DOCUMENTARY ABOUT CARLOS VARELA WINS AUDIENCE AWARD
Carlos Varela continues to steal the hearts of those who hear his music, and now he will continue to steal hearts from the big screen. The Poet of Havana or El Poeta de la Habana, directed by Canadian filmmaker Ron Chapman, won the Audience Selection BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Film award in the recently concluded Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida.
The film, which features revealing interviews with music and media personalities, began shooting in January 2013, when the Cuban singer performed two concerts celebrating his 30-year career, which featured guest appearances from Jackson Browne, Ivan Lins, Luis Enrique, Eduardo Cabra, Juan Formell, José Luis Cortés, Isaac Delgado Diana Fuentes, X Alfonso, Alexander Abreu and The String Orchestra of Havana.
In an exclusive interview with VISTAR , Varela said he enjoyed attending the Premiere, , held in Tampa Florida on the 27th of March.
“This is the first time I visited the city of Tampa, and the welcome they gave me. It was an honor to have the premiere of this documentary in a city that has so much history with Cuba, José Martí, and where so many Cubans live. The movie theater was sold out, and people were turned away. It was exciting to feel and hear the people sing along and cheer and clap at various times during the film.”
Varela with Ron Chapman, director of The Poet of Havana
“There were Cubans, Latinos and Americans who identified with this film, which has some narration by Benicio del Toro and has the song lyrics and Spanish language subtitled in English,” said the singer, who also said that “winning Audience Award is the best thing that could have happened. It’s really gratifying to know that we connected with so many people. ”
The Poet of Havana film also includes songs and interviews with artists like Juan Formell, Benicio del Toro, Browne, Jorge Luis Enrique or Perugorría. where the validity and scope of the issues examined Varela in Cuba and outside their country, as well as the influence they have had relations between Cuba and EEE.UU. both his work and the Cuban culture,
The author of “Una Palabra” said it’s really gratifying to know that in the films world premiere, it was awarded the Audience Selection Best Documentary Feature Award.
“It’s a blessing, sharing Rons dream, along with my musicians, producers and together with the whole team to make this documentary film, which isnt just about me, but is a tribute to my entire generation.”
He hopes to present it in Cuba as soon as possible, “but that does not depend on me. I understand that we will perform a concert at the Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana this year. ”
Other important film festivals will be featuring this documentary in Los Angeles, Arizona, New York, Chicago, Mexico London and many many more locations around the world..
On the possibility of soon touring the island he answered “its been a long while since we toured around the country, but it never depends on me”.
“The truth is that we have many international commitments this year, but we want to play soon in Havana and premiere the release of the double live album together with the DVD of the concert we did at the National Theatre for my 30th anniversary. It is possible that between August and September we might do a small tour of 6 concerts in some cities in Cuba. ”
In early April he will play in Bogota with his band at the Gaitan theater to participate in a great event for nonviolence with other Latin American artists.
“Then, on April 29 we play Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico; after that May 1 and from there we go to Miami for two concerts on the 8th and 9th of May. In August I will be with Van Van in a tribute to Juan Formell in Miami, and we also have several concerts with Ivan Lins in Argentina and Brazil planned in late September. ”
“The craft of music not only helps you to know different parts of the world but also helps you learn better to your own country, which ultimately is and will always be where my songs connect with people.”
Musician Carlos Varela seeks to bridge U.S. and Cuban audiences.
TAMPA, Fla. | By Saundra Amrhein – Reuters |
Singer-songwriter Carlos Varela, dubbed “The Poet of Havana,” has walked a cultural tightrope in Cuba for decades, questioning the island’s communist government in his lyrics, while also hitting out at Washington’s five-decades-old trade embargo.
His songs earned him a following on both sides of the Florida Straits despite their Cold War divide.
Artists hope the thaw in relations and a documentary about Varela will allow them to bring audiences closer together in both countries.
“The Poet of Havana,” by Toronto-based film director Ron Chapman, depicts Varela as a symbol of a generation of Cuban artists born soon after the 1959 revolution who opted to stay in Cuba rather than emigrate. Although they have grown disillusioned with the island’s communist system, they did not actively seek to overthrow it.
The documentary, which premiered last month at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, will be shown in the United States, Cuba and England. It features interviews with actor Benicio Del Toro and American musician Jackson Browne, as well as Cuban music critics and musicians.
“There is a misperception about Cuba and Cuban music in the world at large, more so in the United States because of the embargo,” Chapman said in an interview.
Many people associate Cuban music only with the traditional “son” music made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club documentary and album. But Chapman said Cuba has produced many other styles of music.
He was in Cuba working on another film when he came across Varela’s music and loved it.
“When I looked at the lyrics, I realized I was listening to an exceptional artist of incredible depth,” he said.
Varela’s popular 1989 song, “Guillermo Tell,” recasts the William Tell fable with the son seeking to switch roles and shoot an apple on his father’s head. It was widely interpreted as a metaphor for younger Cubans speaking to Fidel Castro and the country’s aging leadership.
The film shows Varela during a U.S. visit with members of Congress in 2009, when he sang “Walls and Doors,” with the lyrics, “There are those who build walls and those who open doors.”
Regardless of how long the governments take to restore relations, Varela said, artists have outpaced them.
“What we can demonstrate to the politicians on both sides is that as artists we can accomplish that which politicians have not been able to accomplish in more than 50 years,” he said.