Cuban filmmaker Ian Padron’s first fiction full-length film Habana Station, starring children from the La Colmenita Theater Company, will be premiered in July in movie theatres nationwide
Claudia still remembers the heavy rain produced with hoses for the filming of Havana station. Photo: Carlos Otero BlancoZoom
Habana Station is the name of the new feature-length film by Cuban director Ian Padron featuring young actors Claudia Alvariño, Andy Fornaris, and Ernesto Escalona, members of the internationally known children's theatre company La Colmenita, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors.
The film presents the story of two young boys who become friends despite their differences. The film also boosts a top-notch cast featuring adults Luis Alberto García, Blanca Rosa Blanco, Miriam Socarrás, René de la Cruz and Omar Franco.
“Carlos Roque, my character, has repeated the same grade in school twice,” says Andy. “Carlos is a boy who has not received good guidance in life; his father is serving time in prison and his mother died when he was a young boy. He has been raised by his grandmother who has instilled him with some values.”
“Carlos is sort of explosive, he doesn’t think twice before doing something. When someone speaks to him a bit louder, he reacts aggressively, which is a result of the environment he has always lived in.”
Mario Arlay (Mayito), the character played by Ernesto, is the complete opposite. He is an example of discipline and dedication to school. “Mayito is the quintessential mommy’s and daddy’s boy, whose parents don’t allow him to play and hangout with other children, even though he actually wants to go out and learn about the real Cuba.”
“In the film, my relation with Carlitos in class is not good; in fact I didn’t like him much because he fights with everybody, and I ignore him to avoid problems,” says Ernesto. “However, things change once when I get lost during a May 1st parade at the Revolution Square in Havana, and I end up in La Timba, the neighbourhood where Carlitos lives. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Claudia Alvariño plays the role of the young teacher of Andy and Ernesto, who has a hard time trying to find her two students during the story.
Speaking of the essence of the film, Claudia says: “The real value lies in the human nature of people. Sometimes in life it is not so important to have video games, a huge house, or eating delicious food and travelling to Varadero.”
“Mayito has all of these luxuries, but he had never flown a kite, or played barefoot under the rainfall, or ridden a chivichana [a small handmade wooden skateboard]; all those little things that boys like to do. The beauty of this film is to see how two boys who belong to opposite worlds can become good friends and play together. This has been our objective with the movie.”
Claudia will never forget her first experience in cinema. She had worked in the theatre, television and radio, but she fell in love with the shooting of the film. “I learned something new every minute of the shooting, which made me fall in love with my profession even more. Working with Ernesto and Andy was wonderful, since I have seen them grow as persons and professionals by my side at La Colmenita. Of course, that also helped us to have so much fun all the time during the shooting process, since Ian Padron seemed to know the work of Carlos ‘Tin’ Cremata [director of La Colmenita] very well.”
Claudia fondly recalls the scene where there is a torrential rainfall, made with fire hoses, or the complicated scene she shared with Luis Alberto Garcia and Blanca Rosa Blanco who play the role of Mayito’s parents.
Andy recalls his friends in the neighbourhood of Zamora, in the municipality of Marianao, especially his friend Pulguillo, who taught him how to take care of pigeons for his performance. Meanwhile, Ernesto recalls the exciting street soccer games under the artificial rain, where director Ian Padron also played with the two young actors.
Beautiful and Important
Ian Padron says he was amazed by the work done by the children, who “behaved like any other professional actor, without losing their essence as children. Andy, Ernesto and I became good friends and that is as important as the movie itself. I believe that such empathy will be clearly seen in the film.”
Luis Alberto Garcia agrees with Padron: “If Habana Station turns out to be how I imagined, it will be a beautiful and important film.” Garcia said that it was a real privilege to share the stage with Blanca Rosa Blanco, who he greatly admires, and Ernesto and Andy: “We established a fabulous relationship with these kids; never a relationship of acclaimed actors and inexperienced kids. In addition, these children have a lot of experience from their work with La Colmenita, where they have been since very young ages. I can assure you that working with them was marvellous.”
Luis Alberto Garcia (who has starred in Clandestinos, Adorables mentiras and La vida es silbar) said that he felt attracted by the project from the very moment Ian Padron gave him the script. “Ian Padron and I have a lot of things in common. We sahre similar views on life, art, and culture. In addition, like all Cubans, I have great respect for his father, Juan Padron (creator of the famous Cuban cartoon Elpidio Valdes). I delivered the congratulatory words when he won the National Award for Cinema, and it was not by chance. I mean, Ian is like my little brother who I also admire and respect for his outstanding work as documentary filmmaker.
“In addition, I liked the story right away. I also liked the idea of playing, accompanied by Blanca Rosa Blanco, the role of father of one of those boys who appear to be so different and distant, but so equal and close to the rest at the same time.”
“I am also glad that the valuable Viva Cuba, by Juan Carlos Cremata, will no longer be the only one of its type in the national cinematography, and that other films like this one will emerge.”
Habana Station, which will be premiered in July this year by the Cuban Institute of the Cinematographic Industry and Arts (ICAIC) during its summer program, is a dream come true for its director. This film was possible “thanks to La Colmenita Theatre Company, which saved this project when nobody believed in it.”
The film’s scriptwriters are Felipe Espinet and Ian Padrón, cinematography is by Alejandro Pérez, editing by José Lemuel, music by René Baños, and production by Noel Álvarez. This film will be the second Cuban movie especially devoted to and starred by children. If the country’s audiences react like the people from the municipality of Regla who saw the film during the Ninth Humberto Solas Poor Cinema International Festival, then we must be ready for the next Cuban box-office hit.