From Cuba to the World
produced & directed by
Cynthia Biestek is an American director and producer, who studied film and documentary at New York University. She is the founder of Positivation Films, which is based in Merida, Mexico. Cynthia has previously produced the documentary, “The Kings of the Cuban Son.”(2009) The documentary tells the story of the Santiago De Cuba super group, Septeto Santiaguero, winner of two Latin Grammy awards and a Grammy nomination. With Eliades Ochoa: From Cuba to the World (2019), Biestek makes her directorial debut.
As the story goes, I decided after taking film classes at NYU to make a big change and follow a dream I had of producing documentaries, the goal being to tell unusual and inspiring stories. I have always loved to travel and discover new and fascinating places, and meet the local peoples, so this was a perfect fit.
In March 2000 I took my first trip to Cuba as part of a documentary workshop group. That was a life changing experience for me, and I knew then, exactly the story I wanted to tell. In the second largest city, in the Eastern part of the island, is where I discovered the most magical and infectious music I had ever heard. At that time, the famous Tres (guitar) player, Eliades Ochoa, of Buena Vista Social Club fame was performing at The Casa de la Trova. This venue is a “wealth of musical tradition” and in my opinion the best that Cuba has to offer. This is where in the 19th century, with the influence of the African slaves and the Spanish immigrants, the ‘SON’ was born. In Santiago de Cuba, la cuna (the cradle) of ‘SON,’ the city has made a huge impact on music as it does today worldwide. I witnessed the locals gathering, dancing and enjoying their “root” music. I was amazed to see that this was as important to them as the air they breathe.
Born June 22, 1946, in Cuba, Eliades Ochoa learned to play the guitar at age 6. As an adult, he performed with many bands, including Cuarteto Patria, a Cuban folk group. But he really hit it big in 1997 with Buena Vista Social Club, whose self-titled album sold more than 1.5 million copies and awarded an American Grammy.
His musical style has been determined by being born in the Cuban countryside, listening to the stories of those times and assisting farmers guateques, elements that marked his expressive form, and that resulted in a completely self-taught art.
Eliades is a great improviser of spontaneous humor. Professionalism is present, the sheer banality and commercialism disappears.