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Caribbean Cinemas: Visions of Ruin, the Submerged and the Emerging

Dr Francisco-J. Hernández Adrián curated this special programme of contemporary Caribbean and island films for FICCI 57 (Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena de Indias). Founded in 1959, FICCI is one of the oldest and largest film festivals in the Global South. He was also member of the Jury for the festival's Official Short Film Competition.

Caribbean Cinemas: Visions of Ruin, the Submerged and the Emerging presented a transnational landscape of productions in which the Caribbean is much more than a geographical or cultural area – it has become a multilayered, extraterritorial and universal experience. The program brings viewers closer to the conflicting imaginaries and narratives that characterize the Caribbean, both through experiences and cultural thinking: island/ continent; inside/ outside; plantation/ port city; insular experience/ cosmopolitan vision; tourist paradise/ sociocultural hell; tropical cabaret/ sociopolitical rigidity. A Caribbean scarred by its contact, at times tragic or oppressive, with the earth, the sea and the air.

FICCI is the Caribbean's own celebration, as it carries in its vision the culture of this region which has expanded throughout the world. Although it is hosted by the city of Cartagena, it embraces the richness of the Caribbean, in which nature is a nurturing force that can furiously destroy everything within its wake; it can lead to ruins, and sink realities, but it has also been witness to a complex social and political history of racial mixtures, migrations, dictatorships and revolutions. Witness to an intense mobility and a permanent stillness. Multiple stories and universes that merge, material poverty, the endless creativity of its people, and many other realities, coexist in the Caribbean.

The program features eight productions. The Cuban and Latin American classic Memorias del Subdesarrollo [Memories of Underdevelopment] (1968) by Tomás Gutierrez Alea, screened in its restored version, presents an ironic and lucid view on Cuban society and the revolutionary energy of the 60s from the perspective of an isolated bourgeois. Caballos [Horses] (Cuba, 2015), Fabian Suarez's opera prima, revisits the historical and aesthetic experience of Gutiérrez Alea's masterpiece from a new perspective.

Three recent productions broaden the landscape and the discussion on the Caribbean today: Meurtre à Pacot [Murder at Pacot, 2014] by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, in which a man attempts to reinvent his life after the great earthquake that shocked the country; Beira-Mar [Seashore] (Brazil, 2015) by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon is a coming-of-age film that follows the amorous exploration of two youths; and the Mexican documentary Ruinas tu reino [Ruins your realm, 2016] by Pablo Escoto, which follows a group of fishermen as they go on a round trip through the Gulf of Mexico.

Additionally, the program features the Dominican documentary Jeffrey (Dominican Republic and France, 2016) by Yanillys Pérez, which talks about the harsh realities of child poverty. From the Colombian Caribbean, the film Keyla (2016), directed by Viviana Gómez Echeverry had its world premiere at FICCI 57. The movie was filmed in the island of Providencia from the perspective of an adolescent and feminine universe of losses and re-encounters.

Finally, and giving way to a suggestive insular counterpoint, the program features the award-winning Taiwanese film Stray Dogs (2013), which tells the story of an alcoholic father and his two children as they try to improve their lives in an environment that goes from forests and rivers to the streets of a city devastated by capitalism.

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