Dozens of filmmakers dressed up as zombies early on Sunday “attacked” the Cuban town of San Antonio de los Baños, where for the past four years the only procession of the living dead has been held on the island.
People costumed as the zombies of priests, clowns, drunkards, doctors and regular people wandered through the town’s central streets, scaring the locals with groans and cries and splashing “blood” onto curious onlookers after getting off a bus provided by Cuba’s International Film School, or EICTV.
That institution, which is based in the town, four years ago launched the march of the living dead as a way of integrating the school into the community and paying tribute to horror films.
The first edition of the event only attracted 12 of the townspeople, but it has been growing in popularity and now is a much-anticipated diversion, said one of the procession’s coordinators and a professor at the school, Colombian Andres Buitrago.
A group of 80 students, professors and graduates of EICTV on Friday began the show and wrapped up their party a few hours later with the screening of short horror films on one of the town’s central plazas.
By showing the short features, the organizers said they wanted to honor the school’s 25 years in operation, an anniversary that will be celebrated in December, and they decided to share with the public some of the works in the horror genre that the institution has produced.
EICTV, founded in 1986, is considered to be the most important academic project of the New Latin American Film Foundation, based in Havana and headed by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The institution has some 800 graduates around the world and has made San Antonio de los Baños into the most filmed town in Cuba, given that its stories and locations appear in many of the works produced by the students.
Costa Rica’s Marcos Machado, one of the coordinators of the procession, emphasized that this event is the largest zombie march in Cuba and it is not a common activity in the country, although it remains to be seen whether “some day the virus spreads to other communities.”
“It has nothing to do with Halloween. The zombie processions in all countries have a specific connotation, in some it’s a way of saying no to violence, of having young people seek their own space, but others are (held) at film, horror or music festivals,” he said.
In Cuba, where there is no tradition of celebrating Halloween, the living dead are only just starting to become more popular.
This year, the island’s first zombie film was released, entitled “Juan de los muertos” (Juan of the dead) and directed by Cuban Alejandro Brugues, a graduate of EICTV.
The film tells the story of a zombie invasion in Havana, where a Cuban starts a business to make money from the situation and free the local residents from that “crisis.”
This article originally appeared in the Latin American Herald Tribune