Havana (AFP)

Colored facades, obsolete signs, titles of movies displayed manually: the old cinemas of Havana are more than a handful but continue to charm tourists and moviegoers.

On the occasion of the Latin American Film Festival, held in the Cuban capital from December 5 to 15, an AFP photographer immortalized these institutions, whose numbers have fallen in recent decades.

Of the 106 screening rooms inventoried in 1977, only 20 remain, for 2.1 million inhabitants, according to the Statistical Yearbook of Cuba.

Just like the old American sedans that criss-cross Havana every day, these cinemas seem straight out of the 40's or 50's, often with the titles of the films displayed, letter by letter, on their facades.

The economic crisis of the 1990s due to the disappearance of the Soviet Union - the famous Special Period - has condemned to death a large number of cinemas, whose buildings damaged by time are sometimes still visible today.

As for those who remain, the lack of resources to repair or modernize the projection equipment, as well as the need to save electricity have only prolonged their agony. They usually only work from Wednesday to Sunday, late afternoon and evening.

It is not that the Cubans have lost the taste of dark rooms, they are still very likely to go there, encouraged by low rates, within the framework of the socialist policy of democratization of culture.

For the festival, moviegoers can buy a subscription of ten seats for the equivalent of 42 cents.

"I've been to a lot of festivals around the world and, honestly, it's very difficult to find a place where the desire to see cinema is as striking and spectacular as in Cuba," said the popular actor. Argentinian Ricardo Darin inaugurating the festival on Thursday night.

The island suffers however from a lack of films, for lack of means to buy them on the international market and because of the American embargo, applied since 1962, which forbids him to acquire from this country.

But in Cuba, circumventing the embargo, including piracy, is a national sport and it is not uncommon to see appear on Havanese screens a film just released in Hollywood.

© 2019 AFP