Return to Ithaca tells the story of five friends who receive Amadeo who returns after living in Madrid for 14 years.
Cuban-French film The Return to Ithaca will be released worldwide in the 71st edition of the International Venice Film Festival, to be held from 27 August to September 6 in the city called Pearl of the Adriatic. The film will be part of the side event Venice Days featuring 14 films (whose directors range from the Spanish Alex de la Iglesia to Korean Kim Ki-duk) in contemporary tendency to reinforce alternative proposals to the official competition with films whose merits maybe escaped the discriminator criteria of selection committees.
The premiere at a festival class A, Venice, Cannes, Berlin and Toronto style, usually propel the international career of films produced in southern countries with scarce resources and Return to Ithaca is one of those small endeavors, though it is directed by Laurent Cantet , a creator installed for years among the most celebrated in France especially after Entre les murs, titled in Spanish La Clase, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes after 22 years without the Frenchmen winning the coveted award.
Already consecrated, and praised by the authorities of European cinema, Cantet is passionate about Cuba. In 2009 he came to teach at the International School of Film and Television in San Antonio de los Baños; in 2011 he joined the list of six celebrities who ran as many stories in Seven Days in Havana; knew of the work of Leonardo Padura and the idea of Return to Ithaca, which very well could be called Return to Havana emerged. Scripted by the renowned Cuban writer, and inspired by one of the most effective contemporary passages from La novela de mi vida, the film tells the story of five friends who receive Amadeo, who has lived in Madrid for the past 14 years.
Cantet has always been passionate about fictions with powerful documentary influences and on issues where the pressure of society on individuals, and the very human desire to live in harmony and equality is present. Thus, his previous films Human Resources (1999), Time Out (2001), The Class (2008) and Foxfire (2012) convey a powerful sense of truthful testimony by the free and spontaneous performances of the actors, as well and the selection of locations, and in the case of the new Cuban film includes roofs collapsed buildings and the nearby Malecon.
Cantet’s films often use a few professional interpreters working in the company of non-actors, while presenting the everyday life of the humble people about common situations that can be excellent vehicles to reflect on the strength of some pressure to assimilate context, the ability of humans to feed some utopias, and the compulsive dynamics of a group.
In Return to Ithaca, Cantet refers, from the known story of Padura, the traumas of social and political nature, suffered by average Cubans who are now between forty and fifty years. He used a technical team with outstanding creators of the island among them actors also well known as Jorge Perugorría or Isabel Santos, who shared role in another film about the return and losses of exile in Honey for Oshun, directed by Humberto Solas in 2001.
And the fact is that the issue of exile and the return has been flying over the Cuban cinema since the days of Distance (1985, Jesus Diaz) where a mother from the Miami community returns with the obvious purpose of convincing her child to accompany her; Reina y Rey (1994, Julio García Espinosa) with the former owners of a Vedado mansion that return to recover the lost maid, Family Video (2001, Humberto Padron) in which the youngest child makes the outing with his family, finally willing to “forgive” him both the exile and the homosexuality and Casa vieja (2011) with a young gay exile in Spain returning to the dilapidated family home to realize he is a stranger among his own people.
As Padura stated in several interviews, granted to the end of shooting, the film represented for him a kind of catharsis while talking about a “generation marked by the drama of exile” and refers to universal themes of “friendship, loyalty, betrayal, fear, hatred and disappointment. “The renowned author and screenwriter said Cantet has an amazing ability to turn words into film more reason for this film gains more importance as it relates thematically to “the great conflict from a generation that was scattered and frustrated, which is felt betrayed and even mistaken perceptions of reality and blamed those who were not to blame.”
When disclosed the topic and intentions of Return to Ithaca, inevitably comes to mind that celebrated poem by Greek Constantin Cavafy, especially those verses where it reads “Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey. Without it you would not have set out. But it has nothing to give you. Although you find it poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you have become, with so much experience, I understand what the Ithacas mean “. Surely in December, in the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, we can see the film by Laurent Cantet, inspired by the novel by Leonardo Padura, and understand what Ithaca can mean, ie, Havana, for those away to return and to the others who were left with a half of themselves set apart by the exile.