [url=http://metformintop.com/#]metformin europe[/url] – online metformin
    [url=https://zithromax10.com/#]zithromax for sale 500 mg[/url] – zithromax tablets for sale
    [url=https://propeciafavdr.com/#]purchase propecia[/url] – propecia costs

  3. Taxi moto line
    128 Rue la Boétie
    75008 Paris
    +33 6 51 612 712  

    Taxi moto paris

    Hello, constantly i used to check web site posts here in the early hours
    in the dawn, since i like to learn more and more.

  4. I’ll right away take hold of your rss feed as I can not find
    your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Please permit me recognise so that I may just subscribe.

  5. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well
    written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll certainly return.

  6. I just could not depart your website prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard information a person supply in your guests?
    Is gonna be back often in order to check up on new

  7. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have truly loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again very soon!

  8. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Safari.

    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post
    to let you know. The style and design look great though!

    Hope you get the problem solved soon. Cheers

  9. Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re
    working with? I’m going to start my own blog in the near
    future but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had
    to ask!

  10. I seriously love your site.. Very nice colors
    & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create
    my own website and want to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is
    called. Cheers!

  11. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the long run and it’s time to be happy.
    I have learn this publish and if I may just I wish to recommend you some attention-grabbing
    issues or tips. Maybe you could write subsequent articles regarding this article.
    I wish to learn more things approximately it!

  12. Thanks so much regarding giving me personally an update on this subject matter on your blog. Please understand that if a brand-new post becomes available or if any improvements occur about the current publication, I would be considering reading a lot more and learning how to make good usage of those techniques you reveal. Thanks for your efforts and consideration of others by making this site available.

  13. It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and it is time to be happy.
    I have read this publish and if I may I want to recommend
    you some interesting issues or tips. Perhaps you can write next articles regarding this article.
    I want to read more issues approximately it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *