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Scene from "Paraiso" (photo © teo-film)

A couple of old plastic bottles and a few pieces of driftwood are enough for them. They create instruments and music – powerful, vibrating, explosive; the rhythm of young Cuba.

Paraíso is not about the European cliché of Cuba. It is not about romantic old cars and Buena Vista Social Club. It is about a group of young men. Around singer Yasel they have formed the band Madera Limpia (Pure Wood). They live in the eastern Cuban village of Guantánamo, where there is nothing going on, except for rain, sex and poverty.

And yet, this young band is playing the music of the street. Rapid, hot and aggressive. The pulsating Changüi mixed with rap and hip hop – on wooden instruments. “Our music,” says Puro, the man at the trés-guitar "you have to dance, to feel – in order to hear it." In personal confessions to the camera, the musicians explain what they think about life: love, infidelity, sex, money and success. "My priority in life is to live; while I live I can have illusions, dream of getting what I lack, and what I lack is everything. While I live, I can do it," says Yasel.

Mixing black-and-white images from music videos with the color of everyday life, this film is an amazingly authentic close-up of Cuban reality, capturing both the "vida loca" and the boredom and frustration on the island.
Genre Music
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2003
Director Alina Teodorescu
Screenplay Alina Teodorescu, Sorin Dragoi
Cinematography Sorin Dragoi
Alina Teodorescu
Madera Limpia
Sorin Dragoi
Cast Yasel Gonzalez Rivera, Gerald Thomas Collymore, Rafael Ocana Creagh, Yoannis Méndez Centeno, Angel Rubio Espinoza, David Ortiz Savon, Pedro Abys Garcia Sanchez, Yorlandy Paz Tellez, Amarillis Balleux Ungelles
Producers Alina Teodorescu, Sorin Dragoi, Madalina Dordea-Finkelstein
Production Company TEO-FILM/Munich
Length 90 min
Format 35 mm, color, b&w
Original Version
Subtitled Versions English, German
Sound Technology Dolby Stereo
Festivals Hof 2003, IDFA Amsterdam 2003, Sao Paulo 2003, Rio 2003, Goteborg 2004, Ghent 2004
Awards German Cinematography Award 2004
With backing from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern

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