MY BLOG: SCREENING THE DOCUMENTARY AT THE HAVANA FILM FESTIVAL
“It’s strange for me to think that a foreigner can teach us about something so very Cuban as cigars and the people behind them,” said Roberto Fabelo Hung, the son of the famous Cuban artist Roberto Fabelo. Roberto is an artist himself.
He and 200 other people watched my documentary film “Cigars: The Hear and Soul of Cuba” in the Salon 1830 of the Hotel Nacional in Havana last Friday evening during the XXXIII Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
“Congratulations,” said Jorge Maique, the co-president of Habanos SA, the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars. “It was really emotional to watch. It was very special.”
It was emotional for me. It was the realization of a dream. It was one reason why I left The Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado. I wanted to make a movie about cigars and Cuba for years after spending decades traveling to the island. And I had to do it on my own.
Thanks to my dear friend film director James Orr, co-producer Tony Brocklehurst, and a small Cuban camera crew, it happened. And, of course, I had all my close friends in Havana as well as elsewhere supporting the movie and my endeavor.
A number of journalists interviewed me at the movie screening for both print and broadcast media, and the common question was, “Why do a documentary on Cuban cigars?”
I said that Cuban cigars are a metaphor for what is good about Cuba – things like tradition, passion, and family. The message of the film is that Cuba makes some of the greatest cigars on earth not only because of its unique soil and climate and its long history of cigar production, but more importantly, because of the people of Cuba. No matter what their daily lives may bring, people working in tobacco – making Habanos – have a passion and dedication that is so unique to Cuba.
Moreover, the movie is about the magic of Cuban cigars. When a person smokes one, it evokes thoughts of the rich red soils of Pinar del Rio, the beautiful colonial architecture of Havana’s cigars factories, and the warm welcoming smiles of cigar rollers. It’s a case of the product embodying the soul of a people.
I hope you have the chance to see the movie soon.
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