ACMI Presents

Viva

Unclassified 15+

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Jesus (Hector Medina), a young hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers, dreams of being a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García) – his own mother having died years earlier – Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage but when his estranged, ex-boxer father Angel abruptly re-enters his life after an absence of many years, his world is turned upside down. 

Just released from prison, Angel insists on moving in to his son’s cramped apartment. Forced to confront his father’s homophobia, Mama’s benevolent guidance notwithstanding, Jesus struggles to find common ground with his father, a man brutalized by his own difficult personal history. 

Irish director Paddy Breathnach became interested in Cuba’s underground world of drag performers when he visited Havana in 1996, a subculture that flourished even under Castro. The musical numbers staged in the nightclub are a highlight – Medina is a gifted performer – as is the evocative soundtrack by Stephen Rennicks. 

“Realising a long-cherished passion project, Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, 1997) has created a masterful and intimate portrayal of love and sacrifice, his camera capturing both the beauty of the Cuban capital and the pain beneath its alluring exterior.” Sydney Film Festival 

“A soulful crowd-pleaser of a film that is equal parts music and social commentary…set against the legacy of [Cuba’s] machismo, and an affirmation of the modern Cuban scene…Cathal Watters’ ground-level photography of Havana’s poorer districts adds to the realism of the film, yet there are also some stunning vignettes of what Angel refers to as one of the most ‘beautiful slums’ in the world. ” Thereelbits.com 

DURATION: 105 mins COUNTRY: CU DATE: 2015 FORMAT: DCP

Session times

12-27 Jan