Brazil's RAT FEVER and Chile's SIBILA Top Havana Film Fest in New York


The Brazilian film Rat Fever / Febre do rato (pictured) by Cláudio Assis, and the Chilean-Spanish film Sibila by Teresa Arredondo were the top winners of the 14th edition of the Havana Film Festival in New York, winning the Havana Star Prize for Best Fiction Film and Best Documentary Film, respectively.

The winner of this year's Havana Star Prize for Best Film Rat Fever is a story of an unrequited love. The poet Zizo, a pure-bred anarchist, is lost as soon as he meets the sober Eneida. She doesn’t mind being his muse, but she won’t go any further than that – whereas in Zizo’s circle of promiscuous friends, made up of social losers, bohemians and other proud outsiders, everyone goes to bed with everyone else.

Meanwhile, Zizo is busy with his dubious battle against ‘the system’, using his self-published newsletter ‘Febre do rato’ and a series of subversive street performances that primarily seem to reach his own friends.

Winner of the third Havana Star Prize for Best Documentary, Sibila (pictured right) builds the present through tracing the past. Filmmaker Teresa Arredondo begins rebuilding a relationship with her elusive aunt Sibila years after she was sent to prison, accused of participating in the guerrilla group, Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path) when Arredondo was only 7 years old.

Chilean director Fernando Lavanderos received the prize for Best Director for his sophomore production Las cosas como son / Things The Way They Are, a film about Jerónimo, 30, an antisocial guy who rents rooms to foreigners. A beautiful Nordic girl, Sanna, 23, arrives at his house bringing meaning into his life. While he’s attempting to win her over, suspicions arise when he finds out she’s hiding something in his house, awakening his biggest fears.

The prize for Best Screenplay went to Eliseo Subiela's Argentinean film Paisajes devorados / Vanishing Landscapes (pictured left) in which three young people plan to make a film about an alleged film director (played by iconic filmmaker Fernando Birri), residing in an insane asylum in Buenos Aires. The man disappeared from the film circuit after a young actress was murdered in the 1960’s.

Additionally, the jury gave a Special Mention to the Argentinean documentary film El etnógrafo / The Ethnographer by Ulises Rosell. The 14th edition of the festival took place April 12-19, and featured a tribute to the work of Birri, and the local premieres of Latin American film including Paraguayan hit 7 cajas / 7 Boxes by Tana Schembori and Juan Carlos Maneglia.