Sergio Navarretta on Directing The Cuban. A Love Letter to Havana [Exclusive Interview]

Sergio Navarretta directed The Cuban starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Ana Golja

The Cuban is a love letter to Havana.

The film stars Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman, Watchmen) as an aging Afro-Cuban musician who has dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It also stars Academy Award nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fox, The Expanse), Emmy winner Lauren Holly, Giancomo Gianniotti (Grey’s Anatomy) and Ana Golja.

Sergio Navarretta directed the movie from the script written by Alessandra Piccione (The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship).

Here’s the synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Mina Ayoub is a pre-med student who has given up her dream of becoming a singer. Orphaned as a baby in Afghanistan, Mina’s grandfather sent her to Canada at the age of eight to live with a lone aunt, Bano.

A former doctor herself, Bano wants nothing more than to see her own dreams fulfilled through her niece, and she pressures her to pursue a career in medicine. Although she dutifully complies, Mina’s heart isn’t in it, and she longs to return to a better time when, as a child, she and her grandfather would sing and play music together. Thanks to Bano, Mina has a part-time job in a long term care home. But she has trouble finding her footing under the watchful eye of her tough supervisor, Nurse Baker.

Then, she meets Luis.

Sergio Navarretta directed The Cuban starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Ana Golja

Luis is one of Mina’s most enigmatic patients – he has dementia and Alzheimer’s and spends his time in a wheelchair in a quiet corner of the room, retreated inside his own mind. He has no visitors, and Mina can relate to his solitude. They say he doesn’t have long, that his condition has advanced rapidly, and that Mina shouldn’t expect him to recognize her from one day to the next. But then, there’s the common love interest, music.

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A poster of Benny More inspires Mina to hum a jazz tune that, to her surprise, ignites a spark inside him. As each day passes, the music awakens Luis more and more until the colorful world of his past becomes vibrant and real again. Luis reacts, reminisces, dances reveals his incredible life as a famous musician in Cuba, and talks about the one great love who was left behind. As their friendship blossoms, Mina gradually comes into her own and even begins to enjoy life and friends and a new boyfriend. Through Luis, Mina remembers her grandfather back home and reconnects with her own love of music.

But as Luis becomes more and more awake to the world, tensions rise at the nursing home. Mina is seen as a disturbance, her job is threatened, and Bano has little time for her behavior. At the same time, Luis’s estranged son, Michael, announces his plans to move Luis into palliative care. Desperate to help him out of his isolation, Mina resolves to break Luis out of the home and, with the help of her friends, grants him his one last wish to ‘return’ to Cuba and perform on stage again.

LRM Online exclusively spoke with director Sergio Navarretta via Zoom. Navarretta previously directed the comedy The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship and murder drama Looking for Angelina.

The Cuban won multiple film festival awards at the Pan African Film Festival 2020 and Whistler Film Festival 2019.

The film is currently playing in limited theaters and virtual cinemas.

Watch the exclusive interview below.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, Brainstorm Media

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Nancy Tapia

Nancy Tapia has been an interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review Media since 2011. Former UCLA Bruin specializes in Operations Management. Covering entertainment has been an unexpected lively journey. Always open to the next, new experience. From solo traveling to adding a new peak to her personal 100 Hike Challenge. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @inancytapia

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