By Jose Solis.
Cuba’s Oscar entry The Companion, will surely be seen with new eyes with the recent death of Fidel Castro, as more stories about his decades long regime will come to the surface. Directed by Pavel Giroud, the film is set in a sanatorium in the outskirts of Havana, where HIV positive people were sent to live in the 1980s in an effort of the government to try and contain the epidemic. Each of the patients was assigned a companion, who would report on their behaviors and habits (no smoking or drinking allowed!), one of them is former boxer Horacio (Latin Grammy winner Yotuel Romero) who seeks another chance at glory, while he has to look after the rebellious Daniel (Armando Miguel). The two men develop an unlikely friendship which helps as the channel through which we see other subplots unfold, all of which contribute to helping audiences come up with a more complete portrait of what it was like to live in Cuba. Without resorting to sensationalization, the film both celebrates the country and criticizes the regime in which health came at the price of liberty. I spoke to director Giroud about cult Cuban musicals, his research for the film, and what it’s like to be the first Oscar submission after Cuba and the US have normalized diplomatic relations.
Read the interview after the jump.