Since 1979, the Havana Film Festival, or International Festival of New Latin American Cinema has been taking place on a yearly basis in Havana.

The festival takes over the city of Havana for 2 weeks in early December each year.


Thousands of people make their way to Havana each year to see the films on show, rub shoulders with significant people from on and behind the screen and to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the Cuban capital city.

Many describe the Havana film festival as having a unique ambience as the cinema screens are in Cuban theatres which date back tens of years to the 1940's and 1950's, before the arrival of multiplexes, DVD's and digital surround sound. Some visitors are so enthusiastic about the festival that it is not unheard of to watch up to 6 films each day and queues of people that never seem to end.

Cuba itself produces its fair share of internationally recognized Cuban films as well.

The first festival saw over 600 film people respond to ICAIC (the Cuban Institute of the Cinematographic Art and Industry) in the festival's first year which in turn was given further prestige with the addition of Nobel prize winning Gabriel García Márquez (Literature - 1982) and revered Cuban filmmaker Santiago Álvarez Román.


Alfredo Guevara, one of the founding members of ICAIC and Director of the institution up until 1980, received one of Cuba's highest awards for his contributions to Cuban culture in March 2007 and in 2008 the Latinidad prize for his work in preserving Latin American identity.

Approximately 40 awards are distributed in the film festival. The Coral awards are for fiction, opera prima, documentary, animation, unproduced scrip and poster. Other official awards of the festival are:-

  • Audience Award
  • Amazonia Films Distribution Award (Winners can be in Fiction and Opera Prima direction categories only)
  • FIPRESCI - International Federation of Film Critics
  • Industry award
  • SIGNIS - World Catholic Assosiation for Communication
  • TeleSUR Award
  • UNICEF - United Nations Childrens Fund

For an overview of some of the best Cuban films, awarded and all, turn to our section of recommended Cuban films.

In addition to film screenings in Havana, the city also sees workshops and conferences taking place throughout the city, particulary in the old town and Vedado areas.

Some of Hollywood's finest can be found in Havana for the film festival, including Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert de Niro and Pedro Almodóvar to name just a few.

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