Festival de cine INSTAR

INSTAR Festival celebrates its fourth edition in transnational format

ByYelly Barrios. – November 30th, 2023

LatAm cinema.com

Organized by the International Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt (INSTAR), the festival will take place from December 4 to 10, for the first time in multiple venues, on-site and virtual, in Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe. As the festival's artistic director, José Luis Aparicio Ferrera, told LatAm cinema, "The goal is to create a corridor of images between different geographies, a network that will help alleviate the dispersion and isolation (of the Cuban diaspora) and bring us together again at the cinema."

The International Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt (INSTAR) was created in 2015 as a space to give voice to suppressed, censored, and banned stories, and to promote civic literacy and social justice in Cuba. Three years later, its founder, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, inaugurated a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In that context, and as a collateral activity to the exhibition, MoMA organized the show ‘Cuban Cinema under Dictatorship’ with the participation of Cuban filmmakers and cinephiles such as Orlando Jimenez Leal, Miguel Coyula, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, Eliecer Jimenez Almeida, film critic Dean Luis Reyes, and Bruguera herself. It was there, "in an after-dinner conversation where we talked about independent film production on the island," Bruguera recalls, that the INSTAR Film Festival was born as a support network for Cuban filmmakers, and also the PM Award, named in tribute to the 1961 documentary of the same name directed by Orlando Jiménez Leal and Sabá Cabrera, considered a paradigm of institutional censorship of Cuban cinema for more than half a century. 

In 2020, the first edition of the festival was held in Havana. The second one took place online due to pandemic restrictions, and the next one coincided with the retrospective of alternative Cuban cinema, "Land Without Images," held as part of the fifteenth Documenta in Kassel, Germany. Finally, in this fourth edition, the festival becomes transborder as a reflection of the "transnational character of the New Cuban Cinema”, in the words of Aparicio Ferrera.

For her part, festival director Tania Bruguera told LatAm cinema: "This fourth edition in such a diverse international arena will help filmmakers, especially Cuban filmmakers, think about and discuss the narrative and aesthetic challenges that come with making films in exile. Another aspect to consider is the lack of spaces for these works inside of Cuba, especially after the indefinite cancellation of the Young Filmmaker Showcase, the festival that most consistently attended to this production. The criminalization of independent projects and spaces on the island hinders the emergence of alternatives, but, fortunately, several projects like ours, located in different parts of the diaspora, manage to exhibit Cuban films and keep the debate on our cinema alive," Bruguera stressed.

The transnational character of the fourth edition of the INSTAR Film Festival is a way to be present in cities with a large number of Cuban exiles and at the same time generate new audiences and reflect the different circumstances that independent Cuban film production is going through.

The Latin American venues for this fourth edition of the festival will be the Alameda Art Laboratory Museum in Mexico City, the San Martín Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, the São Paulo Cinematheque, the Contemporary Art Museum of the University of São Paulo, and the FestHome Platform, where online programming for Cuba will be screened. In the United States, the festival will take place between the E-Flux Screening Room in New York, and Florida International University in Miami. In Europe, the program will be presented in Barcelona, at the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona and the Zumzeig Cinema Cooperative, and in Paris, at the Maison de l'Amérique latine. "This fourth edition is the first conceived in exile. This explains, perhaps, its lack of a center," the festival's artistic director, Luis Aparicio Ferrera, told LatAm cinema.

In addition to the novelty of multiple venues, in 2023, there is also a section of films in competition, two of which are world premieres: the documentary 'Women Dreaming a Nation' by Fernando Fraguela Fosado (Cuba, Spain, Mexico, United States) and the feature film 'A Man Under His Influence' (Canada, Cuba). The remaining films in competition from the region are: 'Abyssal,' a documentary by Alejandro Alonso (Cuba, France); 'Roads of Lava,' a documentary directed by Gretel Marín Palacio (Cuba); 'The Rodeo' by Carlos Melián Moreno (Cuba); ‘Option Zero' a documentary by Marcel Beltrán (Cuba, Brazil, Colombia); 'Leaves of K.', an animated documentary by Gloria Carrión Fonseca (Nicaragua, Costa Rica); 'Calls from Moskow', a documentary by Luis Alejandro Yero (Cuba, Germany, Norway); ‘The Pure Ones', a documentary by Carla Valdés León (Cuba); 'Mafifa', a documentary by Daniela Muñoz Barroso (Cuba); 'Taxibol' (2023), a hybrid film directed by Tommaso Santambrogio (Cuba, Italy); 'Veritas', a documentary by Eliecer Jiménez Almeida (Cuba, United States); and 'Windows', a documentary by Jhon Ciavaldini (Venezuela, Argentina). 

Simultaneously, 13 other films will be shown as Special Presentations, including a retrospective on Fernando and Miñuca Villaverde, as well as ‘Nighthouse' and ‘The Music of the Spheres’ by Marcel Beltrán (Cuba, United States); ‘The Son of the Dream’ and ‘Home’ by Alejandro Alonso (Cuba); ‘The Cuban Theory of the Perfect Society’ (Cuba) and ‘The Post’ (Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico) by Ricardo Figueredo; and ‘The Winter Campaigns’ by Rafael Ramírez.

The program will also include conferences, debates, and master classes. Many of them can be followed through the Festival's social media.

You can read the original note here

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