Written by 5:59 am Art

“Havana at your feet/ I’d not know learn how to love you every other way”

It’s almost ready. Some color adjustments, the transfer to Digital Signal Processing (DSP) of the fabric and La Habana de Fito, a documentary by Cuban filmmaker Juan Pin Vilar, can be able to be served to viewers in Cuba and the world. Multiple hundred minutes of vibrant testimonies, interviews and archive images put into context the endearing relationship of Fito Páez, a necessary figure of rock in Spanish, with the town and its intense and contradictory future.

In Havana Fito has sung, made friends, loved and has been a participant in the thrill and sorrows of the common citizen, the one to whom he attributes a generosity and a capability to rejoice that’s disappointment-proof.

Through the filming of the principal interview. Havana 2022.

The film’s mainstay comprises several interviews with the Argentinian singer-songwriter, in Havana and Buenos Aires. He narrates how the threads of a reciprocal love between him and the capital of Cuba, a spot where he has several generations of followers, were intertwined. Contributing to the story, and in what way, are the testimonies of Pablo Milanés, Cecilia Roth, Carlos Alfonso, Ele Valdés, Luis Alberto García and Wendy Guerra, amongst others; sometimes as exceptional witnesses — Cecilia was his partner on a part of that tour — and others as mere spectators, young individuals who felt that Fito’s songs spoke on to them.

Juan Pin and actor Luis Alberto García, one of the interviewees. Cathedral Squar
Juan Pin and actor Luis Alberto García, one in all the interviewees. Cathedral Squar

Fito’s first — fleeting — contact with Havana occurred in April 1987, when he got here to take part in the sixth Varadero Popular Music Festival. This edition of the event is remembered for the meeting of luminaries comparable to María Bethania, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Irakere, Harry Belafonte, Van Van, Silvio and Elena Burque, amongst others. But, above all, it’s memorable for the debut of a really thin and gangly boy who sang, along with his whole body, pieces of untamed pain. On that occasion, we Cubans collided live with a rock in Spanish that was not epigonal or mimetic, but quite got here charged with the popularity and assumption of being Latin American. Fito won the general public’s heart and the general public won Fito’s heart, which had been broken after an enormous family tragedy.

The artist has spoken in regards to the latter on several occasions, and within the documentary, once more, he expresses it. His trip to Cuba, on the invitation of Pablo Milanés, literally saved his life. A yr earlier, an aunt and his grandmother had been murdered in the town of Rosario. Pablo, as he himself tells it, saw within the Argentinian’s euphoria, in his vivid eyes, the mark of pain and offered him the one treatment inside his reach: to sing, to remake himself, to perform the prodigy of turning his music into the expression of many. Without that chance for contact with the Cuban people, Fito acknowledges, he wouldn’t be the identical.

During the filming of the main interview. Havana 2022.
Through the filming of the principal interview. Havana 2022.

Juan Pin Vilar got down to create a piece that was not nostalgic. But he didn’t quite achieve it. You may’t ask Cuban Fito fans to not be assaulted many times by the sweet sentiment. Unattainable for individuals who were present at his concert within the Plaza de la Revolución in December 1993 (100,000 people, according  to the Spanish newspaper El País), to not shudder at the photographs. Well, it’s not only a matter of reviewing a moment, but of remembering who we were then, after we fell in love and sang “Cable a tierra,” “11 y 6,” “Ambar violeta,” “Giros”…. The identical thing happens with those that were present in October 2014 (Leo Brouwer Music Festival) and in June 2016 (closing concert for the thirtieth anniversary of the Giros record) on the Karl Marx, where the singer from Rosario set fire to the nights.

“Habana,” the song that Fito dedicated to the town, had its world premiere in Lenin Park in May 1997, during a concert in solidarity with AIDS patients organized by Pablo Milanés, and which was also joinced by Joaquín Sabina. Precisely that very inspired piece is now heard within the documentary with a new arrangement, specially made for the occasion, within the voices of Pablo Milanés, Pancho Céspedes, Cimafunk and, after all, Fito. A present of incalculable artistic value.

The project La Habana de Fito obtained one in all the economic supports for its realization from the second edition of the Fund for the Promotion of Cuban Cinema. The script and direction were carried out by Juan Pin Vilar (Havana, 1963), who had the collaboration of Ricardo Figueredo and Josué García (production), Raúl Prado (photography), Marian Quintana (editing) and Velia Díaz de Villalvilla. (soundtrack).

Juan Pin and photographer Raúl Prado at work.
Juan Pin and photographer Raúl Prado at work.

Juan Pin has directed for Cuban television multiple hundred broadcasts in several genres, amongst them the fictional materials Una noche con Nora (1988), Los jugadores (1990), Feliz Cumpleaños (1997), El verdugo (2002) and El puente rojo (2013). He can be the creator of the documentary Pablo Milanés (2015), not yet shown in Cuba.

In just a few days La Habana de Fito will begin its route through festivals and exhibition halls. Let’s wait, expectantly, for the meeting with the Cubans, his natural audience.

The Argentinian has written and sung: “If we don’t decide to live, I would love to die in Havana.”1 Long journey for this new work of national cinematography. Long live Fito; we still need his songs.


1 These, and the verses that make up the title of this note, belong to the song “Habana.”

Alex Fleites

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