On Friday, March 4, the Santa Barbara Film Festival hosted the world premiere of the documentary Free Havana, which follows a group of underground surfers in Cuba. Cuba has banned surfing and other water activities for decades. And to this day, these sports are still “viewed with suspicion by Cuban authorities,” according to the film’s synopsis.
The idea for the film came to the film’s director, Corey McLean, in 2014 when he met Yaya, a Cuban surfer and community leader, while on a trip to the island. Yaya’s goal is to ensure that future generations of Cubans can surf freely. During Corey’s time with Yaya, he also met his friend Frank, a surfboard shaper and one of the best surfers on the island. McLean saw the determination of these surfers to never stop surfing despite all the challenges they faced from the Cuban authorities.
After his trip, McLean returned to the United States with an idea in mind. During a conversation with his friends, Tyler Dunham, Nicholas Weissman and Seth Brown, they all decided to go back and document the lives of these surfers.
The documentary follows Yaya and Frank as they dodge authorities, search for waves, build surfboards from scratch and try to legitimize surfing after the Tokyo Olympics announce it has become an Olympic sport. official.
Free Havana is an inescapable story of passionate surfers chasing their dreams despite all the risks that come with it. The film will be available March 22, 2022, shortly after the filmmakers wrap up their festival run in the United States.
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