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The L.A. Film Festival Welcomes the International Spotlight

The Los Angeles Film Festival is focusing their International Spotlight this year on Cuba. When people think about this country, some only remember stories heard on the news about their political unrest and poverty. I bet what they didn’t know is that Cuba is filled with amazing culture and art among so many other of its colorful qualities. Like many struggling artists in third world countries, so many of their creations rarely see the light of day- North American day, that is. Cuban films rarely find distribution in the U.S. and are being honored this year so get ready for some culture people, because that’s what this country is all about!

Four sensational films have been selected ranging with different Cuban related themes, each having the beautiful and mysterious Cuba in common. These films touch on inspiring stories that will definitely spark the interest of various types of audiences. For the documentary aficionado, two eye-opening films take you on a trip to and from Cuba. “Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba” is an appropriately titled film about the children of the 1960’s era who were sent to the U.S. to find better lives for their families. We get to follow some of these now adults back to Cuba and witness first-hand how their return after so many years will impact their lives. If you want to catch a glimpse of the everyday Cuba, dive into “Suite Habana”, the second documentary being presented in the International Spotlight. This film captures the lives of distinct Cuban civilians and follows them for one day. The best part? The film allows you to make your own story, with no dialogue. Feast your eyes on this cinematic beauty that tells its story with actions, emotions, and scenery.

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Speaking of stories, two narratives bring to life tales of romance and coming of age during the political unrest in Cuba. “Habana Eva” tells the story of Eva, a young Cuban woman who aspires to be a fashion designer. We see her try to make her dreams come true in a post-Fidel Cuba with the help of a debonair ex-patriot. Tied down by her current boyfriend and the challenges of a young professional woman in Cuba, Eva is forced to face choosing between her dreams and love. Another coming-of-age story is “Ticket to Paradise” which follows a group of teens seeking freedom in the form of Havana. Set in the 1960’s – the peak of Cuba’s failed economy – we shadow Eunice’s journey of self-refuge, love, and ultimate release from the grasps of a life of poverty and abuse.

I can already tell you are intrigued! These films, among the many selected during The Los Angeles Film Festival, allow us inside the clandestine Cuba and its many fruitful stories. The festival website is even welcoming the Latino community to be a part of this international event by making their website entirely in Spanish by just clicking www.lafilmfest.com/en-espanol. So brush up on that Spanish and spread the word to your fellow Latinos, culturally curious, and all around worldly friends. The International Spotlight on Cuba kicks off June 23, 2011, but Cinecultura takes place throughout the entire festival, so be sure to make room for viewing during all your film festival activities. This is going to be a good one, I can feel it!

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