OPENING NIGHT FILM
Director: Ernesto Daranas
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Q&A with director Ernesto Daranas after the film
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts” (C.S. LEWIS)
Chala is eleven years old and lives alone with his drug addict mother. He trains fighting dogs for a living, and this world of violence sometimes surfaces when he is at school. Carmela is his sixth grade teacher, for whom the boy feels affection and respect. One day she becomes ill and must give up the school for several months. The relationship between the veteran teacher and the boy grows stronger, but this mutual commitment may put in jeopardy their ability to continue at the school.
Written and directed by Ernesto Daranas, a Cuban director only slightly known before this film for his previous feature-length work, “Fallen Gods”, Conducta is in many ways an homage to the teacher as a pillar of society. In “Fallen Gods”, Daranas dealt with stories of prostitution in Havana, including the history the ‘oldest profession’ in the streets of Cuba’s capital city. It seems Daranas has a recurring interest in focusing on and paying tribute to professions that go overlooked or underrepresented by society, or perhaps by other filmmakers. Daranas is also a member of the generation of Cuban filmmakers who are experiencing a vast opening of censorship. Similar to Spanish directors after Franco, Cuban filmmakers are able to produce works today that would not have been possible even several years ago.
Although Conducta deals with the school as an institution of government, Daranas does not leave us inside the classroom. In fact, much of the film takes place outside of the school building, on the streets, and in the homes of students and teachers. This creates a sensation of the school as an educational institution which is actually not as rigid as the walls of the building – the process of education goes well beyond the classroom, into the streets and the home. This also places the character of the teacher as a mediator between the government and the student. In this case, the teacher, Carmela (played by Alina Rodríguez) intervenes in the government’s attempt to control the lives of her students, in particular a student named Chala (played by Armando Valdes Freire).
Conducta has won prizes at The Havana Film Festival, The Goya Awards, Malaga Film Festival and many others. It is regarded as one of the best film's to come out of Cuba in 2014. Conducta will play at the Bank of America Theater in the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Friday, September 18th. This is our Opening Night Film, and director/writer Ernesto Daranas will be in attendance, including a question & answer session following the film. This is an amazing film and an amazing opportunity for the community to meet and speak with one of Cuba’s dynamic young filmmakers. See you all there!!