Canadian filmmaker Ron Chapman travelled to Cuba without knowing how to speak Spanish, however, he never let that stop him from experiencing the bright culture and now he is set on sharing the island’s most talented artists with the world.
Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Varela is the subject of the director’s documentary “The Poet of Havana,” which features two concerts at Havana’s Teatro National and special interviews from Jackson Browne, Benicio del Toro, Ivan Lins, Luis Enrique, Juan + Samuel Formel, Diana Fuentes, X Alfonso, Alexander Abreu about why his music is important.
“I realized that the last film that [featured Cuban music] was ‘The Buena Vista Social Club,’ which came out 17-years ago,” Chapman told The Gracie Note. “It only showed this pre-revolutionary style of music called Cuban son. It’s an old style and people in the world think that’s Cuban music for a variety of reasons. [Reasons like] the embargo, because Cuban artists couldn’t sign with multi-national labels, they couldn’t export their product and Cubans themselves couldn’t get visas to travel elsewhere.”
Over the course of making the documentary, Chapman and Varela developed a special relationship that helped the director communicate the depth of the musician’s songs in “The Poet of Havana.”
“When I went to Cuba, I did not speak Spanish and in terms of his music, it was fascinating for me because his was incredibly accessible and it was almost as if I understood what he was saying without even understanding what he was saying,” the filmmaker explained.
He also said, “He was a bit of an enigma. He’s not everywhere and on the scene [but more] in his own world. He’s one of the most famous and revered artists in Cuba and he’s known as someone who is the heart and soul of the people and who expresses what the people think in a way that they can’t articulate.”
“The Poet of Havana” is now available exclusively on iTunes.
The Poet of Havana Trailer
Listen to Carlos Varela on Spotify!