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Habana Blues

Director: Benito Zambrano

Spain-Cuba-France| 2006. Dolby Digital Stereo. 115 min


The second film from Spanish director Benito Zambrano (Solas), this is a lively musical journey through the streets and clubs of Havana that’s a million miles (and years) removed from The Buena Vista Social Club. It follows two young musicians, Tito (Roberto Sanmartin) and Ruy (Alberto Yeol), as they struggle to succeed— even survive—through their music. Ruy lives with his grandmother (the wonderful Zenia Marabal), a famed Cuban singer, Tito with the almost-estranged mother of his two kids. The arrival of two Spanish music producers seeking talent stirs things up in the tight community of young musicians.
Director Zambrano, who attended film school in Cuba, provides an enjoyably anarchic love letter to the never-say-die spirit of Cubans and to music as a way of life. The story is very basic, but the music is terrific. For a change, the musicians here are not aged men who play the Cuban son, but young guys who like to play rock and blues. The film shows that modern Cuban music comes in many different forms, from hip hop to blues.

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