The island nation 90 miles from Florida is getting its giant-screen close-up in Cuba.
Director Peter Chang fell in love with the vibrant country during a 2015 visit and was inspired to film a new documentary for extra-large screens and IMAX (in theaters May 18 in 2-D and 3-D).
“It’s the architecture, the large unspoiled swaths of land, and the cities. Cuba is so unique and fascinating. A world unto itself,” says Chang. “That was the spark.”
Chang and his crew were granted unprecedented access by the Cuban government, filming throughout 2016 for the big-screen portrait.
Cuba follows several storylines, including a young ballet student who pushes herself to the top of her class with dreams of becoming a prima ballerina.
Another focuses on marine biologists who dive deep off the country’s shoreline, even swimming with sharks, highlighting the beauty of Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) coral reef.
“We show the first-ever underwater footage of this protected coral reef, one of the healthiest in the world,” says Chang, who notes that biologists discuss how the reef has flourished in an era of challenging worldwide environmental problems.
Cuba also highlights Eusebio Leal Spengler, the famed Havana historian rebuilding and restoring Old Havana. Guided by Spengler, the large-format film is a suitable canvas for the country’s architectural gems.
“We shot the architectural sequences, showing the inside and outside of these historic buildings, in such a way that it’s like you’re really moving through them,” Chang says. “It’s like you’re being transported to these places.”
Chang hopes to open the eyes of America, and the world, to a fuller picture of Cuba.
“Seeing the landscapes and the cityscapes on this large canvas will make people realize what’s there just 90 miles from our border,” says Chang. “Cuba is a mix of architecture, culture and people. It’s really about the dreams of this country and the beauty and the wonder of it all.”
Bryan Alexander, USA Today
September 6, 2017