Inaugural UNiTE Prize in the Havana Film Festival
As part of the 34th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, the United Nations System in Cuba has, for the first time, announced the UNiTE Prize. This Prize falls within the framework of the international campaign UNiTE to end violence against women and girls", which was launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2008, as well as "I say no", the Cuban branch of the campaign. The award was created for the purpose of selecting, from amongst all of the works which are competing in the Festival, the film which best reflects the problem of violence against women in any of its forms, from the most visible to the most subtle.
The awards ceremony of the 34th Festival took place on 13 December in the Taganana room of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, and commenced with the awarding of the UNiTE Prize. Fernando Brugman, Coordinator of the Culture Programme of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean presided over the Jury, which also comprised filmmaker Marilyn Solaya and producer Ernesto Pérez Zambrano. The Jury unanimously decided to recognise the Uruguayan-Mexican co-production La Demora ('The Delay'), directed by Rodrigo Plá, screenplay by Laura Santullo, as "a work which depicts a very common kind of violence: the structural violence inflicted in a socio-economic context, via the traditional allocation of gender roles. Maria, a single mother, suffers from this kind of violence, as she cares for her two children and her elderly father."
Brugman highlighted the role of culture as an effective instrument to convey messages in relation to complex themes, particularly in relation to society and education. In its report, the Jury emphasised that "La Demora is an excellent artistic work which, making exquisite use of cinematographic language, manages to convey the complexity of the everyday drama of the protagonist. Due to her position as a woman, she suffers from a lack of income security, lack of understanding from institutions, lack of external support, emotional solitude and overwork, all of which prevent her from achieving personal fulfilment. As the end of the film demonstrates, these factors keep her trapped in such a way that perpetuates her disadvantaged position, in the same way that they perpetuate a lack of equality for women in contemporary societies more generally."
The prize for the winning film, a painting by the outstanding Cuban artist Lesbia Vent Dumois, was presented by the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Cuba, Bárbara Pesce-Monteiro, who expressed her satisfaction that this prize recognises the work of those who are contributing to the struggle against this curse.
The ceremony finished with the awarding of the prize of the broadcaster Radio Habana Cuba to the Colombian film 'Chocó', which also deals with the theme of violence against women. 14 other entities, including international organisations, granted prizes to films chosen from among more than 600 works which entered in the Festival's competition, including works of fiction, in both feature-length and short film format, documentary films and animation.