Film: Spirits of Havana
Starring: Jane Bunnett (www.janebunnett.com)
Released By: 2000 National Film Board of Canada (www.nfb.ca)
Directors: Bay Weyman & Luis O. Garcia
Producer: Peter Starr
Genre: Film Documentary
Length: 90 minutes, 23 seconds
This is a 90 minute documentary film that traces the
trail of flutist Jane Bunnett and husband/trumpeter
Larry Cramer through the musical roots of Cuba today.
Jane is known globally as a white champion of Latin
jazz, with a wealth of cds under her lip. It's only
fitting that she should be the one to capture this
country on film, at a time when Cuban jazz is gaining
in popularity and importance.
The film was produced by Peter Starr, directed by Bay
Weyman and Luis O. Garcia. Together they have enough
Canadian film credits to start another Canada
somewhere. Put out by the National Film Board of
Canada, this film is part Real World (a la Jane's
interview segments on the spot, as well as other
jazzers), part travelogue, part jazz documentary in
which sessions are plundered realistically. Joining
Bobby Carcasses and Amado Dedeu at the state-owned
Egrem Studios is a treat.
Though subtitles are often used, even when English is
spoken by some of the jazz clan, it's as Jane says.
'The greatest thing about being a musician is that you
get to travel places and quickly establish a rapport
with people with whom you might not be able to
communicate in any other way.' The brightness, the
professionalism of the place comes lovingly out on
To catch performances of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas,
the premiere Afro-Cuban rumba group, and Desandann,
the 10-member a capella choir that sing Haitian
Creole, are magical instances that wouldn't open up to
the average US fool. Jane opens people and
performances that might otherwise have remained closed
for too long.
There are touching moments too, as when students blow
their first notes on flute and trumpet. And when Jane
thought she'd lost her instruments; she was desolated.
Comic, moving, touching, and necessary. This is a
necessary film for today.
I'll admit though, I'm not a fan of reality tv. One of
the few people, probably, considering it's all Over
tv. I can't tell what's contrived, and what's 'real,'
since, how natural can you Be when you know the
camera's on? Still, I consider this video to be more
of a modern, historic travelogue than a non-scripted
soap opera. With any luck it'll end up on Spanish
channels, MTV, the History Channel. Works on many
levels. And since the sound is swell, check it out.