Country: Cuba Running Time: 100min Production Year: 2014
Language: Spanish Subtitles: English Category: Opening Night Gala Original Title: CONDUCTA
Behavior (Conducta) is one of the most mature, complex dramatic films to come out of Cuba in some time, and it’s all the more impressive in that it is only director Ernesto Daranas’ second dramatic feature film. The story centers on Chala (Armando Valdes Freire), a Havana boy on the cusp of adolescence, scraping by with few positive role models. He illegally trains fight dogs after school to support his addict mother, doesn’t know who his father is, but his one solid moral compass is the wise Carmela (veteran Cuban star Alina Rodriguez), his elderly sixth grade teacher.
When a health scare lands Carmela in the hospital, however, a substitute teacher from a younger generation quickly clashes with Chala and his troubled personality, leading Chala to be committed to a reform school where his behavior will be “modified”. When Carmela returns to work and discovers Chala missing, her attempt to have Chala released sets up a chain reaction among the school leaders. Daranas takes a moral bird’s-eye-view of all the participants, and lets his characters’ behavior demonstrate the value struggle between the ideas of different generations in Havana today. – Jaie Laplante