Friday, November 25, 2005



Jorgito & Malu in Viva Cuba

The Discovering Latin America Film Festical arrived at its fourth edition last night with an emotional opening speech by Yos Rivas, one of the co-founders of the organisation (DLA) that not only acts in the film arena, but in other cultural and intellectual spheres as well and applies any revenue from their events into projects across Latin America. Peru is the beneficiary this year. DLA has raised £30,000 in its three and a half years of existence.

The film chosen for the opening was Juan Carlos Cremata's Viva Cuba (2005), a humorous road movie starred by two children. A realist piece on the surface, it draws on elements of the African heritage of the country and sprinkles the narrative with visual puns that are reminiscent of Latin American children's TV. Although a bit too cute at points, the overall tenderness won the audience over.
The story is very simple: Malu and Jorgito (played by eponymous actors) are best friends, kind of childhood sweethearts living in a neighbourhood of Havana. Their respective mothers don't like each other very much. Malu's mother (Larisa Vega Alamar), a petit borgeoise, does not approve of her tomboyish daughter hanging out with Jorgito's gang. But the children love each other and even bury a box with a promise they will remain friends forever.

When Malu discovers her mother is planning to take her abroad to live with a foreign lover she's constantly on the phone with, she runs away in the company of Jorgito and the duo start on a road trip to Malu's father's lighthouse in the farthest corner of the island, Punta de Maisi. Their journey turns out to be a discovery of friendship with the typical adventures involved, but it is also a love poem to one's land and roots. Malu doesn't want to leave Cuba, her friends and her school. And why would she? Her life is surrounded by so much sweetness that it makes you wish you could have a childhood like that. She even uses the word comrade at one point when she asks a cave explorer not to turn her in (the duo become national news while on the run), which drew laughter from the audience.

But Cremata is not interested in complex 'adult' politicking as it becomes very clear at the end. Viva Cuba is an ode to the sincerity of children's feelings, their view of the world around them and how much wiser than adults they can be. Never patronising, Viva Cuba treats children as they should be treated: as sensitive, creative and imaginative beings who are much more intelligent than we credit them for.

Check the site for more information of the programme, which runs until 4/12.

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