In 1996, Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, British producer Nick Gold, and American guitarist Ry Cooder convened in Havana to produce a Cuban-Malian collaboration. When the Malians couldn’t get visas, the team turned their attention to reviving a forgotten generation of legendary son cubano musicians and formed an on-the-fly ensemble: the Buena Vista Social Club. Two decades since that fateful first session, we catch up to these master musicians, as they reflect on the magical unfolding of their lives—from humble origins to the evolution and surprising revival of their careers, all against the backdrop of Cuba’s dramatic history. Brimming with unseen concert, rehearsal, and archival footage, this film is an emotional, shimmering celebration of music’s power to transcend age, ideologies, and class, and to connect us to each other through our souls.
Yuli is the nickname given to Carlos Acosta by his father, Pedro, who considers him the son of Ogun, an African god and a fighter. As a child Yuli avoids discipline and education, learning from the streets of an impoverished and abandoned Havana. His father, however, has other ideas, and knowing that his son has a natural talent for dance, sends him to the National Ballet School of Cuba. Despite his repeated escapes and initial poor behaviour, the boy is inevitably drawn to the world of dance, and begins to shape his legendary career from a young age, becoming the first black dancer to be cast in some of the most prestigious ballet roles, originally written for white dancers, in companies such as the Houston Ballet or the Royal Ballet in London.
When Spanish record producers express interest in Cuban musicians Ruy and Tito, the longtime friends are faced with the prospect of leaving their loved ones behind. After years of hoping and dreaming, they’ve finally earned the opportunity to bring their music to the rest of the world. But are the emotional trade-offs worth it in the end?
Two young, strong-willed Scottish sisters, one a left-wing activist, the other a most-popular-girl-in-school type, take their late father’s ashes to Cuba, the site of many family legends of his services to the Revolution. Arriving in Havana, the two women promptly lose the ashes and go through a series of misadventrues – both romantic and dangerous – to try to retrieve them. A colourful and wryly humourous tale of cross-cultural misunderstandings and lost illusions.
At a rundown bus station in rural Cuba, the line of passengers waiting just keeps getting longer. The problem is that every bus that passes by is already full. Their only hope is to wait for the station’s bus to be fixed. As the disparate group settles in, relationships start forming between the passengers: Emilio, a young engineer, becomes smitten with a beautiful young woman who is en route to meet her Spanish fiancé, a blind man gets support from the others to go to the head of the line. Frustration and disorder reign when the one bus brakes down and no one can leave. Resigned to working together, the group magically transforms the station into a beautiful place where no one wants to leave.
In Havana, Raul dreams of escaping to Miami. Accused of assault, he appeals to Elio to help him reach the forbidden world 90 miles across the ocean. One night, full of hope, they face the biggest challenge of their lives.
Cuba is not a country for young gays. Teen rent boy Reinier falls in love with a mate in the slum soccer field at their neighbourhood in Havana. Although obsessed with moneymaking to hold up his baby, teen wife and wife’s granma, gambler Reinier always fails in getting the stoke of luck he looks for. At the same time he cannot help being infatuated by Yosvani. Handsome Yosvani will give up his wealthy -and elder- girlfriend whom he hooked to pay him a lavish life in the big city, and the works he makes for her father, a loan thug, so much in love he is with Reinier. But the boys would fight hard to keep this love in the reckless Havana streets.
Follows several of Cuba’s top drag racers as they struggle to prepare their classic American cars for the first official car race since the Cuban Revolution. It tells a personal, character-driven story that tackles how Cuba’s recent reforms have affected the lives of these racers and their vibrant community.
At the Palacio, an all-inclusive resort in the carribean, Mike’s arrival complicates the normal flow of operations. His voracious appetite, mysterious magnetism and unexpected miracles bring him the curious, among which he makes three friends and meeets a few admirers, a jealous salsa teacher and an enamored octopus. All of whom will accompany him in a gargantuan downward spiral mixing civil unrest and intestinal meltdown; a change of administration held up by the most attentive staff in the world.
Jesús, a young hairdresser, works at a Havana nightclub for drag performers, and dreams of being a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama, Jesús finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when Angel, his estranged father, abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down. The macho Angel, recently released from a 15-year stint in prison, tries to squelch his son’s ambition to perform in drag. Father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, struggling to understand one another and reconcile as a family. Shot in a gritty neighbourhood far from the Havana most tourists know, Viva is a heartrending story of music, performance and survival.
While Havana is full of zombies hungry for human flesh, official media reported that the disturbances are caused by dissidents paid by the United States. Panic seizes all until Juan comes to the rescue: he discovers he can kill the undead destroying his brain, and decides to start a small business under the slogan “We kill your loved ones.”
At the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, Cuban boxing champion Horacio’s punishment for failing a drug test is to watch over the brash, combative Daniel, a patient in a sanatorium where HIV patients are compulsorily confined. The two collide as Daniel yearns for freedom while Horacio dreams of returning to the ring.