For lovers of Salsa and Latin Jazz, watching THE CUBAN is a must. This movie, shot in Canada and Cuba, will be released virtually this Friday, July 31, on Laemmle Virtual Cinema.
In the story, Mina Ayoub (played by Ana Golja, also a producer of the film) is a 19-year-old pre-med student who has given up on her dreams to become a singer. As a baby, she was sent to Canada from Afghanistan to live with her aunt Bano (played by the always wonderful Shohreh Aghdash), who has high expectations for her niece. Mina now works part-time at a nursing home, where she meets Luis Garcia (Louis Gassett Jr.). Luis is “gone” most of the time. He sits in a wheelchair unwilling to talk or eat and has no visitors. One day, a poster of Benny More on the wall inspires Mina to hum a song that, to her surprise, ignites a spark in Luis. Mina knows that music can be a powerful aid for patients suffering from dementia, so she starts playing Afro-Cuban Jazz vinyls for Luis, who starts to react, remember, dance, and eventually reveal his incredible life back in Cuba as a famous musician once known as El Guitarrista. (Louis Gassett Jr., playing Luis, is really impressive. He is an African American actor born in Brooklyn, but you would never know it on account of his accent. He does a tremendous job.)
THE CUBAN was written by Alessandra Piccione and directed by Sergio Navarretta. Afro-Cuban Jazz is a most important part of the film, the soundtrack composed by Hilario Duran, an internationally respected piano performer. Musicians Alexis Baro and Alberto Alberto are also part of the work. The three of them are Cubans residing in Canada.
THE CUBAN has no boundaries as far as age, ethnicity, gender, and culture. You will see wonderful scenes filmed in Havana and learn about Cuban culture and music, just as you will learn about Afghan culture, its food, its values, presented sans fear.
This movie won the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Pan American Film Festival last year (out of 225 films). It is really a delightful film.
THE CUBAN is 109 long, in English, available to download (for $12) starting July 31.