A Cuban take on endless love

«Viva Cuba,» a drama about the island and its tribulations, love and family ties is opening at mainstream film theaters tomorrow, marking the film’s first public screening outside the framework of a festival. At a press conference last week, director Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti noted that «this is a family film, and not just because children act in it, but also because my entire family worked on it.» His mother has the role of producer, his brother acts, his two cousins worked as art director and musician, while his grandmother… plays the grandmother. The movie has already been awarded the Cannes 2005 Grand Prix Ecrans Juniors award, which is especially for children’s films, and has been bought for distribution in several countries. It was produced with French funds and with contributions from American producers who have not made their names public due to the political situation between Cuba and the USA. Malberti describes the movie as a children’s version of «Romeo and Juliet» which also examines the issue of immigration and, more specifically, the desire of many Cubans to emigrate. The story centers on young Malu (played by Malu Tarre Broche) and Jorgito (Jorgito Milo Avila), two children who are best friends and take an oath to never be separated. But, their families’ differences threaten to tear them apart, as Malu’s upper-class, Christian single mother finds Jorgito’s family too commonplace to associate with her daughter, and Jorgito’s mother, a proud, working-class socialist also sees the divide as prohibitive to their friendship. When the children learn that Malu’s mother has plans to leave Cuba, they embark on a long road trip across the country – by bus, hitchhiking and walking – to find Malu’s father and ask him to put a stop to the move by not signing the «exit authorization» required. Dilemma «Everything is political,» said Malberti. «To stay in Cuba or to go is a dilemma that existed even before the revolution. Being so close to the United States, and so small in size compared to it, creates a lot of conflicts, both political and on an individual level.» Malberti graduated from the cinema, theater and drama program of the Higher Institute of the Arts in Havana. He began his career as an actor, writer and director of children’s television programs. He directed the television film «Diana» (1988) and the short film «Oscuros rinocerontes enjaulados» (1990). His first feature film, «Nothing More» (2002) – a playful commentary on the cumbersome bureaucracy of Cuba – was screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2002, while «Viva Cuba» is his second feature film. Malberti says that he is planning another two films in the future, titled «Never» and «Nobody,» which will form a trilogy together with «Nothing More.»