Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti Retrospective

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Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti

I am an advocate of difference, both in life and in art. That’s why I don’t like to repeat myself. I always say that my job is to open doors and not to close them. Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, from an interview with Margaret Atkins in Cuba Absolutely

The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival is proud to host Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, one of Cuba’s leading contemporary film and theatre directors, to present a retrospective of three of his most representative films.

Born in Havana’s Vedado district in 1961, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti began his career as a writer, actor and director for children's television programs made for the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) from 1981 to 1987. His work won him six CARACOL awards from the Cuban National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), and a Diploma in Honour of Cultural Achievement from the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Cremata obtained a Dramatic Arts degree in 1986 from the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana. In 1990, he went on to graduate with a Diploma in Cinema, Video and Television Directing from the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión (EICTV) de San Antonio de los Baños. His thesis film Oscuros rinocerontes enjaulados (Dark Caged Rhinoceros) screened at numerous film festivals including in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and has since become part of the archive of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Cremata has travelled to over 45 countries throughout his career, presenting his films, giving artist talks and leading workshops on film editing, screenwriting and directing. From 1994 to 1995, he was a professor of Film Editing at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and professor of Film Directing at the Escuela Panamericana de Diseño y Publicidad and the Centro de Experimentación en Cine y Video (CIEVIC) in Argentina.

In 1996, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent a year working in New York City, but as he says in an interview with Vanessa Arrington in the Havana Journal, “It was this year, living in the centre of New York, with lots of money and everything, that I realized all I wanted was to return to Cuba and make Cuban films.”

In his career, Cremata has directed over 50 television episodes, two short films, one documentary, The Epoch, the Enchantment and the End of the Century (1999), and four feature-length narrative films: Nada+ (2001), Viva Cuba (2005), The Skimpy Prize (2009) and Chamaco (2011), the latter two adapted from plays by well-known Cuban playwrights.

For his work, he has won over 54 international prizes including the Grand Prix Écrans Juniors for Best Children’s Film at Cannes and the Best First Film Award at the Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana. Viva Cuba, which won more than 30 national and international awards, is one of the most widely acclaimed films in the history of Cuban cinema. With his innovative visual composition and wide-ranging style, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti is truly a master of cinematic storytelling.

Viva Cuba

In a tale akin to Romeo and Juliet, the friendship between two children on the verge of adolescence is threatened by their parents’ differences, one from an upper-class family and the other from a proud, but poor, socialist one. When the children learn that Malú's mother is planning to leave Cuba, they decide to run away together to find Malú's father and persuade him against signing the permission forms.



Carla, a young postal worker in Havana, spends her days postmarking thousands of letters and dreaming of the day when she can be reunited with her parents, who moved to the US when she was fifteen. To fulfill her longing for intimacy, she opens random letters and rewrites them into soulful prose, believing she is helping her fellow Cubans understand one another better. Beautifully filmed in black and white accented by brilliant colours, Nada+ has a stunning visual composition.

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Chamaco is a tense, urban drama adapted from a play by Abel González Melo, which reveals the troubled underbelly of Cuban society. “It’s not a movie that pleases viewers the way US films do,” says Cremata. “It’s bitter, hard, without any sugar-coating, a tough movie to swallow. It speaks of the dark side of human nature.” The plot revolves around the death of a young man in Havana’s Central Park. Using dimly lit shots that accentuate the atmosphere, Cremata investigates a disturbing world of male prostitution and police corruption.

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