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Cuban Rhyme with a Political Line

East of Havana is a gripping political documentary which follows the lives of four young Cuban rappers who use hip-hop to voice their frustrations. Co-directors, Jauretsi Saizabitoria and Emilia Menoc...

East of Havana is a gripping political documentary which follows the lives of four young Cuban rappers who use hip-hop to voice their frustrations. Co-directors, Jauretsi Saizabitoria and Emilia Menocal, talk about their experiences making the movie and the involvement of producer Charlize Theron.

CM: What difficulties did you face getting the project off the ground?

JS: We had to deal with the bureaucracy of the US government for a year and a half. That was phase one. Phase two was getting past the bureaucracy of the Cuban government. Getting cameras and computers into the country. In Cuba the internet is still illegal for most locals.

CM: How did Charlize Theron become involved as producer?

JS: She’s an old, old friend of mine and when we were all lttle punks, before acting or anything, she hung out a lot at my house. She was raised in the four walls of Cuban-American politics.

CM: How did El Cartel, the hip-hop crew, respond to you?

EM: I think they saw that we were so enthralled with their story that as production went on they became innately more comfortably. There were a lot of situations where they could have told us what the Cuban government wanted to hear but they never did.

CM: To what degree was Charlize involved in the project?

EM: She was very much a producer. She funded us and then she followed through all the way to the end. Late nights in the editing room, watching the film over and over again.

JS: There were post-production days where Charlize would show up with a cup of coffee in her hand and sat with us the entire day.

CM: What would you like audiences to take away from the film?

EM: Most people have no idea of the conditions that Cubans live in or the difficulties of everyday life.
 
JS: It’s really a time to re-think the Cuban-American policy and I’d like the movie to start opening minds. We've started a blog named 'What's going to happen to Cuba when Fidel dies?' as part of our MySpace site for people to discuss the issues in the film.  

East of Havana is screening on 18 and 21 August at Cineworld.

 

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