Leonardo (Jonah Acosta Gonzalez) and his girlfriend Sarah (Evelyn Castrado O’Farrill) want to escape Cuba to a better land of milk and honey. Leonardo has a great opportunity to leave Cuba on a ballet tour of the National Ballet of Cuba but as he is not cast in the lead role of Romeo he has an angry spat with the director and he is expelled from the Ballet.
Well there is a rather common technique in Cuba amongst those with few morals and that is to marry a foreigner tourist, go to the land of milk and honey, “get your papers” and bring over your loved ones after dumping the tourist.
Leonardo focuses in on a mid thirty-year-old woman from Montreal, Nasim (Aki Yaghoubi) who is a victim of an abusive husband. Nasim is just so sweet and innocent you feel a sadness seeing how she is to be manipulated. Leonardo as noted by the director of his former ballet company, is the best dancer but lacks respect and humility. Sarah is ambitious as a lawyer she understands she can make a lot of money in the land of milk and honey.
Well matters progress to a light romance between Nasim and Leonardo in Havana and Nasim returns to Montreal then Leonardo 4 months later all expenses paid. Sarah understands there may be sex involved but pleads with Leonardo when you do have sex don’t look her in the eyes and save that for me. Nasim and Leonardo have sex in Montreal and she asks him why don’t you look at me in the eyes?
Nasim is warned by friends that Leonardo may have lovers in Cuba. I think she suspects his motives which may be somewhat irrelevant as beneath that sweet exterior lies a hunter after prey.
Leonardo is rejected in two dance auditions and lands a job at a meat processing plan as an illegal making $5 an hour. A work buddy suggests pay a Canadian to marry Sarah and bring her back which he does paying $5,000 for the deed.
Leonardo frequently dreams of Havana and he dearly misses it. Nasim’s father is furious at her bringing a black man into his house and threatens never to talk to Nasim again.
Sarah pops up in Montreal and the sex between her and Leonardo certainly wasn’t what it used to be and she can’t look him in the eyes whereas lately he has been looking into Nasim’s eyes during lovemaking. After Leonardo and Sarah’s less than successful lovemaking he looks through her phone and there she is in a picture hugging a man she met at a law conference in Havana after Leonardo had left for Montreal. This man had suggested she go to Toronto to practice law as it would be easier to be licensed to practice in Ontario than Quebec. Nasim had also looked at Leonardo’s laptop and saw love notes from Sarah. So all three assemble at a coffee shop and all three seem equally unhappy.
Sarah then hops on a bus to Toronto while Leonardo has a promising audition with a Montreal ballet company. He returns to Nasim’s house. He stares at it. Should he go in?
A story about treachery, deception and the loneliness attendant with immigration. Is Leonardo going to be the big loser? He is a manipulator who gets what he deserves and is Nasim, seemingly so sweet, really a shark?
Well as you try and figure out these questions involving these flawed human beings enjoy the tremendous soundtrack filled with both modern and traditional Cuban music and a couple of melancholic and well positioned Persian songs. Gonzales is really an accomplished ballet dancer and a current principal at Bayern Staatsballett in Munich.
“Sin La Habana” premiered at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal where it won the the Prix de la Distribution. The film will have its International Premiere at the 2021 Miami Film Festival.
The film is directed by award-winning Iranian-Canadian director and musician Kaveh Nabatian. English subtitles. 95 minutes in length.
You can catch the trailer here https://vimeo.com/512545304
You can see virtually
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