FilmFest DC’ 16 | Cine Cubano

Behavior (Conducta)

Ernesto Daranas
Cuba, 2014
108 minutes, Color

A breakout hit in Cuba, Ernesto Daranas’ Behavior has galvanized audiences with its willingness to tackle taboo topics and reveal the less picturesque realities of life on the island. Eleven-year-old Chala lives with his addict mother Sonia. To provide for the two of them, Chala raises carrier pigeons and trains fighting dogs with a man who may or may not be his biological father. School provides a stabilizing force in Chala’s life thanks to his close relationship with Carmela, his spirited teacher. When the boy is sent to a re-education facility and Carmela mounts a campaign to have him released, she becomes the target of a witch hunt spearheaded by a school board administrator who regards Carmela’s permissive beliefs as incongruent with the new Cuba. The idealistic, strong-willed woman remains defiant, leading to a conflict in which one boy’s future reflects the systemic dynamics of contemporary Cuba.—Toronto International Film Festival (In Spanish with English subtitles)



Ron Chapman
Canada, 2016
96 minutes, Color

In Person: Director Ron Chapman

The amazing diversity of contemporary Cuban music is gorgeously explored in Ron Chapman’s third documentary feature. With this ambitious new film, Chapman captures the full gamut of what’s happening now in Cuba. We meet the most exciting artists and experience the distinct musical scenes they move in, from classic song and salsa to trova, nueva trova, reggaton, rock, jazz, metal, rap, electronic, classical, choral, pop, changu, danzón, rumba, yoruba, bolero, conga, timba, mambo, and more. The film’s wonderful soundtrack comprises music new and old; the sounds of modern iconoclasts and the immortal music of the old guard. This is a one-of-a-kind journey into the heart and soul of a sonic culture like no other, a place where music is cultivated and thrives through the enduring desire of its people to forge a sound that is all their own.—Miami International Film Festival (In Spanish with English subtitles)

Paddy Breathnach
Ireland, Cuba, 2015
100 minutes, Color

An Irish film shot in Cuba, in Spanish, this rousing, cross-cultural crowd-pleaser is set in Havana, in what one character aptly calls “the most beautiful slum in the world.” In a drag club in the city, impoverished 18-year-old hairdresser Jesus (Héctor Medina) maintains the wigs of the drag performers and dreams of taking the stage himself. His first performance is disrupted by an unruly man in the audience—Jesus’ father, an ex-boxer just out of prison, whom he hasn’t seen for 15 years. The macho, homophobic father moves in with his effeminate, abandoned son, and thus begins a remarkable father-and-son story. Paddy Breathnach’s irresistible movie was the surprise hit of the Telluride Film Festival. He has discovered an extraordinary talent in Héctor Medina, and the father is played by veteran Jorge Perugorría, who starred in the groundbreaking Cuban classic Strawberry and Chocolate more than 20 years ago.—Toronto International Film Festival (In Spanish with English subtitles)