Live from Havana - Day 4

Havana Day 4

Had breakfast with Denise Guerra, a cinematographer who works with our pal Alejandro Ramirez Anderson. She shot a film I love, One child, One School, which profiles one of the 60 + schools in the countryside where there is only 1 child of school age. Pursuant to the country’s national education promise, each of these villages has a schoolhouse, where the teacher and child raise the flag, do lessons, sing, eat lunch together, finish their school day, and often walk home together.

While waiting on Havana Vieja for a friend, I happened upon Hector Drago,  a teacher and photographer (this place is full of creators) who I met while making Havana Cureveball Hector is one of the men who engage in spirited discussions about baseball everySunday, waxing philosophic about umpires, the out-migration of players to the US, and their beloved home team, Los Industriales, currently in second place of Phase 2 of this season.

Rick Swig and I checked out Raices, our cinematographer Roberto Chile’s beautiful photo essay on the Afro-Cuban communities on the island. Beautiful textures of the dance, song and rituals brought and maintained by former slaves whose culture survives and flourishes throughout Cuba. The photos captivated me and inspired me with some ideas for (R)evolution Cuba, our series of short films about contemporary Cuban artists.

The day’s highlight may have been a private concert at the studio of Choco, one of the giants of Cuban art. Surrounded by Choco’s painting and sculpture,  Aldo and Ruy jammed, backed up by an acoustic guitar and electric bass. As we say at Passover, Dayenu. If that had been my only experience here, it would have been enough.

But of course, there was more, as there always is here, especially the week of the Jazz Festival. Yasek Manzano and Yssy’s band tore up the stage at the Bertolt Brecht theater. I sat with Rebecca Mauleon of SF Jazz Center; I hope she is able to program a Cuban Jazz Fest in our city.

After, I paid a late night visit to the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, the world’s best art space, where I hung out with journalist/filmmakers Reed Lindsay and Jehane Hafez, who have been making films about human rights and political change around the world, tracking the Arab Spring, Gaza, acid attacks on women in India, and here in Cuba, the changing landscape of baseball, where this week a delegation of US players are visiting, giving free clinics to young ballplayers.

- Ken