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Havana Cultura - Part 1 - But Where’s The Rum? E-mail
News - Where We Have Just Been
Sunday, 12 August 2012 13:42

7 Days in Havana - 7 Días En La Habana - 7 Jours À La Havane 

7 Days in HavanaOur recent trip to Cuba may have been focused around the Cocktail Grand Prix, but the week took in quite a few rum related experiences as well.  Havana Cultura is something I’d seen on the internet, but really hadn’t taken the time to investigate, but there was no way the Havana Club team were going to let us leave without sharing some the exciting expressions of Cuban art and culture that they are helping to promote.

Given the number of international bartenders, groupies and general hangers-on, the team at Havana Club may have felt like they were trying to herd semi-inebriated cats at times.  And with TheFloatingRumShack.com more interested in sitting somewhere sunny and drinking something with rum in it we (OK… me!) probably weren’t that fussed about viewing some art of the stationary, wall based variety, however we had to admit that some of it was pretty cool.  A visit to the gallery was part of the trip to the rum museum and so we got ‘cultured’ without realising or having the chance to resist…

We were also scheduled to go and see a film called 7 Days in Havana, a film that was part of the Havana Cultura project.  I was just a little worried it was going to be a bit pretentious– but fear not – it was in fact a highlight of the trip that I will look back on with fondness.

The very essence of Havana Cultura is too broad to be pinned to the page of this poor, clumsy blog – but with the help of François Rennie, the Communications Director for Havana Club International S.A. we think we may have captured a little of what it means.  To ‘enjoy’ our finely crafted, expertly dissected interview, you’ll need to wait until Part 2 of this article.

7 Days in Havana 

7 Days in Havana celebrates the eclectic and vibrant Cuban city of Havana and is told through a single feature-length film of seven chapters.  Each story is directed by an internationally acclaimed director: Benicio del Toro, Laurent Cantet, Julio Medem, Pablo Trapero, Gaspard Noé, Elia Suleiman, and Juan Carlos Tabío.

Each chapter captures a day of the week through the daily ordinary and extraordinary lives of its characters.  It aims to express the diverse soul of the city in a touching, entertaining and funny style.  The film embodies the unique and inspiring attitude that reflects the true values of the Cuban capital - humanity, spontaneity and creativity.  It also gives you an idea of the restrictions the people have to live within, the long days and hard work that many have to endure to make ends meet and the many facets of religion and belief, interwoven from the varied backgrounds of its people.  It’s also a beautiful snapshot of the Cuban sense of humour

7 Days in Havana

7 Days in Havana 

All the seven stories have independent plots, but there are many connections between them, helping to create a feeling of dramatic unity.  The common locations contribute to this idea: emblematic places of Havana like the Old Havana, the Malecón or the Hotel Nacional are the scenery for some of the chapters.  Several characters appear in more than one story, a main character in one chapter becomes secondary in another and so on, subtly connecting the stories to show that in Havana all social spheres interfere, run parallel and are intertwined at various times of the week.  Having watched the film, I wish I’d had the time to see more of the city – but I guess that this is just a great excuse to head back.

7 Days in Havana 

I can find the beauty in pretty much all things - art has the means to inspire conversation or argument, but a person’s perspective on a subject depends on the point from which they are viewing it – you might not love everything in the Cultura project, but then that’s art for you!  I kidded our Facilitator that whilst everyone else went into the rather cool Cine Riviera to watch the film, I might pop along to the bar on the corner of the street as I was worried the film might be a monologue on white washed tables and strategically placed plates…

I’m really glad I didn’t though – 7 Days in Havana turned out to be the most wonderful and inspiring film I’ve seen for ages…   It was simple in terms of plot, but beautifully shot and wonderfully captivating.  Seven individual stories that wove together cleverly, overlapping at times in terms of characters and story lines.  Happy, sad, dramatic, crazy and sad again – my emotions rose and fell, but I loved it – it brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion and laughs to counterpoint the sadness.

7 Days in Havana

7 Days in Havana 

Having been on the ground in Cuba for only six days, I hardly think I can offer social commentary on the Cuban people - but right there and then, the film spoke to me about what it might be to be Cuban.  Some of the other experiences I enjoyed on the trip spoke volumes about what it might mean to be Cuban as well and the line between film and trip blurred on more than one occasion.  Perhaps the empathy I shared with a few of the characters drew me in deeper than others might experience, but I’m sure everyone will take something from the film.

Interestingly, an image of Cuba was nearly fulfilled in the showing.  The day before, we were informed that we might only be watching four days out of seven due to a problem with the equipment and in reality I’m really glad that the team managed to squeeze out a few more days – we ended up watching the first six out of seven days and ended up leaving Cuba not knowing how the film ended which actually was a shame.

7 Days in Havana

7 Days in Havana 

Rolling the clock forward to just a couple of weeks ago, TheFloatingRumShack.com met up with our Facilitator (*) and travel companion Hamish who works for Drinks International to see 7 Days in Havana at the Odeon, Leicester Square.  The film still brought a tear to my eye even though I knew what was coming and because I knew what was coming I was able to pick up on so many more subtle cross links between chapters.  Really happy to have seen it again and looking forward to the next time.

7 Days in Havana 

Oh, and if you’ve read this article in the hope that there will be a rum reference or two, then I’m sorry to disappoint.  I myself was surprised that Havana Club didn’t make more of a presence during the film.  A small visual reference two perhaps three times and that was it.  Strange really as when we walked around Old Havana it was almost impossible to avoid seeing Havana Club references!  I suspect the filmmakers may have removed more than a few references from the background during filming.

We think you should make some time to see the film – go and get a little Cultura in your life…


Continues in part 2 






7 Days in Havana 

(*) who normally goes by the name of Paloma Salmeron Planells and can be found doing an excellent job at Richmond Towers Communications Ltd.



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