Unlike the majority of Latin America s cinemas, the Cuban film industry has continuously kept a low profile since the end of its golden age set between 1959 and 1969.
The Soviet Union co-produced Soy Cuba (1964) remains the most famous Cuban film in the western world. Apart from the Oscar nominated Fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate), few – if any – other Cuban films managed to attract global attention to a rather rich and singular cinema overshadowed by its leaders reputation and politics.
The Spanish Culture Center Cervantes is granting film fans of Cairo a rare opportunity to discover Cuban contemporary cinema with a series of films that have started screening last Sunday and end next Saturday.
Besides Strawberry and Chocolate, Enrique Pineda Barnet s nostalgic La Bella del Alhambra (The Beauty of the Alhambra) is among the highlights of the festival. The film traces the ups and downs of aspiring young singers and musicians trying to find fame and fortune in the famous 20s Havana theater Alhambra.
Fernando Pérez s La Vida es Silbar (Life is to Whistle), a template of Cuban cinema s magical realism, tells the story of three characters in present-day Havana who must choose between clutching to their self-restricting beliefs/delusions and letting go of them to lead a librating, undemanding life.
Jorge Luis Sánchez s El Benny is a musical biopic of 1950s Cuban bandleader and all-round mambo king Benny More, a larger than life figure with a penchant for brilliant tunes, hard-living and hell-raising.
The festival closes with Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti and Iraida Malberti Cabrera s Viva Cuba, a sociopolitical allegory about two children on the cusp of adolescence who embark on a journey to preserve their friendship.
The Cuban Festival is currently running at the Cervantes Institute, 20 Boulos Hana St., Dokki, Giza. For information, please call (02) 3760 1746 or (02) 3337 0845.