Viva Cuba- meaning long live Cuba is a Spanish film set in modern day Cuba. It is directed by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, although I haven’t heard much about the director, I happened to catch the movie on World Movies only a few days ago.
The central characters in the movie are two twelve year olds- Malu played by Tarrau Broche and Jorgito, played by Milo Avila who are neighbors staying opposite each other geographically and likewise come from completely opposed backgrounds, Malu and her single mother are devout upper class Christians while Jorgito’s family comprises of economically lower staunch communist supporters. This is where their dislike for each other stems from with both these households making no bones about it. But Malu and Jorgito are the best of friends. However, one day out of the blue Malu has news for Jorgito, bad news. Malu’s grandmother has passed away and Malu’s mother has decided that Cuba is not the place for her. Set to leave Cuba, she wishes to go abroad and join her boyfriend. The decision crushes Malu; leaving Cuba would mean leaving her best friend Jorgito behind and never seeing him again. Here the movie makes the strict Cuban migratory laws evident, according to Cuban law, Cuban citizens are no longer recognized as the same or allowed to return once they have permanently left the country.
As Malu and Jorgito despondently sit on a rooftop and contemplate Malu’s future abroad, Jorgito has an idea. He suggests that they should go and find Malu’s father and convince him not to sign Malu’s exit authorization papers. Malu at first is not sure but she quickly agrees- after all it could be her one chance to remain in Cuba! There is only one problem however; Malu has not seen her father since she was six, besides the fact that he lives on the other end of the island. All the same both of them decide to find him- from there on their journey begins.
Telling their respective mothers nothing and pretending as if it were just another ordinary school day they set off in search of Malu’s father. In the start, they walk on without realizing the implications of undertaking such a long journey but as the journey commences, the length of it takes a toll on their friendship and culminates in fight. However they make up with the help of a friend who they meet on the way. Subsequently, it is way past school time and both the mothers realize that the children have gone missing. Both being distraught over the loss of their children, freely accuse each others kids of being the perpetrators of the plan. However it is this same grief over the children which make both the mothers bond. This part of the film made me realize how any barrier can be broken; all that it needs is a unifying human emotion. Later, both the families decide to set out together and find their children.
There are close misses- they even pass the children at a checkpoint, when the children hide safe in their friend’s motorcycle’s sidecar. Finally the children make it to Punta Maisi the place where Malu’s father stays; this scene becomes an emotional reunion between father and daughter. But no sooner than father and daughter unite, they are interrupted by their mothers who’ve now caught up with them. A huge fight erupts between all the parents-those few fleeting moments of unity have been lost as quickly as they were made! While the fight is on, the children vanish away from their parents and to the shore line (many beautiful beaches in Cuba let me add), where they envelope each other in a tight hug- as if no force could ever pull them apart. The movie ends right about here; there’s a little bit more to the ending which makes it rather ambiguous and open to viewer interpretation.
I liked the movie because it takes a look at modern day Cuba through the eyes of two young children. Also the comparison between the children and parents is evident. The children are friends despite their disparities, crossing the gap of the vast social difference between them, while their parents lag behind by not being able to bridge the very same difference. Watching this film was also good education- it gave me insight to Cuban laws, people etc and showed me that Cuba is really such a pretty country!
The movie won quite a few awards and even won the Grand Prix Ecrans Juniors at Cannes. However I’d have to admit, if it weren’t for the channel World Movies I doubt I would have even come to know of its existence. If you all have the time, spare some for this channel on television, it plays some really good films and I can assure you it’s addictive.