Photo: ICAIC

Director Tomás Piard has reconciled a good number of Cubans, and especially Havana residents, with national cinematography. For some years, the “aesthetics of misery” used to depict Havana on the big screen has become almost grotesque. Now in his new film, La ciudad (The City) we can fully appreciate the song that features as the title of this article,“Hermosa Habana”(Beautiful Havana), lyrics and music by Rolando Vergara, a hit by the band Los Zafiros.

“I love this city, so I made a film where you see the beautiful part of our Havana...They are real places that are there for us to admire, for us to enjoy,” Piard said at a press conference in the Fresa y Chocolate Cultural Center, after a screening for critics.

The exchange began precisely talking of this display of “the beautiful face of Havana,” and Piard reiterated that this city exists despite the “aesthetic of misery that prevails in most of our films. So why not also transit through her instead of the well-trodden path of the crumbling facades? If I'm talking about the restoration of the city why not walk around the well-preserved buildings and sites?”

There are many location shots in this film which highlight the city’s beauty. El Capitolio and the Prado feature, as well as Parque Central with all its surrounding beauty, plus the Malecón, “that line that connects the old city with the new and functions as a city balcony where we all go.”

The director and screenwriter added: “The interiors are not miserable either, it's all clean and they are homes to people who have a certain level, both economic and intellectual, but have suffered greatly. My intention was to move away from the vulgarity and ugliness escaping somewhat from the same misery as always.”

La ciudad, defined by its director as “a very contemporary human and spiritual drama,” is structured into three separate stories that take place in one day in 2015 and are based on the problem of emigration and its consequences.

His characters are interpreted by Luisa María Jiménez, Dania Splinter, Herminia Sánchez, Patricio Wood, Omar Alí, Héctor Echemendía, Carlos Solar, Martha Salema and Adriana Febles, and a tenth and very important protagonist according to Piard himself, El Capitolio.

Produced by RTV Comercial and Cubavisión, in collaboration with the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), La ciudad saw Raúl Rodríguez and Nelson García as directors of photography and art, respectively, with editing by Daniel Diez Jr. and original music by Patricio Amaro.

La ciudad is undoubtedly a more accessible proposition than others within Piard’s cinematography, including El Viajero inmóvil (2008), a difficult film, with little dialogue, eclectic concepts, part documentary, part fiction, following the modern trend of blurring boundaries, to which is added, as the director has said, the fact that it is inspired by nothing less than the monumental novel Paradiso, by José Lezama Lima. Another more recent example is Los desastres de la guerra (2012), a road movie, lasting an hour and a half, about the possibility of an aim and also about life after that end.

Piard (Havana, 1948) with his new film, now premiering nationwide, gives his hometown back to the big screen, that beautiful Havana that many want to see because it is cosmopolitan and dreamy, with the charm of its sunsets on the Malecón and its restored colonial area...