7 Days in Havana
Continuing the tradition of Tokyo! (2008), New York, I Love You (2009) and its original predecessor Paris, je t’aime (2006), this film is a compilation of seven daily snapshots of contemporary Havana in 2011, with Benicio del Toro, Pablo Trapero (whose White Elephant is also in the Un Certain Regard programme), Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noé, Juan Carlos Tabío and Laurent Cantet contributing a chapter each. Vivid, colourful and sporadic, this mix of cinematic styles and inspirations succeeds to capture the soul of the city in its diversity of neighbourhoods, atmospheres, generations and cultures.
The best thing about a picture like this is that everyone will find a story or two that will stick in their memory; the others will, of course, pass episodically, one beat of salsa overriding the other, with some characters and features reoccurring in between to give the picture some consistency, demonstrating how intermingled all levels of society are in this vibrant Cuban capital. The cinematic interpretation of screenplay co-ordinator Leonardo Padura’s ideas captured on screen is very atmospheric and sensual, often built around the clichés of the city seen from a foreigner’s perspective, and somewhat lacking some deeper explorations of the political and social background of the locals’ lives in the film as a whole.
However, some brief moments depicted here are very comical and true. For instance, Trapero’s Tuesday section – Jam Session – stars Emir Kusturica as himself, a famous director who escapes the fancy award reception dinner to enjoy the night in trumpeter Alexander Abreu’s company, choosing to explore the real vibe of the city. Also Elia Suleiman’s Diary of a Beginner, featuring a Palestinian who wanders the streets while waiting for an appointment organised by the Palestinian Embassy.
The film is interesting for the variety of approaches it represents, yet is nicely unified in style by cinematography by Daniel Aranyó and Diego Dussuel (except Gaspar Noé, who operated the camera himself), and screenplay coordination by Leonardo Padura. It is as enjoyable an experience as all the other projects of the series.
Watch the trailer of 7 Days in Havana here: