Writing about “7 Days in Havana” for the World Film Locations: Havana book

Hi all! With this blog post, we are even closer to finalizing the draft manuscript for World Film Locations: Havana.  Recent work has focused around the non-text portion of the book, specifically the Biographies and “Go Further” sections.  I have been compiling contributing authors’ bios, translating them to English (if originally in Spanish), and discovering new Cuban Film resources for “Go Further,” a short end-of-book chapter on ways to immerse oneself in Cuba’s cinematic culture from home.  Most significantly, I have created an additional scene description piece about the recent film “7 Days in Havana” [7 Días en La Habana].  The film offers a fascinating glimpse into contemporary Havana life, and features an incredibly unique cinematic structure.  It is divided into 7 chapters, each directed by a different international director.  The nationalities of the directors range from Cuban to American to Palestinian to French, producing a rich, diverse work of film.  I feel particularly connected to this film after having visited Havana last summer, where I met its principal screenwriter, Leonardo Padura. He mentioned the film in our conversation, and I have been waiting with baited breath to watch it ever since.  Thanks to my research adviser Ann Marie Stock, I was able to view the film and write about it for World Film Locations: Havana.  Below is a behind-the-scenes look at my scene description draft.  The timecode in the top left corresponds to the particular scene I am writing about, the scene from which I took still frames to accompany the piece (see last post on screen grabs).  I have included the stills below the text.  Enjoy!

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7 Días en La Habana

Benicio del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Médem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noé, Juan Carlos Tabío, Laruent Cantet  (NOTE: director of this portion was del Toro)

Morena Films, Full House, Havana Club

2012

Emma Rodvien

Timecode: 0:05:22 – 0:06:21

Filming Location: Capitolio building

“A contemporary portrait of this eclectic city through a single feature-length movie made of 7 chapters, directed by 7 internationally acclaimed directors.”  So announces Havana Club International, establishing a global context for the film’s portrayal of the city.  Nowhere is this globalized vision of Havana more present than in the film’s opening chapter, El Yuma.  The storyline follows the relationship between Teddy, an American student and Angelito, an ebullient Havana taxi driver who guides Teddy through the city.  We hear the two bond over stories of international travel, exchanging memories of time spent abroad and tales of foreign adventures.  In one instance, Angelito mumbles a few words in Russian, remnants of his time spent studying in the Soviet Union.  This spirit of global interchange accompanies Angelito and Teddy as they drive past the Capitolio building.  In an attempt to identify with his American passenger, Angelito mistakenly refers to the Capitolio- architecturally similar to the American Capitol- as the “White House.”  When Teddy corrects him, Angelito proudly replies, “It’s an exact replica of your Capitol, but it is 5 cm taller than the one in Washington, DC!”  “5 cm? That’s like 2 inches,” Teddy chuckles.  He stares thoughtfully out of his window, as if trying to reconcile his preconceptions of the city with the sweeping similarities and miniscule differences between Havana and his own home.  At times worlds apart, the American and Cuban capitols now appear separated by a mere 2 inches.  By blending local and external perspectives, 7 Días reminds viewers that Havana- from its taxi drivers to its buildings- is in dialogue with the world.

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