Argentine director Anahí Berneri (right) on accepting the Coral for Best Fiction Feature Length for Alanis, noted: “This Festival has always been part of my career and it is necessary for us to see each other.” Photo: ACN /Omara García Mederos

Contemporaneity and thematic variety defined the films in competition this 2017, at the 39th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema.

Relevant contemporary issues such as migration, memory, ecology, challenges facing the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the fight for respect for gender diversity, and confronting violence against women, were just some of those featured throughout the festival program.

The Havana Film Festival presented its Coral Awards, with a total of 25 of the 34 prizes going to women, be they directors, editors, scriptwriters, or protagonists of the films, as event President Iván Giroud highlighted.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise if we recall that 34% of the films in competition this year were directed by women, chosen “on their own merit, not because of forced representation quotas,” Giroud pointed out.

For lovers of statistics, Argentina stood out with nine awards, followed by Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Cuba, all with four, while Chilean productions saw three awards, and Peru, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic were awarded with one prize each.

Still from The Desert Bride, directed by Valeria Pivato and María Cecilia Atán, from Argentina, Coral for Best Debut Film. Photo: Festival catalog

The awards gala in the Charles Chaplin theater (December 16) was presented by the young Cuban actress Andrea Doimeadiós (El techo) and the well-known Carlos Enrique Almirante (Fátima). Below we provide a list of the big winners on the night.


Beginning with fiction, Alanis by Argentine filmmaker Anahi Berneri won the Coral for Best Fiction Feature Length, highlighting the importance of the non-judgmental way the director looks at the issue of prostitution.

The leading actress, Sofía Gala, secured the Coral for Best Female Performance, alongside Daniela Vega in the main role of A Fantastic Woman, from Chile.

The director of A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, also obtained the Special Jury Award and the collateral prize awarded by the Únete program of the United Nations.

Lead actor Jean Jean was awarded the Coral for Best Male Performance for Woodpeckers, directed by José María Cabral (Dominican Republic). The film is based on a true story and was made with a strong testimonial character, filmed at the location where the events took place: a prison.

Another of the great contemporary Latin American directors, Argentina’s Lucrecia Martel, won several Coral awards for her film Zama: Best Director, Best Artistic Director, Best Sound, and the Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI).

The Coral for Photography went to María Secco for Wind Traces (Mexico), who also received the International Federation of Film Societies’ Don Quixote collateral award. Meanwhile, her compatriot, distinguished director Maria Novaro, took the Coral for Edition with Tesoros.

The Argentine film Invisible received the Coral for Best Screenplay, written by director Pablo Giorgelli and María Laura Gargarella. Meanwhile, the award for Best Original Music went to the group O Grivo, for the soundtrack to Joaquim (Brazil), by Marcelo Gomes.

In the Fictional Short category, the Coral went to Genaro by Colombians Jesús Reyes and Andrés Porras and the latter, upon receiving the award, dedicated it “to the victims of the conflict in Colombia.”

The debut works featured are always a mystery, and on this occasion the jury was generous. They granted a Special Mention to Medea, by Costa Rican Alexandra Latishev, and an award for Artistic Contribution to A Window to Rosália (Brazil), by Caroline Leone.

The jury’s Special Prize went to Killing Jesus, directed and script by Colombian Laura Mora, who presents a plot that poses multiple questions surrounding moral conflicts, the meaning of violence and revenge.

The Coral for Best Debut Film went to The Desert Bride, by Valeria Pivato and María Cecilia Atán, from Argentina, a film also awarded the collateral CiberVoto prize of the New Latin American Film Foundation.

Still from El libro de Lila, by Colombian Marcela Rincón, Coral for Best Animation. Photo: Festival catalog

The anticipated Audience Award, presented by the Festival’s president, was for Sergio & Serguéi, directed and script by Ernesto Daranas (Los dioses rotos, Conducta, Coral Prize 2014), confirming that Cuban audiences continue to support and enjoy national productions. The film also received the collateral Vitral Award from the Cuban Audiovisual Association.

The director and some members of the cast offered an extensive press conference in the Hotel Nacional’s Sala Taganana. Among them were Cuban actors Héctor Noas and Yuliet Cruz, and Ron Perlman of the U.S., who in response to a question noted: “For me this experience was special because I had always wanted to come to Cuba and not only did I do so, but I ended up working on a project together with Cuban creators. This also makes me the first American to be part of a film not produced by the United States in Cuba.”


The Coral for Documentary Short went to Lupulo’s House, by Paula Hopf (Mexico). The jury’s Special Award for Documentary Feature Length went to Adriana’s Pact, by Chilean Lissette Orozco, which also received the collateral prize of the Federation of Latin America Image and Sound Schools (FEISAL) and the Memory Award of the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center, while the Coral in this category was awarded to Baronesa, by Juliana Antunes (Brazil).

In the less represented category of Animations, Lupus, by Carlos López Salamanca (Colombia) received a Mention; the prize for Best Short went to Cerulia, by Sofía Carrillo (Mexico);Los dos príncipes by Adanoe Lima and Yemelí Cruz (Cuba) received a Special award; and the Coral for Best Animated Feature Length went to El libro de Lila, by Marcela Rincón (Colombia).

The important Unpublished Script category saw 26 works make the official selection, and the jury decided to award two mentions to: Kiribati, by Vladimir Cruz (Cuba), and Permanent Staff, by Ezequiel Radusky and Diego Lerman (Argentina), while the Coral in this category went to La pecera, by Glorimar Marrero (Puerto Rico).

The Coral for Best Film Poster was awarded to Diana Carmenate for ¿Qué Remedio? La Parranda, directed by Daniela Muñiz (Cuba).

The jury of the World Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS) opted for Brazil and awarded a Mention to Paris Square, by Lucía Murat, and its Prize to Liquid Truth, by Carolina Jabor.

The much-desired Post-production prizes were awarded by several enterprises: Habanero Films recognized The Ferns, by Antolín Prieto (Peru); Burbuja de Sonido recognized Caballo de Mar, by Ignacio Busquier (Argentina); Boogieman Media opted for Foto Estudio Luisita, by Sol Miraglia (Argentina); and Aracne DC and Arte Sonora awarded the documentary Silvia, by María Silvia Esteve (Argentina).

Ernesto Daranas (left), Héctor Noas (center) and Ron Perlman in the press conference for Sergio & Serguéi, which won the Audience Award. Photo: Ismael Batista

The International Festival of New Latin American Cinema is one of the most deeply-rooted cultural events in Cuba, followed since its beginnings by thousands of moviegoers.

Today, film continues to attract significant audiences, and stir a lot of passion. Surely 2018 will offer a great celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of this Festival, which continues to be a meeting point for Latin American filmmakers, and their audiences, and will be dedicated to the great Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Memories of Underdevelopment, Strawberry and Chocolate) on his 90th birthday.