Havana is marvelous. It is a unique place and a vibrant city full of contradictions. The Cuban capital is beautiful almost any time of the year, every season has a unique appeal. There is something about Havana in December that makes the experience special: it is the time of the Film Festival. During 10 days Havana or better the Vedado neighborhood is dominated by one thing: MOVIES!
The Latin American Film Festival takes place every year in December. This year it starts at the 6th and ends at the 16th during these days every movie theater is packed and shows films from 10 am in the morning until 10 pm at night. Also this year the streets will be packed with people strolling from one cinema to another. This time of the year Havana welcomes many visitors from Latin America and all around the world, presenting their movies, short films, and documentaries in the festival.
The Recipe Against a Rainy Havana in December
If you happen to visit Havana during this time of the year, you might be fortunate and catch great weather, sunshine, heat, the whole thing. However, you might also be a bit unlucky and find yourself walking around in short and flip flops in the middle of a cold front. In case that happens to you, I have 2 pieces of advice: 1. Pack a sweater and an umbrella, and 2. Buy a ticket to the festival and watch some movies. It is cheap and keeps you dry, whereas wandering the streets of Havana might be less pleasant during a cold front. Also, no worries, those usually do not last very long, and you will soon be able to enjoy the sunny weather you came for again.
What to see when and how?
You will be able to watch movies from all over the world but mainly from Latin American countries. I had a peek at the program, and there are many movies from Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico this year, but also from a lot of other places. They show fiction films, documentaries and short films in the many cinemas all over the Vedado neighborhood and announce the playing times every two days. You can get the program in every cinema in Havana for 2 CUP (that’s about 10cents). The main theaters for the festival are:
- Cine Yara
- Cine la Rampa
- The Cine Chaplin
- 23 y 12
- Cine Infanta
All of them except the Cine Infanta (located on Infanta e/ Neptuno y San Miguel) is located on the famous 23rd street. Especially the Cine Yara is a highlight for every visitor as it keeps its 50ies charm. It used to be the Cine Warner by the way and was part of the Warner Brothers cooperation.
You can buy your “pasaporte” (passport) for the festival at any cinema, but mainly at the Cine Chaplin at 23 and 10. The ticket costs 10 CUP (ca. 50cents) and gives you access to 7 movies. You can also use it for two persons and watch 3 movies.
When to go?
Many of the films are presented by the director or even the lead role, and you will be able to catch some first screenings. And particular highlights like the screening of “Yuli,” the movie about the dancer Carlos Acosta on the 7th in the theatre Karl Marx at 8 pm. Be early because many people are waiting for the screening here! That’s mainly why it was moved to the biggest theatre in town. For other movies, you can also download the App for the festival or download the program as a PDF here.
Special Vibes in the Theatres
I love going to movies in Cuba, especially if it’s a Cuban movie and somewhat critic, funny or even boring and bad, people really engage with the film and even if you don’t understand everything it is fun to join the experience. All movies are shown in the native language with Spanish subtitles. And some of the Cuban movies come with English subtitles!
The Film Festival makes Havana in December unique and will bring great insides in the Cuban culture.