Fernando Pérez's Últimos días en La Habana ready for post-production
by Alfonso Rivera
- The eighth film by the director of Life Is to Whistle is a Spanish-Cuban co-production that the director himself describes as a “cheerful drama”; it was shot last summer in Havana
Cuban filmmaker Fernando Pérez shot to international fame in 2000 with Life Is to Whistle (which won awards at Sundance, Rotterdam and Berlin, in addition to snagging the Goya for Best Latin American Film), and he won further acclaim in 2003 with the moving documentary Suite Havana, a movie – devoid of dialogue – consisting of simple stories, revolving around nameless people in the Cuban capital, which ended up being a finalist in two categories of the awards handed out by the Spanish Film Academy. He then went on to shoot Madrigal, José Martí: el ojo del canario and La pared de las palabras. Last summer, he filmed Últimos días en La Habana (lit. “Last Days in Havana”) in the city he loves so much. It is a co-production between ICAIC (the Cuban Institute of Film Art and Industries), and Spanish outfits Besa Films and Wanda Visión SA, owned by the Morales brothers, which also financed and distributed some of his previous movies.
Starring Patricio Wood, Jorge Martínez, Coralia Veloz, Gabriela Ramos and Yailene Sierra, Últimos días en La Habana boasts a tragicomic screenplay written by the director and Abel Rodríguez, which tackles the subject of friendship in a city on the verge of substantial change. The lead characters are two friends in their mid-forties who are neighbours from the Centro Habana neighbourhood: Miguel – a dishwasher in a restaurant, who dreams of settling in New York while he waits for a visa that never seems to arrive – and Diego, a homosexual man suffering from AIDS who puts his dreams and cheerfulness to good use in his struggle to carry on enjoying every single day of his life from a rickety old bed in his small bedroom. This peculiar pair are surrounded by characters from all walks of life.
Lensed by the director's usual collaborator, Raúl Pérez Ureta, the film was shot over the course of six weeks, proudly displaying the human diversity of the Cuban capital, and it boasts backing from the Ibermedia programme. Its budget stands at €589,800.
(Translated from Spanish)