Idalmis Garcia’s ‘Conducta’ makes U.S. premiere in NYC

“Conducta” has been drawing huge audiences in Cuba.

Actress Idalmis Garcia had moved to New York City by the time her latest movie became a box-office hit — in her native Cuba.

She’ll get an opportunity to bask in the success of “Conducta” on Thursday when the highly anticipated film makes its U.S. premiere at the opening night of the Havana Film Festival of New York. It’s one of 24 Cuban films (out of a total 44) being shown in the festival, which is now in its fifteenth year and remains the only major pan-Latino movie fest in the city.

“That’s exciting,” Garcia, who turns 32 in a few days, said in an interview this week. “I just want people to see the connection, to connect with some other reality that is totally different and understand it a bit.”  

“Conducta,” which translates as “Behavior,” explores the relationship of a marginalized 11-year-old Chala and his sixth-grade teacher in Havana. Movie reviewer Stephen Holden of The New York Times described the film, directed by Ernesto Daranas, as “touching” and “clearheaded.” In Cuba, the film has become something of a phenomenon since its January premiere, with audiences crowding cinemas to see the film and even official government newspapers praising its exploration of difficult themes.

Garcia has a small but important role in the film as the head of the school where the story takes place.

“It’s a very social film,” she said. “It talks a lot about our reality now and education.”

She said she was hired by the film’s director initially to help with the casting of the film before she was offered the part she ultimately played. “Of course, I take it,” she said.

Garcia moved to New York City in August to try to expand her career; while she’s had roles in several movies and on television in Cuba, she’s an unknown outside of her native country.

“I’m thinking of me as an actress in a global term,” she said, eyeing possibilities to work both here and in Europe. “That’s my goal.”

The Havana Film Festival of New York runs April 3 to 11. A full program is available on the fest’s website. Besides opening night, Conducta is being shown on Saturday at Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St.

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