ABOUT THE FILM
In 2019, the legendary American rock band Blondie was invited to perform in Havana, Cuba as part of a cultural exchange through the Cuban Ministry of Culture. This was a 40 year dream come true for the influential band, especially for one of its founding members, songwriter & guitarist Chris Stein who had longed to visit Cuba for most of his life. Artist and director Rob Roth documented this special moment and career highlight by shooting a short film called “BLONDIE: VIVIR EN LA HABANA”. The film is broken up into 3 parts – Water, Fire and Air – and present a meditation on the experience as well as highlights from the two-night live musical performances with special guests Alain Perez, David Torrens and Afro-Cuban rock band Sintesis at Havana’s famous Teatro Mella.
Filmed in hauntingly beautiful 16mm, 8mm film and digital the triptych becomes a poetic representation of the past and the present, of dreams and reality. With narration from Blondie founders Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke, providing a glimpse into the passion and beauty they discovered in Havana and the magic moments of performing alongside incredible Cuban musicians. “BLONDIE: VIVIR EN LA HABANA” touches on subjects ranging from the influence of Cuban artists, the crossover from Havana to NYC, politics and the last minute surprise and disappointment that Chris Stein unexpectedly didn’t go on the trip. It is a dream-like portrait of this legendary band’s first experience in Havana and of the magical exchange between musicians from the two cities each call home and their intertwined influence.
BLONDIE: VIVIR EN LA HABANA
Rob Roth is a multidisciplinary artist and director based in New York City, and received his BFA from Pratt Institute. Roth has continually combined a variety of media in his distinctive works of art–using theater, film, audio, and performance–to create the richly textured work showcased at such venues as the New Museum for Contemporary Art, PS122, Abrons Art Center, Here Arts, Museum of Arts and Design, Deitch Projects, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.
Roth’s poetic visual language springs from his initial training as a painter. As an artist and believer in theater as ritual, he creates lyrical and mysterious works within a deconstructed narrative. His explorations of cinematic language and form within live performance and installation, result in creations of haunting imagery influenced by renaissance painting, classic Hollywood films, and mystical chemistry, that combined, plumb the depths of eroticism, sexuality and death.
In 2018 Rob premiered the highly praised haunting theater piece, Soundstage, featuring actor Rebecca Hall which the New York Times described as “deftly evokes the fleeting transition from wakefulness to dreaming”. Roth also directed the music video “Doom or Destiny” by Blondie featuring Joan Jett which appeared on several “Best of 2017” lists as well as performing in Atlas Obscura’s site specific Into the Veil event at Green-Wood Cemetery. Additionally Roth also just finished creative direction for Debbie Harry’s long awaited memoir ‘Face It’ becoming an instant New York Times bestseller.
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