Agustí Villaronga takes El rey de La Habana to the Dominican Republic
by Alfonso Rivera
- The new film by the director of Black Bread is being shot as a co-production with the Dominican Republic, where it is being filmed after Cuba denied him shooting permission
Despite the atmosphere of increasing openness that is gradually enveloping Cuba, Luisa Matienzo (Tusitala), the producer of El rey de La Habana [+see also:
film profile] (lit. “The King of Havana”), did not succeed in getting permission from the island’s authorities to set the adaptation of Pedro Juan Gutiérrez’s novel of the same name there (the author is famous for his Dirty Havana Trilogy). The movie, written by its director, Agustí Villaronga, began its shoot last week.
Following in the footsteps of other titles in the Majorca-born director’s filmography, the film tells a story about a young man, in this case Reinaldo, a little rascal who escapes from a correctional institution and does his best to survive on the streets of Havana during the tough “Special Period” of the 1990s. After he meets the alluring Magda, with whom he will have a torrid love affair complete with rum and sex, he attempts to build up a “normal” household, while a brutal recession ravages the island.
The lead actors in this drama are the little-known – plus a few completely new – faces of Maykol David, Yordanka Ariosa, Héctor Medina, Ileana Wilson, Chanel Terrero and Jazz Vila. The movie’s budget is being provided by production outfits Pandora Cinema and Tusitala (on the Spanish side) and Esencia Films (for the Dominican Republic), in addition to contributions from TVE, Canal+, Televisió de Catalunya, Ibermedia, ICEC and the Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute (ICAA); its distribution within and outside of Spain is taken care of by Filmax.
DoP Josep Maria Civit – a regular collaborator with the late Bigas Luna – is working with Villaronga once again on this film, following the miniseries Carta a Eva. Alain Ortiz is serving as production designer, María Gil is in charge of costumes, Raúl Morán is handling the editing (a role he already performed on Black Bread [+see also:
film profile], El mar, El niño de la luna and In a Glass Cage, all of which were directed by Villaronga), and Joan Valent will provide the music.
The team behind El rey de La Habana hopes to have it ready in time for it to take part in the upcoming edition of the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
(Translated from Spanish)