Pedro Ruiz’s new documentary, Havana, From On High, will be presented at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, the largest documentary festival in North America.
Nestled above a decaying district of Havana is a secret village, hidden from the clamour of the streets below. These makeshift houses are inhabited by Arturo, Tita, Pedro, Lala, Roberto, José, Reynol, Juan, Alejandro, María and Omar. Like many other residents in Central Havana, they have been forced upwards by the chronic shortage of housing. From their perch atop the city, they bear witness to a society that is in the process of a major historical transformation after more than 58 years of revolutionary government.
The sun rises over Havana. Rays of sunlight slowly stir the city and its inhabitants from slumber. Morning coffee, the daily chores… The city stretches to the sound of a kaleidoscope of voices that hail us from the rooftops of its highest buildings.
Their houses are rundown, but full of life; bastions of freedom isolated from the hustle and bustle of the streets below. Those who live here claim they are closer to the heavens, closer to God. Dreams and daily strife are the substance of this ensemble portrait that offers the viewer an indiscreet window onto a world far removed from the one tourists are acquainted with, a world in which popular wisdom prevails like a common man’s philosophy of sorts.
And through this window, we are able to imagine what life is like behind all the other windows. An unexpected way to discover the magical capital of Cuba.
Pedro Ruiz Bachelor in Social Communication, filmmaker and photojournalist, has made Tropical animal in Montreal, a portrait of Cuban author Pedro Juan Gutiérrez.
His film The sweet drifting of a child from Haiti immerses in writer Dany Laferrière’s unbridled imagination. He was awarded Public Prize in Montreal International Documentary Festival in 2009. In 2012 he directs Philemon Chante Habana, an intimate odyssey of compositor and singer Philémon Cimon. In 2018, Pedro finishes Havana, from on high, a dazzling and poetic trip into Havana.