Monday night was the NY premiere of Vuelos Prohibidos, Forbidden Flights, a film by Cuban director Rigoberto Lopez. The film tells the story of Monique, a French woman, who meets a Cuban man while at the airport waiting for her flight to La Havana. Monique is going to meet her Cuban father, whom she has never met before and who recently discovered her existence. Due to weather conditions, the flight to Havana is canceled and Monique and her new friend become lovers. But the movie is not exactly a love story. It is about Monique’s journey to find her father. Through Monique and Mario’s short and passionate relationship, we discover Cuba.
The film’s director, Rigoberto López, said he wanted to create a movie that showed a reflection of Cuban reality. He explained that usually this reality was shown through comedy, but he wanted to show those realities in a different way. He wanted people to think about it, to reflect. The story which mostly takes place in Paris; with clips of Cuba, showing the contrasts of a country spanning from the modernity of Vedado and Miramar, to the “other Havana.” Lopez explains, “I want to have an honest dialogue with our reality because it is not a matter of sugarcoating reality but rather to be honest with reality and our problems.”
The film’s main protagonist is Sanaa Alaoui, a French women of Moroccan descent. Mario, Monique’s airport lover is played by Pablo Fernandez Gallo, a Cuban singer. The chemistry in the film is undeniable. Both roles are played exquisitely.
Forbidden Flights was produced in Cuba in collaboration between the Dominican Republic and Cuba under an agreement with Duende Films and former President of Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez and his foundation, FUNGLODE, (Fundación Global de Democracia y Desarrollo). It is a co-production of the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry in partnership with the Cuban Ministry of Culture.
This film comes at a critical time, when Cuba and the USA are just starting to normalize relations. Mr. Agustin, the CEO of Duende Films, says, “With President Obama recently taking action in charting a new course in U.S. relations with Cuba, as a Cuban filmmaker myself, I am not political but I do want to see the people of Cuba opened to the world and the world exposed to its wonderful people… my people. It’s all about the people for me. This is why I got involved with this film.” He goes on to say, “If the political back lash comes, I will face it but it is not about that for me. I just want my people to have the same freedom of expression artist everywhere have and the same outlet for their voices, this is why I am bringing this film to U.S. theaters.”
Duende Films is a film distribution company affiliated with Duende Media Inc., which focuses on bringing to the theatrical market in the United States, the largest Spanish-language film successes. With over 15 years of service to the Hispanic market in the United States, and with a management team that not only knows the demographic, but is also a part of that group. Duende Films is uniquely positioned to present the US Latino audience the films they really want to see, with a detailed and comprehensive approach to entertainment that exposes the different colors and customs of our Hispanic heritage. “Our films, for us.”
Vuelos Prohibidos/Forbidden Flights was recently featured in the Festival de Cine Global Dominicano in 2015 and made its debut in New York at the Walter Reade Cinema in Lincoln Center on April 25th in an event hosted by Mega 97.9. The film will be in theaters stateside (NY, Miami and LA) on Friday April 29th.