Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

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Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

Postby hengcs » Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:21 am

Director: Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti
Cast: Jorge Milo, Mal Tarrau Broche

This film was the official submission by Cuba to Oscar 2006.

The official website

The film revolves around two kids who are good friends from diverse family backgrounds, with mothers who are "enemies". As the girl's mother intend to move overseas, the kids embark on a journey to prevent it from happening ...

My thoughts ...

-- The film begins with the children playing a game of war (and peace) ... ha ... while it can be construed as simply a children's game (so as to pave the way for a boy vs girl antagonism), I do think that it can also be perceived as a hint to "war and peace" at the individual level, the family level and national level ...
... at the individual level, the film will make you chuckle at those good young days ... i believe all of us would recall how guys and gals used to argue/quarrel with each other ... this is always fun to watch, given that when they grow old, they learn to like and marry each other ...
... at the family level, the contrast is very apparent (becos the film revolves around two families whereby the mothers are at loggerheads (due to societal's discrimination by status) but the two kids are very good friends ... the irony sets in later, when the mothers learn to be friends, but the children become enemies ...)
... at the national level, it is less apparent but i do believe that the setting of the story, the background of the two families, and the girl's family intention to move abroad (in contrast to the directors' beautiful depiction of Cuba) provide hint of the message at the national level ...

-- The director's effort in "art direction" is very apparent (and commendable) as some of the shots are very well taken or choreographed ... Likewise, his effort in "contrasts" are also very stark ... he literally lay the scenes next to each other or intermix them such that any audience will immediately notice the irony/opposites/contrasts ... it can be good (becos the message gets across clearly) or it may be bad (becos it is kind of blatant/too intentional) ...

-- In terms of casting, I think the young cast did a decent job ... As for the adult cast, we have to understand that it is a comedy/drama, so some of the expressions may be slightly exaggerated ...

-- Finally, some people may be delighted by the occasional "non real" (i.e., digitized images) while others might find it jarring to a "drama" ... nonetheless, it is all about kids and their world ... so be more forgiving ...

Above average.
A light hearted film that has a nice Cuban music and good overall message about friendship ...

Also, I guess audience will be talking about how the film ends ...
Want to know how the film ends? Watch it ...
hee hee

Re: Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Jun 17, 2006 4:42 am

Did you watch this film at a film festival?

Re: Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

Postby hengcs » Sun Jun 18, 2006 1:57 am

the Singapore Cuban Film Festival.

Re: Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

Postby justindeimen » Fri Jul 07, 2006 6:16 am

Here's my review on it.

Having only seen a handful of Cuban films in my day, I was starting to get familiar with the heavy-handed approach that wielded together both the narrative and its requisite reflection on Cuban politics. However, with Viva Cuba I was surprised to find a relatively low-key and touching portrayal of a group that has been largely ignored by its native filmmakers. Its about the current Cuban exodus that is observed through the eyes of 2 children.

While acclaimed in the festival circuit, it most notably won the Grand Prix at Cannes for the best childrens fare and was Cubas official submission to the Academy Awards last year. Helmed by Juan Carlos Cremata, a successful Cuban director with a controversial past, Viva Cuba is less an indictment of flawed USA-Cuban relations than it is about the lives of its characters, the duo of Malu (Mal Tarrau Broche) and Jorgito (Jorge Milo). They are 11-year-old classmates and best friends at the brink of their burgeoning adolescence who are being kept apart by their families. Jorgito comes from a poor, working class background with strong roots in the Cuban communist revolution while Malus family is staunchly Catholic, well-off and relentlessly bourgeois.

As circumstances unfold for Malu starting with her grandmother passing away, her mother makes a decision to immigrate to the US to marry her boyfriend. Unwilling to give up her life in Cuba and her friendship with Jorgito, Malu resolutely makes up her mind to travel to the other end of Cuba to convince her estranged father to refuse signing the obligatory papers for her impending migration.

Fundamentally, its a sincere ode to a simple time in everyones lives, when nothing was impossible with the innocence and sincerity of youth. The director stoops down to the level of the young protagonists, seeing everything as they do with the crystal-clear ingenuousness in which the film is handled makes this a very accessible and has a universal film.

Although it does not hit you over the head with its political messages, the atmosphere is heavy with topical issues such as immigration, segregation and what it means to have personal liberties. The localised issues are used as a backdrop for the 2 friends to balance their own developing perceptions of life against the reality they live in. The polarising dimensions of Cuba are evident in the families the children belong to with each having a strong, disparate political leaning and opinions of how the country should be run.

If there was an aspect of the film that was more potent and lively than its wholly convincing and precocious leads, it would be its cinematography. Showing the countrys pastoral imagery and landscapes that have been largely unseen in motion pictures could have put most travelogues to shame.

When the comedy of situations starts to come to the fore (during their journey), it shows an ardent sense of humour in Crematas young characters. As Malus own insecurities takes a more prominent role, Jorgitos role takes a turn from being her partner-in-crime to a confidant that would form the expected trajectory of his characters arc. As a childrens film, it is frank and honest with its ideas of the sociopolitical implications that Cubans face daily. Unfortunately, its short runtime seems just too fleeting especially when it dwells on its overly saccharine scenes that might hold little merit with adult audiences.

The cultural blockade in the country with its perennial opponent, the US, has an unseen but nonetheless significant impact in the lives of the Cuban children. The strive for the preservation of friendship and a unique way of life is the driving point of the film, showing the strong sense of loyalty and importance of companionship in childrens lives as well as in a larger Cuban collective. Often overshadowed by their counterparts in Spain, Mexico and Argentina, Cuban cinema is finally getting distributed in key markets and with that, the respect and attention that they rightly deserve.



I really hope this better distribution. I've seen a handful of films from Cuba and thats still more than most people have and I would like to say that the country has more to offer than just cigars or a political fodder for comedians and pundits. Beautiful nation with beautiful people.

I am most intrigued by the director's (Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti) experiences with the US government when he was younger, especially with his father. He has the eye and acumen to actually do something insightful and sharp enough with politic-centric filmmaking that could get the Cuban situation noticed by more people outside of South/North America.

Re: Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

Postby hengcs » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:19 am

nice to see u here ...
now, i have less pressure to write reviews ... ha ha ha

Re: Viva Cuba (2005) (Cuba)

Postby justindeimen » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:56 am

hi heng

read your really insightful look into 4:30 which i agreed with mostly. im really impressed a local filmmaker managed to cram that all in. hope it was on purpose

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