Havana Film Festival December 7-14, 2015

This special VIP trip coincides with the Havana Film Festival, which hosts film screenings, conferences, and special events. Copperbridge Foundation founder Geo Darder introduces you to writers, directors, and actors participating in the festival.

Hosted by Art Encounter & Copperbridge Foundation
Escorted by Art Ambassador Gwenda Joyce (** see below for Miami Basel pre-trip option)

Cost:  $4350 pp, $350 single supplement

TRIP ITINERARY (subject to change)

Day 1 ( Dec. 7): Welcome to Havana

Take a Miami/ Havana morning flight. Your knowledgeable private guide will be on hand to meet you at the airport. An air-conditioned motor coach awaits for an orientation tour. At the Plaza de Revolution discuss the immense sculpture of Jose Marti, Cuba’s national hero. At the Imperialist Plaza learn more of Cuban history when discovering another evocative sculpture of Jose Marti. See the site of the newly opened US embassy.

Get to know fellow travelers at our Welcome Lunch and tour of Old Havana.

Late afternoon check-in at the trendy Melia Cohiba Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel with stunning pools, a fitness center and a great location overlooking the Malecón,  Havana’s romantic seaside promenade. Locals and lovers alike call it “Havana’s living room”. Time permitting, relax at one of the hotel pools before our Welcome Dinner. Don’t miss an evening stroll along the Malecon!

Day 2 (Dec 8): Explore Havana and the arts

Get your local bearings this morning on a Vedado neighborhood tour. Our guide introduces you to La Rampa, famous jazz clubs and Coppelia -”the largest ice-cream parlor in the world …serving 30,000 customers a day.

Put Cuban art in context from the early days of the Revolution to the present on a guided tour of the stunning Bellas Artes Museo. A private “art encounter” discussion develops an understanding of the ideas and amazing art generated during the past 6 decades.

The rest of the day and evening, get to know the vibrant culture around Havana first hand.  Meet some of the artists whose work you just discussed in the museum. Connect with artists, dancers, photographers, teachers and musicians as we soak up the wealth of Cuban culture through the arts.

Day 3 (Dec. 9): Pinar del Rio- Las Terrazas

Travel by private coach to Las Terrazas, an eco-village in the province of Pinar del Río.Enjoy the rural scenery and tobacco fields. Visit Las Terrazas, Cuba’s first model eco-village .This self-supporting sustainable settlement dates back to a reforestation project in 1968. Today it is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve and includes La Moka, Cuba’s most authentic eco-resort. It was designed by a green architect, (Osmani Cienfuegose) whose commitment to “sustainable agriculture, environmental education, energy efficiency and a sense of harmony between buildings and landscape” is apparent today.Sample specialty Cuban coffees and handmade arts and crafts of local artisans who live in the vibrant village. Linger at lunch on the grounds of an old French coffee plantation.  Return to Havana to see a performance at La Colmenita Childrens Theater. A lively Q&A takes place after the performance.

DAY 4 (Dec 10): Art Education and Visionaries

Visit the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). Witness first-hand how Cuba’s education system promotes and provides the basis for the excellence in all the arts. Meet faculty and watch students at Cuba’s most prestigious university for artists. Watch artists at work in a variety of media: ceramics, painting, print making and photography. Engage in “art encounters” about how artists are educated and supported in their careers.

Next we go to Fusterlandia! – a small fishing town turned tiled wonderland by artist Jose Fuster and his community. Over many years Jose Fuster (known as Cuba’s Gaudi) has been transforming his neighborhood in Jaminitas with eye boggling mosaics. A man for all seasons, Fuster is an artist with a wild imagination and the ability to manifest his vision.

Meet another visionary – Pablo Menendez,who creates musical magic with his group called MEZCLA. His personal narrative is as inspiring as his music. Our intimate encounter reveals why he came to Cuba as a youngster and chose to stay. Now a Grampa, he introduces us to some of Cuba’s best musicians while sharing background on the roots of Afro Cuban music. Our private concert takes place on the rooftop concert of his home or club/art gallery recently opened by his family.

DAY 5 (Dec 11): Matanzas

Spend the day outside of Havana in the province of Matanzas. Arrive at Lolo’s collective art studio and meet with the contributing artists. Visit Ediciones Vigía and meet with the director and contributing artists of this unique bookmaking workshop.  Their works have been featured in the MOMA of New York! Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the stunning seaside DuPont Estate before returning back to Havana. Tonight we gather to watch a documentary film, Detrás del muro, with the director and contributing artists of the film. Q&A after the film.

DAY 6 (Dec 12): Cultura Cubana

Enjoy a film OR private visit with sculptor/teacher Pedro Pulido at his community arts project with local children. Meet artists who attended ISA and formed art collectives to help one another after graduating. Visit an all-male community of artists and an all-female community of artists. Get to know an exceptional artist who extends a long term commitment to mentoring his students. Compare and contrast the expectations of artists competing in art markets in Cuba and the global art market.

End the night with a special dinner event at the Guanabacoa Museum of the Orishas.

DAY 7 (Dec 13): Rhythm and Movement

Start the morning with a film and Q&A with the director.  Then we will go to Teatro Favorito (Favorite Theater) to see a performance and engage with the dancer of the Narciso Medina Community Dance Project. An amazing artist with an international reputation is our host for a private home/ studio visit and intimate “art encounter” discussion.  Enjoy a performance and Q&A with DanzAbierta, Cuba’s hottest contemporary dance company. Our festive Farewell Dinner takes place at Club Habana with musician Roberto Carcassés and his jazz band Interactivo.

Toast our new Cuban friends and the changes taking place in Cuba that we have witnessed.

DAY 8 (Dec 14): Adios Amigos!

Enjoy a quick breakfast and head to the airport to return to the United States.


The cost for the Art Encounter Havana Film Festival package is $4350./person based on double occupancy and $4700./person for single occupancy.

The package includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare Miami / Havana
  • Check – in assistance in the Miami International Airport
  • 7 nights accommodation in Havana at the 5 star Melia Cohiba Hotel
  • VIP hotel check-in
  • Airport / Hotel transfers
  • Health Insurance while in Cuba
  • Private air-conditioned coach transportation
  • Daily breakfast
  • Five lunches
  • Five dinners
  • Cuban Visa
  • People-to-People License to travel
  • Daily services of an English speaking guide
  • 2 bottles of water per day on the bus
  • Exclusive “art encounters” conducted by your Art Encounter escort
  • Private events facilitated by Copperbridge Foundation founder Geo Darder
  • All activities and exclusive events listed on itinerary

Not included: Items of a personal nature, tipping, trip cancellation insurance, baggage cost in Miami, internet or phone costs, Havana airport departure tax of 25 CUC

SIGN ME UP: $1000. non refundable deposit guarantees your reservation. Make your check payable to Art Encounter, 927 Noyes Street Studio 104, Evanston, IL 60201

If you would like more information please contact Travel Director Ellen Kamerling at eldonkam@msn.com


ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH: December 3 -7, 2015

Want to be immersed in the hubbub that throbs in Miami during Art Basel Miami? Come 4 days early and Art Ambassador Gwenda Joyce will guide you through the art maze to the studios, private collections, selected galleries and exhibitions that cause all the buzz during Art Basel. Request an itinerary and price from Art Ambassador Gwenda Joyce @415-493-6614 or click on  www.artambassador.net/tour to reserve space.