DGC Ontario Director Sergio Navarretta’s The Cuban opened Canadian Film Festival back in May. The Cuban had its world premiere at the 2019 Whistler Film Festival where it won Best Cinematography and won Best Narrative Film at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. Ahead of its Canadian Film Fest release, we caught up with Sergio to discuss the film and how he’s holding up during the pandemic.
How are you doing during this crisis?
I am doing relatively well, and I am strangely optimistic about the future. As the world has hit the reset button, it is an opportunity for pause, reflection, and to really evaluate one’s life and priorities. There was little good that came out of living a frenetic life, racing and trying to do 1000 things at once. At least for me, the most productive I have been in my life is when I focus completely and obsessively on one thing.
Can you tell us more about your experience directing The Cuban?
Directing The Cuban was cathartic, creatively fulfilling, and a joy from inception right through to post. I was able to work closely with writer Alessandra Piccione, secure my dream cast and really take the time I needed to shoot the film I wanted to shoot. I had a phenomenal crew and thanks to them, I did not have to compromise anything.
What was it like working with The Alzheimer’s Society for the film?
The Alzheimer’s Society, as well as Baycrest Hospital, were a great resource for us as we developed The Cuban. Given what is happening now in long term care facilities, as well as the widening gap between younger generations and our elders, the film tackles some very topical themes. Having their support, and access to researchers in the field, helped confirm that the power of music can transcend even a horrible disease like dementia.
What is the best/most helpful advice you’ve received or given for enduring these trying times?
From very early on in the pandemic, I kept in touch with other artists, filmmakers, family and friends. The message I’ve been sharing is that being pessimistic is a luxury we just don’t have right now. We are in a kind of renaissance period, and we must seize the opportunity to use the trauma of this to push us to create, to work together as a community and be innovative in how we tell our stories. Most importantly, we must continue creating regardless of what post-COVID looks like.
What are you watching/reading/listening to stay positive these days?
I have several books on the go, listening to a lot of music, of all kinds from jazz to classical to top 40 pop, podcasts on spirituality, filmmaking and general interest pieces. I live in the country, so connecting to nature helps a lot. Cooking and baking bread help keep me living in the present moment, and of course, watching classic movies keeps me positive.