In 2015, the U.S. formally re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba after more than half a century, re-igniting curiosity in the island nation and sparking spirited dialogue about the future of relations between both countries.
Only a year prior, gay Cuban-American filmmaker Fermin Rojas and partner Jay Kubesch were on location in Cuba documenting the changing tide inside the country, especially with regard to LGBT rights, with the formation of the country’s first gay men’s musical group, Mano a Mano.
Their new documentary Revolutions, filmed in Cuba and the United States over the last two years, has already been compared to 1999’s Buena Vista Social Club, much in the same way that the documentary defined the country for a generation.
Announced today by DKR Films, which focuses on producing engaging and thought provoking documentaries inspiring social consciousness of global issues, Revolutions will mark the follow-up to the company’s widely successful, critically acclaimed documentary Alumbrones. Directed by Bruce Donnelly, one of DKR’s founders and a producer on Revolutions, the companion film and precursor to Revolutions in many ways took a look at life in Cuba through the eyes of 12 local artists. It was referred to by The Hollywood Reporter as “an affectionate portrait of Havana” and “insightful and memorable” by the New York Times.
Shot over more than two years, Revolutions will bring the viewer on a remarkably powerful emotional journey throughout Cuba and the U.S. during an extraordinary time of transition, beginning with the formation of the group; its transformation from an independent sextet into one of Cuba’s most beloved independent acts; and culminating in their debut tour across the U.S. following renewed diplomatic relations.
Says Rojas, “My family fled Cuba in 1966. When Fidel Castro apologized in 2010 for mistreatment of gay persons in Cuba, the statement seemed empty from a man that had allowed homosexuals to be dragged off to work camps. Then, I learned that gay rights had taken a center stage on the island nation. It sealed my decision to return to Cuba after 46 years. Could the dialogue of gay rights signal the tide of change for free thought and civil liberties? I felt a burning need to have a positive effect on my country’s history. I am not a diplomat or politician; so, what could I do? I know how to be an activist through the language of music, having been part of the gay choral movement in the U.S. for the better part of two decades.”
He continues, “Gay choruses in the U.S. have played a powerful role in championing LGBTQ rights since the night vigil of Harvey Milk’s death. I decided the time was right to create the first gay men’s chorus in Cuba; if not the entire Caribbean. What I didn’t realize was that life, business and gay identity on my still socialist country of birth would be as alien to me as if I had landed on another planet. This is a universal story of every person’s desire to create a legacy.”
“Revolutions is not just the important and timely story of Cuba’s first gay men’s chorus,” says Kubesch. “The film explores how the struggle of one Cuban-American’s attempt to reconnect with his homeland represents the plight of millions of immigrants grappling with the longing to re-engage with their country. A journey to find a way home.”
Says Donnelly, “The film’s deeply personal inner-conflicts, divisions and on-screen battles, juxtaposed with the near-euphoric highs that have come with the group’s sudden dramatic rise to fame, presents everything I love about a complex and rewarding story. That their struggles and sacrifices continue, oft times at great personal cost, is a testament to the message of acceptance and progression lying at the very heart of the group and the film itself. Revolutions is both a very timely film, but also one whose message will forever resonate.”
The film is presently in post-production with a target festival release of Fall 2017. For more information on Revolutions and DKR Films, visit www.dkrfilms.com.