Viva Cuba is about two best friends who are in danger of being separated forever run away from home. The friendship between two children is threatened by their parents' differences. Malu is from an upper-class family and her single mother does not want her to play with Jorgito, as she thinks his background coarse and commonplace. Jorgito's mother, a poor socialist proud of her family's social standing, places similar restrictions on her son. What neither woman recognizes is the immense strength of the bond between Malu and Jorgito. When the children learn that Malu's mother is planning to leave Cuba, they decide to travel to the other side of the island to find Malu's father and persuade him against signing the forms that would allow it.
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Viva Cuba was shown at the Toronto Film Festival - Sept 8 to 18, 2005
Programme: CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA
Director: Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti
Time: 80 minutes
Film Types: Colour/35mm
My kids loved this film when they saw it on DVD. On my wife's side they had grandparents who had escaped from Cuba. The kids loved listening to the stories their abuela and abuelo would tell them whenever we visited them in Florida. Several years ago we returned from a school break visit to Florida to a disaster in our basement apartment in Brooklyn. A major nor'easter had struck the east coast while we were away, and I feared for our precious oriental rugs. The water damage was extensive enough for me to have to do a search for oriental carpet & rug cleaning to handle the cleanup and remediation that was obviously necessary. The company we found immediately responded to my call which my insurance appraiser later told me helped minimize the damage, as well as the cleaning and restoration costs. Three months later when our apartment was once again habitable I knew I had made the right choice. I had neighbors who were still dealing with mold issues, something that our service handled for us so that it didn't result in major problems. While I was unpacking I found the Viva Cuba DVD and decided to watch it again with the family last night. It was as enjoyable this time as the first. If you haven't seen it, you can rent it on Netflix where it has many 3 and 4 star reviews.
This was a 4 star comment: Enjoyable and entertaining movie on three levels: first, a charming tale of friendship between two high-spirited pre-teens, who are like brother sister the way they alternately fight and enjoy each other; two, a non-judgmental glimpse of the Cuban political indoctrination school kids get; and lastly, a wonderful travelogue of the Cuban cities, culture, countryside, daily life, and people in general. The story itself is a "road trip" - the two very appealing kids making their way across the entire island from Havana to lighthouse on the East end, hitching, sneaking on buses and trains, and walking. The kids are pretty good actors, the script is definitely corny at times, however, you can't help but enjoy their adventures. I had a little trouble understanding the confusing details surrounding the scam involving the jewelry bait and switch. The grandparents had been cheated out of their savings by an unscrupulous con artist who convinced them that a box full of low cost cubic zirconia rings were actually diamond rings. Cubic zirconia does indeed look very much like actual diamonds, but no self respecting adult would be fooled so easily into backing a guy who was obviously a criminal hawking cheap jewelry. The kids ended up treasuring a couple of cz rings that were lost under the porch when the bad guys were arrested, but grandpa made them give them back. I was rooting for the kids and disappointed by this outcome. I especially enjoyed the story ending, which is sort of subject to interpretation. The cinematography is just excellent - the colors, the camera angles, the travelogue aspects, the split screen and scene transition methods are all first rate. And I loved seeing all those old cars and buses, even the DDT truck with it's clouds of mosquito spray. A great PG type family film well worth DVD renting or Watch Instantly viewing.
Limited release in 2005
On DVD: Sep 4, 2007
Runtime: 79 minutes
Production Company: Quad Productions/DDC Films LLC/TVC Casa Productora/ICRT/La Colmenita/El Ingenio
Executive Producer: Eric Brach
Producer: Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky
Screenplay: Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, Manolito Rodríguez Ramírez
Cinematography: Alejandro Pérez Gómez
Editor: Angélica Salvador Alonso, Sylvie Landra
Production Designer: Guillermo Ramírez Malberti
Sound: Franklin Hernández Polanco, Diego Javier Figueroa Torres, Osmany Olivare Arias, Olivier Laurent, François Joseph Hors
Music: Amaury Ramírez Malberti, Slim Pezin
About The Film
Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti’s Nothing More was an irreverent, playful film about the burden of Cuban bureaucracy, employing light-hearted animation to treat heavy topics like migration and segregation. For his follow-up feature, Viva Cuba, Cremata Malberti again tackles localized Cuban problems, this time from the literal point of view of the country’s children. He lowers the camera to the eye level of the film’s protagonists, the darling Malú (Malú Tarrau Broche) and Jorgito (Jorgito Miló Ávila).
In a tale akin to “Romeo and Juliet,” the friendship between two children is threatened by their parents’ differences. Malú is from an upper-class family and her single mother (Larisa Vega Alamar) does not want her to play with Jorgito, as she thinks his background coarse and commonplace. Jorgito’s mother (Luisa María Jiménez Rodríguez), a poor socialist proud of her family’s social standing, places similar restrictions on her son. What neither woman recognizes is the immense strength of the bond between Malú and Jorgito. When the children learn that Malú’s mother is planning to leave Cuba, they decide to travel to the other side of the island to find Malú’s father and persuade him against signing the forms that would allow it.
Viva Cuba explores emigration and the effects it can have on children who have to leave friends and extended families behind. Often youngsters are uprooted without being consulted and then must contend with their new surroundings. In a poignant moment, Malú and Jorgito discuss when they might reunite. The viewer knows they are unlikely to ever see each other again, unless Malú’s mother finds a legal way to leave the country and can therefore be granted re-entry. The best they can hope for is to forget one another as their lives change and they face new pleasures and challenges.
Viva Cuba is a wonderful, fresh film for all ages. It touches upon many of Cuba’s contentious issues in a frank and honest manner. This is a nation in flux and, while his approach is skilled and affectionate, Cremata Malberti does not shy away from asking difficult questions.
- Diana Sanchez