A flesh eating zombie film is being produced in Cuba with a budget that is huge by Cuban standards but quite modest almost everyplace else. Juan de los Muertos — “Juan of the Dead” , is the only zombie flick to have ever been produced in Cuba since the 1959 revolution in that country. The film flirts in a comical way with sensitive topics in Cuban life such as private enterprise and Cuban exiles. The film is due to be released in spring or summer of 2011.
In the film, zombies have taken over Havana. The response of the state controlled media is to blame their presence on Cuban exiles backed by the US government. In addition to the politically sensitive issue of Cuban expatriates, “Juan de los Muertos” touches on the issue of Cubans who work in private enterprise to make ends meet. Yahoo News reports as follows.
“State-run media blames the whole thing on government opponents backed by Cuba’s archenemies in Washington, but Juan knows better — and comes up with a plan.
Together with his sidekick, Lazaro — described by the filmmakers as “just as lazy, but twice as stupid” — Juan puts out the word that he is open for business.
Has your grandmother been turned into a zombie? Is your uncle stumbling about with blood coming out of his mouth?
Juan and Lazaro promise to get rid of your undead loved ones for just 15 Cuban convertible pesos ($16) a pop, and to clean up the mess for an extra 20 ($21).”
The film, which is a joint production of Spain’s La Zanfona Producciones, two Spanish television channels, the government of Spain’s Andalucia region and the state-run Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematography, is going into production this week, with shooting scheduled for October. It will be promoted in Spanish speaking markets abroad, as well as Europe and the United States.
The film shows a desire in Cuba to tolerate a wider range of artistic and political expression. Cuban music, art and other forms of entertainment have long had the potential to be marketable commodities abroad. There is an overlap in Cuban musical tastes with some American markets as well as a fanatic devotion to baseball in Cuba that could make for some interesting business possibilities.
Will Cuba evolve in a pragmatic manner towards a market economy? Perhaps freedom will come to Cuba through evolution rather than revolution. “Juan of the Dead” may be a movie about zombies, but it could be very interesting to those who are interested in taking the pulse of contemporary Cuba.
In what seems to be a straight to DVD movie, former action star Wesley Snipes will star in ‘Havana Heat‘ about a Homeland Security agent who is murdered while undercover in Havana, and the investigation which follows that death.
The film will also star former hearthrob Joey Lawrence, who looks like he’s jacked as all hell.
Havana Heat will start shooting November with a cast that includes Michael Dudikoff, mixed martial artist Heath Herring, Puerto Rican actress Zulay Henao (Fighting), Lorena Rincon, Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia Jr. and Nicolas Brown (Kites).
Italy and Cuba have signed a co-production agreement under which Silvio Berlusconi-owned Medusa is expected to shoot a comedy by Italo helmer Paolo Virzi on the Caribbean isle.
The Italo-Cuban co-production treaty was inked in Havana by Italian state film department chief Gaetano Blandini and Omar Gonzalez, topper of Cuban film institute Icaic.
Blandini has said he hopes the treaty will turn Italy into “a gateway into Europe” for Cuban cinema, adding that the closer rapport will make it easier for young Cuban filmmakers to liaise with Italian producers.
Meanwhile, Italy looks set to make the most of Cuba’s spectacular locations and low-cost prices.
The Italian delegation in Havana included Medusa prexy Carlo Rossella, who was quoted by Cuban press reports as saying Virzi will helm the first Italo-Cuban co-prod in the works. A Medusa spokesman in Rome declined immediate comment.
Virzi shortly before travelling to Cuba said he would like to shoot a Havana-set satire about Western sexual tourism on the Communist isle.
As part of the Italo-Cuban exchange Virzi is currently being celebrated in Cuba with a retro of his biting social laffers, including his latest, titled “Her Whole Life Ahead of Her,” a scathing sendup of telemarketing and corporate greed.