Russian documentary about Cuba’s people opens in Havana

Russian musician and filmmaker Stas Namin presented his documentary “The Real Cuba” in Havana on Tuesday (Dec. 12). The film was shown at the 23 and 12 Cinema as part of the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema.

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According to the news agency TASS, the film was made over a period of two years by a Russian crew that traveled through Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba interviewing people of all ages and professions — “street musicians, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, dancers, athletes, peasants and fishermen.”

The film “conveys the inimitable color of Cuban colonial cities with their ancient squares, narrow streets and picturesque churches,” TASS reports.

“Cuba is a unique country with unique people,” Namin told the news agency. “I’ve traveled the world a lot and nowhere else have I seen such a spirit and aura. Despite the fact that Cuba is not a very rich country, it is very happy, cheerful and artistic.”

To make the film, Namin collaborated with James Bradford (Jim) Brown, an Emmy Award-winning producer of documentaries, and Robert de Niro, a well-known actor and friend. Brown was unable to attend the premiere because of the U.S. government’s recent tightening of travel rules to Cuba.

According to Namin, “The Real Cuba” will be shown next April at the New York Tribeca Festival, created on the initiative of actor De Niro.

Stas Namin, 66, is the grandson of the late Soviet statesman Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, who in 1962 helped defuse the so-called Missile Crisis between the U.S. and Cuba. Namin’s real name is Anastas Alekseyevich Mikoyan.

“I know Cuba from childhood,” the filmmaker said at the premiere. “I got to know Fidel Castro when I was 12, thanks to his friendship with my grandfather. Fidel visited us several times in Moscow and later taught me how to smoke cigars.” According to him, he has visited the island several times since the late 1980s with musical and theatrical tours and photo exhibitions.

Namin is one of the founders of Russian rock music and the leader of the legendary group TsvyetÈ (Flowers,) also known as the Russian Beatles. He founded Russia’s first independent film production center, SNC, which launched many domestic stars. He also created the Moscow Theater of Music and Drama.

In Havana, Namin told TASS that he plans to make two new documentaries, one about his grandfather Anastas, and the other about Anastas’ brother Artem, the aircraft designer who — together with Mikhail Gurevich — created the MiG line of fighter planes in the 1940s.

Photo at top: Anastas Mikoyan and Fidel Castro in the 1960s.