Silver Spring, Maryland
In between seeing Brazilian films this week, I thought it would be interesting to see a Cuban film. Leaving politics aside, culturally Cuba and Brazil have a lot in common. Both countries have similar ethnic mixes of people descended from Europe and Africa, both cultures are known for their music, for their resourcefulness and joyful spontaneity when faced with life’s difficulties and both countries retain their African religious rituals but combine them with Catholicism.
7 Days in Havana is a charming and colorful collection of seven vignettes with each segment comprising a day of the week. The city in all its decaying reality is on display, but so its beauty which comes through despite the fact that there is no money to maintain its buildings. A strong cast of actors — Cuban and international stars — have come together for this film. The story is based on a novel by Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura that recounts the trials and joys of day-to-day life in Havana through the eyes of tourists visiting the city. The stories focus on a love triangle, Havana’s night life and music, Serbian filmmaker and musician Emir Kusturica playing a trainwreck version of himself arriving in Havana to receive a prize, Palestinian actor and director Elia Suleiman, delightfully deadpan, wandering through Havana waiting for something to happen, a group of neighbors building an elaborate shrine in an apartment for a statue of the Virgin Mary and finally two of the lovers sailing away to Florida on a tiny raft.
All told, the movie is engrossing, lively and gives a realistic glimpse of Havana, a city I visited and enjoyed a few years ago when I traveled there with the Catholic University of America School of Architecture.