THE KING OF HAVANA
North American Premiere
Country: Dominican Republic, Spain
Original Title: EL REY DE LA HABANA
Running Time: 125min
Film Year: 2015
In Cuba’s incongruously named “Special Period” of the mid-1990s, when squalor and shortages reached appalling levels, teenage Rey is released from juvenile prison after serving time for a crime he did not commit. All of Rey’s family members are dead, but he’s taken in first by his former neighbor Fedesbinda, and then by her estranged daughter Madga, a wiley prostitute. Both women are drawn to Rey’s massive manhood, which earns him his nickname, El Rey, or “The King,” of Havana. With Magda, Rey forms something like a family. The couple squats in a precariously embrittled apartment next to transgendered hustler Yunisleidi. An impending storm, both literal and figurative, barrels toward these downtrodden pariahs, who preserve what remains of their dignity with the only tools at hand: their humor, their bodies and their savvy for scrounging.
Agusti Villaronga’s adaptation of Pedro Juan Gutierrez’s novel was so controversial it could not be filmed in Cuba; instead, it was shot in the Dominican Republic with Cuban and Dominican actors. The King of Havana recalls the Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild in its near-palpable authenticity and nonjudgmental account of lives lived far off any imaginable grid, where the lack of any comprehendible societal structure reduces people to their basest condition. Surprisingly, even in these lowest depths Villaronga finds tenderness, compassion and hope. – Jaie Laplante
Recommended for mature audiences only.
This film is also part of the Lexus Ibero American Feature Film Competition film category.
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Sunday March 13th @ 1:00pm REGAL 18 Add to Schedule
Director: Agustí Villaronga
Producer: Luisa Matienzo
Screenwriter: Agustí Villaronga, based on the novel by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez
Music: Joan Valent
Cinematographer: Josep M. Civit
Editor: Raúl Román