Opening 30 Mar 2006
The Cuban born Spanish film director Benito Zambrano has created his second feature length film, the first being Solas, about his beloved Cuba, where he received his degree in film making. Understanding that the energy and passion of Cuba is shown best through its music, he has created a format to show the new Cuban music scene – an energetic mix of samba, salsa and blues.
“I couldn’t possibly deal with a story that would be a vague criticism of Cuban reality.....I felt like writing a story which was based on concrete reality and then expanded it into issues as universal as possible, and entertaining at the same time,” states Zambrano.
Through the personal story of struggling musicians Ruy and Tito, the difficult issues of emigration, family, separating and the different responsibilites of men and women are explored. While preparing for an upcoming concert, Ruy and Tito learn that Spanish producers are in Cuba looking for new talent – it could be the chance of their lifetime to leave the island and obtain worldwide recognition. But at what personal costs to both of them and their families?
The scenes of normal Cuban life may be more familiar to Europeans than to Americans, as Americans are still living under a strict embargo and cannot legally enter Cuba. Cuba's baseball team presently cannot even receive visas to attend the World Baseball playoffs in Puerto Rico, a territory of the U.S. It is a special privilege to be given a glimpse of the real Cuban scene today – young and vibrant, with the raw edge of frustration. Ruy and Tito ride in a 1954 red Chevy convertible, selling straw hats and cigarettes to tourists, and dream of being discovered and going to Spain, while Tito’s wife Caridad beads necklaces for extra cash and dreams of escaping with her children to Florida. But their love for the island, the music and for their friends and families is strong and difficult to leave behind.
Benito Zambrano has painted a fresh picture of the real Cuba, one that is often easily stereotyped. A touching story with almost two hours of great music – Cuba libre!! (Patricia Ritz)