Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Seven Days in Havana

I was so excited to go and see this film. I really liked “Paris Je t’aime” (2005) and “New York, I love you” (2008) and this movie looked like it was kind of the same idea but in my home town. Finally, last night I watched it at Le Noveau Latina theatre in Paris.

First of all, I found it interesting because it was a film about Cuba and I am always curious to see how they are going to portray the Cuban reality. I cannot say I liked all the seven shorts but each of them did a good job in showing a bit of Havana’s craziness. My favourite ones were day 1 “El Yuma” (Dir: Benicio del Toro) and day 6 “Dulce Amargo” (Dir: J.C Tabío). I also liked how somehow some of these characters are related.

Here are my quick notes about each of them:

Day 1: Monday “El Yuma” – Dir: Benicio del Toro

I enjoyed listening to Kelvis Ochoa and Descemer Bueno’s music, seeing the crème de la crème of Cuban actors (Vladimir Cruz, Daisy Granados, Manuel Porto and Luis Alberto Garcia). The humour was excellent. It was funny to see how Cubans reacted when meeting an American tourist. The American character (Josh Hutcherson) had no clue about what was really going on around him other than cigars, music and rhum, usually what people know about the island. Coming from abroad is hard to understand why you need to borrow eggs from your neighbour or why you need to drive a taxi if you are an engineer…

Day 2: Tuesday “Jam Session” – Dir: Pablo Trapero

Emir Kusturica’s acting was hilarious. Was he even acting? Who knows? His driver is an amazing jazz musician who seems to have lost faith in making a professional career with his trumpet. Like many other musicians, he hopes to get financial help and contacts to record a CD.

Day 3: Wednesday “La tentación de Cecilia” – Dir: Julio Medem

The story of a talented singer (Melvis Estevez) who gets an offer to go to work in Spain. She has a Cuban boyfriend who will stay behind if she chooses to leave the country. At the same time, the Spanish man who is offering her the contract (Daniel Bruhl) falls in love with her. Bruhl’s acting was good but I think that the singer’s role was not brilliant. Melvis Estevez is really a singer, known for the vocals in Sexto Sentido and Interactivo, other than that… she should continue singing. We will remember the short for the amount of nude scenes but not for the story/acting itself.

Day 4: Thursday “Diary of a Beginner” Elia Suleiman

A Palestinian came to Havana to interview a Cuban figure. He observes while he waits. The monotony of each day makes the time go slower, the episodes get repeated over and over and Castro’s speech on TV is everywhere and never ends.

Day 5: Friday “Ritual” Gaspar Noé

The short starts with a group of teenagers wearing school uniforms and dancing reggaeton outdoors. One girl feels attracted to another girl while they are dancing together. The Ritual clearly shows the presence and practice of Cuban Afro – religion to “fix” things. A teenager girl gets a “cleaning” that as per the parents, will stop her from liking girls.

Day 6: Saturday “Dulce Amargo” Juan Carlos Tabío

A psychiatrist woman (Mirta Ibarra) has a second job baking sweets. Her daily life is full of stress as she has to cope with the common difficulties in Cuba: blackouts, lack of basic food products. Her alcoholic husband (Jorge Perugorria), is lost but trying to help her. The breakdown comes when they find out that their daughter has left Cuba on a raft, heading to Florida.

Day 7: Sunday “La Fuente” Laurent Cantet

Another story showing the religion revival in communist Cuba. Or was it always there but well hidden due to persecution?. A very religious woman had a dream. She needs to celebrate the biggest party for the virgen and to build an altar with a small indoor pool surrounding it. She calls all the neighbours to ask for help. The party needs to be celebrated that same night. Her apartment is falling apart but for this party they need to paint it , to put a wall down, to find tiles for the pool… Everything gets “resolved under the table” and in a crazy Cuban way. At the party, all the neighbours are there and they sing Christian and Afro – Cuban songs as Virgen de la Caridad and Ochun are the same. The most illogical story if you do not know Cuba at all.


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