Previously at the ICA - Films

Still: East of Havana

East of Havana + Q&A

12 Mar 2007

Yearning for hip hop unburdened with bling and slick over-production? Follow Mikki, Magyori and Soandry of el Cartel, a collective of hip hop artists who operate outside of Cuba's government-controlled music industry. These three friends are not just consuming hip hop, but harnessing its power to relay their own raw messages of experience, emotion and revolution.

Welcome to East of Havana, where the struggle to find the perfect rhyme is eclipsed only by the struggle to get by. As Hurricane Charley looms, threatening the upcoming annual hip hop festival which brings rare international attention to the country's burgeoning talent, Mikki, Magyori, and Soandry reflect on the meaning of hip hop in their personal and political lives.

Magyori supports her hip hop aspirations by selling anything and everything on the streets of Havana, sometimes even the clothes off her back. Mikki makes ends meet with the help of his grandfather. Soandry longs to see his older brother who fled Cuba for the United States a decade earlier.

First time Cuban-American filmmakers Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emilia Menocal find a delicate balance elusive to so many seeking to capture and relay the Cuban experience; they succeed in illuminating the country's natural beauty without glorifying it, and address the sociopolitical plight of Cuba's youth without being patronising.

Jauretsi Saizarbitoria's and Emilia Menocal's film serves as a metaphor about artistic freedom and wiliness - Robert Koehler, Variety

Dirs Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emelia Menocal, US 2006, 82 mins


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E.g., 20-03-2018