”The U.S. and Cuba are like two brothers who’ve been estranged for many years,” President Obama’s said in his historic 2015 speech opening the door to exchange between two enemy nations. His words echo the story of LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS.
Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán are virtuoso musician brothers, born in Havana, long separated by geopolitics. Ilmar was sent at fourteen to study violin with a Soviet master. He never lived in Cuba again, ultimately landing in the U.S. Younger brother Aldo grew up mentored by Cuba’s impressive jazz and classical pianists, his extraordinary talent achieving renown on the island but stymied abroad by the U.S. embargo. He too left Cuba—for the London Conservatory—but returned to his home country and family.
A thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations offers the first opportunity for the brothers to tour the U.S. together. Aldo is optimistic this is his big break—he still has a year left on his visa. But at tours’ end, politics shift again, threatening the brothers’ dreams.
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LOS HERMANOS / THE BROTHERS
WHY THIS STORY?
In Cuba art is central to national identity. The island of 11 million people has outsized influence in dance and music worldwide. At the cultural vanguard in any country, artists are some of Cuba's most salient ambassadors, with a history of crossing divides that seem intractable to political leaders. Since the 1990s, Cuban artists and musicians have been tasked with bringing currency into an ailing economy, and allowed opportunities to travel, sell, and perform their work. Their privilege places them in an unusual position, allowing for some independence from the socialist economy. Those who stayed, like Aldo, love their country—and criticize it. Those who left, like Ilmar, love their country—and criticize it. With more possibilities on the table, the Gavilán brother’s dynamic and visually compelling story gives a unique and personal perspective on the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.