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Cuban Dreams will be a Feature Length Documentary produced and directed by Gail Reaben
Cuban Dreams will be a feature length documentary exploring the dreams of the Cuban people. Most Americans only know of the political aspects of this country and the media reports of Cubans trying to escape by boats and rafts. Little is known about who the Cubans really are and what they dream about. They live in a controlled society dominated by restriction and economic hardship.  Does living in this environment cause them to restrict their dreams for themselves and their families or does the soul always find a way to soar, no matter what kind of enclosure it finds itself? 

The average Cuban makes only about $20/month, whether you are a store clerk or a doctor, yet goods cost about the same as their do in the United States. A tube of toothpaste and a box of laundry detergent is more than a week’s salary. But their housing is free and they pay no taxes – no property, no school, no automobile, no sales or income taxes. 

Living in this environment, restriction and freedom – restrictions on what they can earn, restrictions on what they can say or not say, restrictions on where they can go and not go, and restrictions on what they can read—yet they do have freedom from certain financial pressures that we in the U.S. can only dream! about.  What kind of futures do they see for themselves and what do they want? What does a teenager say when he is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up”?  What are those dreams?

With the resignation of Fidel Castro and the baton passed to Raul Castro, the country is on the precipice of change. Perhaps their dreams are as well. Against a backdrop frozen in time from the 1950’s, this film will ask those questions and explore those dreams and aspirations through interviews. They will be done in the houses and towns where they live and work and will include a variety of occupations and age groups such as a young filmmaker who may be frustrated because he doesn’t have the freedom to make any kind of film he wants; a former MIG pilot with the Russians in the 1960’s; a Tobacco Reader – a unique occupation. Going back to the 1800’s, in every cigar factory in Cuba is a man or woman who reads classical literature or the newspaper to the factory workers, keeping them entertained and happy as they roll the tobacco leaves. 

In Cuba, the dating scene is different than ours. With not enough money to take someone to dinner, young couples go down the Havana’s famous Malecon, the long, winding road fronted by a seawall for their evening’s entertainment.  Here, they embrace, talk about their dreams and look out over a moonlit ocean. What are those dreams—to sail away to the United States or stay and make a future together in Cuba?

In Havana, with 3 million people, you would expect a crowded, heavy traffic city.  In the middle of a work day, there are few cars on the road and clearly one third of those are from the 1940’s and 1950’s, passed down from generation to generation.

We will interview some of these cars owners – a man who owns a shiny, early 1950’s blue Plymouth and the owner of one of the many hybrids– a 1956 Chevy with a 1948 Buick hood. We will find out how they keep these mid-century cars running without auto or hardware stores to buy parts. What are his dreams?

As one writer has said, “Cuba is startling—a living museum on the verge of change.  Hollywood couldn’t have made a better period backdrop than Havana’s mix of eclectic architecture from the 1700’s to the 1950’s. . ..  Narrow streets pulsate with fifties cars alongside Russian Ladas while sidecars fill the gaps.  Cuba cannot stand still forever and a lot of its character will disappear, faster than you can press your shutter. There is nowhere in the world like this destination.  It is unique and should be recorded for posterity”. 

Through conversations with its people, Cuban Dreams will explore what is in their hearts and where their dreams lie. With the background of its vibrant, old world architecture magnified by cinematography rich in beauty, and energizing Cuban music playing, it will be a film to be remembered.

PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR: Gail Reaben is the Producer/Director, Editor and Writer of Be Bop Babies, winner of the Platinum Remi Award for Best Documentary Short, Worldfest Film Festival, 2006. In 2007, it screened internationally, including the Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival. The film was selected, in 2007, for PBS’ The Territory, a series of 13 short films chosen from international submissions. She has a BA in Art from The University of St. Thomas and is an award winning painter and a published writer of mystical phenomenon.

Reaben attended Sam Houston State University, the University of Oklahoma, Glassell School of Art, Jamaica School of Art, Kingston, Jamaica, and has a BA in Art from The University of St.Thomas. She is also an award winning painter as well as a published writer of mystical phenomenon.

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