HAVANA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- The 39th edition of the New Latin American Film Festival of Havana opened here Friday night with an aim to highlight the cultural diversity in Latin America and the Caribbean region.
The film festival, which will run until Dec. 17, will showcase more than 400 movies among which over 300 are Latin American films.
The countries most represented at the event are Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and the United States, and 34 percent of the competing films are directed by women.
"In competition will be 19 fiction feature films, 18 short and medium-length films, 18 (from) first-time directors, 23 documentaries and 16 animated films," said Ivan Giroud, president of the festival.
Giroud said producing films in the new digital era has become a challenge for the movie industry as social media and the Internet are new scenarios where any audiovisual piece can have a life of its own.
He referred to the festival's transformations since its first edition in 1979 and said film industries in Latin America including Cuba must adapt to the new times.
"Time has passed, the world has changed, Cuba is immersed in reforms and the festival also changes. It's an event that has transformed throughout time motivated by different circumstances and it has been a long struggle of which we have come out strong," he said.
At the opening gala, the festival presented an honorary award to Brazilian filmmaker Carlos Dieguez, who sent a video message as he could not be present in Havana for personal reasons.
The Brazilian movie "The film of my life," directed by Selton Mello and produced by Carlos Dieguez, was presented to over 5,000 people that attended the event at Havana's Karl Marx Theater.
Founded in 1979, the New Latin American Film Festival of Havana aims to disseminate cinematographic works to enrich Latin American and Caribbean cultural identity.
Participants throughout its history include Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and other famous actors and directors such as U.S. director Francis Ford Coppola, U.S. actors Robert Redford and Harry Belafonte, U.S. actress Geraldine Chaplin, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and Spanish actress Victoria Abril, among others.