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Laura Blum

Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for She also publishes on Thalo



Director Paddy Breathnach's Cuban “Viva”

Irish director Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Shrooms) gleaned the idea for his latest film Viva during a visit to Cuba 20 years ago. Now that film, a study in transformation, arrives as the socialist island country braces for inevitable change.

Viva follows a gay 18 year old named Jesús (Héctor Medina), who styles wigs for the drag queen joint run by Mama (Luis Alberto Garcia). Jesus himself dreams of taking the spotlight, as glam alter ego Viva. At the other end of the masculinity spectrum comes Ángel (Jorge Perugorría), a former boxing champion with traditional notions of machismo. He is Jesús’s long-absent father, and when he suddenly resurfaces after a prison term, soaked in whiskey and testosterone, there goes Viva’s dramatic calling. Yet just when it seems that Ángel is a devil and Jesús cannot be resurrected in drag, their shared desire for family connection and their dire financial straits bring them towards a climactic redemption.

Breathnach spoke with me about his Cuban saga, which was Ireland's hedge for the Best Foreign Language Film statue at the 88th Academy Awards:


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