VIFF 2014: Behavior bravely reveals the hardships of a boy's Havana life

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      Behavior (Cuba)

      It’s an understatement to say it's rare to see a movie so openly take on Cuba’s social problems and poverty—a movie that's made in Cuba, that is. In this vision of a beautifully derelict Havana, an 11-year-old boy named Chala struggles to support himself and his single, alcoholic mother, raising carrier pigeons and dogfighting, eventually getting kicked out of school. The only one on his side is a caring older teacher who fights to keep the boy out of “re-education” detention despite the ire of government workers. In a subplot, Chala befriends another outsider, an illegal “internal immigrant” from elsewhere in Cuba who lives in a shack with her father. The film is a bit rough around the edges (despite some grittily colourful barrio rooftop scenes), but what it lacks in technical polish it makes up for in sheer courage. Rather than a polemic, it's a sympathetic close-up look at the human fallout of some of Cuba’s more dogmatic policies.

      Rio, October 7 (9:30 p.m.), Playhouse, October 9 (1:30 p.m.)