What an interesting country Cuba is! And you haven’t yet set foot!
Each time I book a trip, I experience instant excitement. According to researchers, the anticipation of a journey makes you as happy as the trip itself, so let’s keep the momentum going. Immerse yourself in reading novels, talking about your travel with friends, and watching some great movies about Cuba. You will feel like your travels have already begun!
All the movies we recommend below are older, and most can be rented from your local library for free.
Motorcycle Diaries - 2004
Directed by: Walter Salas
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal as young Che Guevara and as Alberto Granado
Standing ovations at Sundance film festival
In Cuba, you will see the famous image of Che everywhere – on buildings, banknotes, and t-shirts. Motorcycle Diaries gives us the opportunity to get to know the actual human behind the icon. In the movie, we meet young Ernesto Guevara “before he knew where life would take him and before the world knew his name”. Free from politics and ideology and based on the true story written by Che himself, the film follows two close friends as they set off on a motorcycle trip through Latin America. During the long journey, Ernesto and Alberto discover the exploitation of native Americans by Spanish and US landowners and mining corporations. The tribes in Chile and Peru live in excruciating poverty and face racial discrimination and social injustice. Experiencing “the true Latin America” transforms the lives of Alberto and Ernesto forever.
The shot includes spectacular sceneries of Andes, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Amazon, and with a soundtrack that causes goosebumps, it is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
Chico and Rita - 2010
Directed by: Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando.
Oscar nomination for best-animated movie.
Chico and Rita is an animated love story between two young and talented Cuban musicians: pianist Chico (the story is loosely based on a life of Bebo Valdés and the singer Rita. Their turbulent relationship is set against the backdrop of Havana and New York in the 50’s, the Cuban revolution, and then a special period. The great soundtrack was written and performed by Bebo Valdés and Estrella Morente. The enchanting scenes in the iconic Tropicana and Hotel Nacional will surely make you want to visit Cuba.
Cuba and the Cameraman - 2017
Directed by: Jon Alpert
Jon Alpert traveled to Cuba for 45 years to document the lives of three ordinary Cuban families. During those years, he becomes friends with his characters, especially the 3 farming brothers Angel, Gregorio, and Cristobal. Beautiful, the moving documentary was made by an American who surely loves and respects Cuba.
You can watch the movie on Netflix.
Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate) - 1993
Directed by: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío
Starring: Jorge Perugorría as Diego and Vladimir Cruz as David
In one of its apartments, Diego, a sophisticated gay Cuban artist, attempts to seduce a young communist party member – David. David is magnetized by Diego’s personality and at the same time finds him to be a threat to a socialist system in which he strongly believes. He decides to spy on Diego and commits himself to report back on him to Cuban secret police. Unexpectedly, the two become friends.
Surprisingly, the movie portrays Cuba in a rather negative light, as a homophobic police state that was actually funded by the Cuban government. The building in which the movie was shot is now one of the most visited places in Havana.
Buena Vista Social Club - 1999
Directed by: Wim Wenders
Critic’s Choice Awards
The documentary directed by Wim Winders tells the story of Cuba’s most famous band, Buena Vista Social Club. In the late ’90s, the guitarist Ry Cooder and his son, Joachim, traveled to Havana with a mission to gather together the best Cuban musicians and record an album. Their idea that started on the streets of Havana ended with a sold-out concert in Carnegie Hall. This documentary pays a beautiful tribute to Cuban music and its main characters including Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzales.