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Review: Viva Cuba Libre: Rap Is War (2013)

Directed by: | 78 minutes |

A new revolution is raging in the streets of Cuba, and the young followers fighting for change this time have been forced into a marginalized life of uncertainty. This is shown in the combative documentary “Viva Cuba Libre: Rap Is ” by Jesse Acevedo, who was born in Mexico and who works in Los Angeles. The subject of his is the popular rap group Los Aldeanos (‘the villagers’, because Cuba they say is actually a big village), consisting of Bian ‘El B’ and , two young artists who use their to call for to address the changes and abuses of the current Cuban regime in hard language. It is an understatement to say that they are not grateful for this. Their music is not played on any official radio station, they are never booked as a main act and only perform when a sympathetic or friendly booker allows them to play a song. Often enough, even that is prematurely broken up by the repressive police. The boys burn and distribute their albums themselves, due to lack of other channels, and thus reach many thousands of Cubans. With a single rumor of a performance by the two, the streets are filled with young Cubans, excited to witness a performance by Los Aldeanos. The party-critical lyrics are sung lustily, but the boys and girls choose their words very carefully in front of the documentary makers’ camera. Fear and mistrust are deeply rooted in today’s Cuban society.

Hip-hop as a weapon against the established order is not a new story of course, and the underground character of the group certainly enhances the value of the music, but it becomes more and more clear that more is going on here. Parallel to the portrait of the two musicians is the sad story of the Cruz , told by an inconsolable and terrified mother, who her two sons disappear in prison after they were arrested for listening to Los’s music on their porch. Aldeanos. A visit to an anonymous slum, hidden from view by a neat village façade, behind which is a miserable heap of “houses” scattered on a hill. The residents say they have no choice, this is where they have been placed and here they will stay. Less impressive, for example, is the sideways narrated storyline of Bian’s pregnant girlfriend, which adds little except that it works towards the somewhat obvious conclusion: the boys hope that their children will have a freer life and can live their dreams in complete confidence. chase after. Not featured in the film: Los Aldeanos have performed several times abroad, including in Miami, where a large Cuban community lives. That the government allows this is good news, why the documentary does not tell this is unclear.

And yet, given the limited resources with which the director and his anonymous cameraman had to make this documentary, in combination with the threat of being arrested or ordered to abort filming, this is a film that must be seen, if only to once again to be confronted with Cuban facts and to see the voices of the hopeful young generation heard.

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