Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Film “Hands of Stone” Excluded from Havana Film Festival

Film "Hands of Stone" Excluded from Havana Film Festival / 14ymedio,
Zunilda Mata

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 19 December 2016 – The New Latin
American Film Festival ended as it began: marked by censorship. The
exclusion of the film Santa y Andres stained the opening of Havana's
main cinematographic event with gray, and spectators were also unable to
see the film Hands of Stone as punishment for the solidarity of its
director, Jonathan Jakubowicz, with Cuban director Carlos Lechuga.

The film, based on the life of Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, was
initially included among the feature films that would be shown in the
Festival Awards section, but it was never screened. The event's
organizers dropped contact with its director after learning of his
condemnation of the censorship of Lechuga, says the Venezuelan artist.

Days before the beginning of the Festival, Jakubowicz spoke by telephone
with the directors of Santa y Andres in order to assess the possibility
of withdrawing his film from screening in the competition as a
condemnation of censorship. After the publication of an interview with
Jakubowicz in 14ymedio on December 7, the Festival's organizers stopped
writing him. "Not only with respect to the copy of the film, but about
my attendance," he says.

"As the death of Fidel Castro was announced the next day, I thought that
was why, but they never wrote again. I suppose they preferred to avoid
an uncomfortable situation with me in Havana, at a time of such tension
for the island," reflects the prestigious director.

For viewers who sought explanations for the absence of Hands of Stone,
the Festival organization contended that the director "never sent the
exhibition copy." Although the director was planning to travel to
Havana, he could not bring it personally either without confirming the
trip after getting no answer from the event organization.

In the interview published by this newspaper, Jakubowicz explained that
he had thought about withdrawing his film from the billing because he
was afraid of becoming "that awful artist figure who supports the
repressor, a frequent figure in our countries and one who has done a lot
of harm to our peoples."

However, after speaking with Lechuga and his wife, he learned that "the
Festival is one of the Island's few windows looking to the world
outside," and he decided to keep the film in the festival. But when it
came time to organize sending the copy to Havana, the event organizers
were silent.

"It is a shame for the Cuban public who wanted to see the film. But
fine, in the end all of Cuba saw Express Kidnapping, and it is
forbidden, too. Art always reaches those whom it has to reach,"
Jakubowicz reflects.

Nevertheless, the director thanks the "festival for the initial
invitation" and wishes it "much luck in its continued struggle to bring
light to Havana's theaters. There will be better times. The winds of
changes are blowing strong and are inevitable, in Cuba as well as in
Venezuela," he asserts.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Source: Film "Hands of Stone" Excluded from Havana Film Festival /
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba -

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