Cuba: Island of Music

Cuba: Island of Music

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Some 20 years ago, Father Joe Morris Doss wrote Let the Bastards Go to commemorate the events that brought him and his friend Father Leo Frade to Cuba during the Mariel Boat Lift. Doss makes an incredible analogy in the book (published only last year) that simply and concisely sums up the political motivations behind this window of opportunity that allowed over a hundred thousand Cubans to come to the United States in 1980: Cuba was not unlike a boiler about to explode, and if Castro didn’t release some of the pressure, his revolution would be at risk. For Cuba: Island of Music, director Gary Keys intercuts interviews with prominent musicians, artists and everyday Cubans with outstanding Afrocentric dance spectacles, the occasional news clipping and scenes of Cuban underdevelopment (Havana is a cultural relic that’s barely changed since the first days of Castro’s Revolution). The more interesting interviewees—however naïve they are to the way their music is shopped outside the country—are more than willing to give Keys a political context. This lovely video travelogue has room for every minority in the country (finally, a documentary on Cuba that acknowledges its Chinese populace), and Keys seems to understand that the global appeal of Cuban music is directly proportional to its multiculturality. The director himself provides one final anecdote on how slaves created Gospel as a means of coping with oppression. Watching this infectious montage project you get a sense that Cubans similarly dance and sing at the risk of succumbing to a life of resignation. They move to release the pressure.

Distributor
GothamJazz
Runtime
80 min
Rating
NR
Year
2004
Director
Gary Keys