East of Havana (2007)

East of Havana (2007)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Three talented hip-hop musicians struggle to make themselves heard in a repressive culture in this documentary from filmmakers Jauretsi Saizabitoria and Emilia Menocal. While rap and hip-hop are often cited as the most pervasive and influential musical forms to emerge in public consciousness since 1980, in Cuba rappers and DJs are still waging an uphill battle to gain official acceptance. Soandry (real name Soandres Del Rio Ferrer), Magyori Martinez Veitia, and Mikki Flow (real name Michel Hermida) are three lyricists from Alamar, a small blue-collar community, who are members of a hip-hop collective known as "El Cartel." While they have talent, El Cartel are not recognized as "real" musicians under Cuba's communist government, and must scramble for a chance to perform. Mikki Flow is one of a handful of Cuban underground rappers who have organized the nation's first and only hip-hop festival, but when the threat of a hurricane gives officials an excuse to shut down the festival, Mikki and his compatriots must find a way to reorganize the gathering under the radar of the nation's official music committees. As El Cartel search for new venues for their music, Mikki, Soandry, and Magyori talk about the rise of Cuban hip-hip in the 1990s, the realities behind their conscious lyrics, and Soandry's relationship with his brother, who has defected to the United States. East of Havana was screened as part of the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival.
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for East of Havana

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (10)

A rare glimpse of everyday life in Cuba, where big questions and obstacles confront the rappers at seemingly every turn.

Full Review… | March 8, 2007
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

East of Havana sets individual stories against the bitter, resilient landscape of Cuba's political history. For the youth in the film, music doesn't just have a purpose, it is a purpose, and the artists find in hip-hop a 'mental freedom.'

Full Review… | March 8, 2007
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

If you thought that the Buena Vista Social Club was all that needed to be said about Cuban music, now there's East of Havana, which is about the Cuba rap scene.

Full Review… | February 15, 2007
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

East of Havana lacks the grace or intelligence to let the music speak for itself.

Full Review… | February 9, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

There's a beat, but we never quite see who's dancing to it.

Full Review… | February 7, 2007
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

The film makes an ironic point about Cuba: This is a land where the grandparents are revolutionaries (or at least say they are) but the kids are yearning for capitalist globalization.

February 2, 2007
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for East of Havana

Being Cuban but not a big fan of rap music, I was torn about watching this documentary! After it sat on my DVR for about 6 months, I decided that I would give it a shot. Immediately after the first few panning scenes of Cuba, I was glad that I decided to watch it. The movie was more about the hip-hop movement than the actual music. I loved seeing how these people are living in Castro's regime and making music that is not the norm for Cubans and most of it is censored in Cuba. The deeper that we delve into these peoples lives the more I realize that Cuba is in very bad shape! Although I'm not a fan of hip-hop I indeed liked the message in their music!

Daryl D
Daryl D

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