Havana Divas 古巴花旦
directed by S. Louisa Wei
Documentary Feature | 2019 | Hong Kong | 96 min | Cantonese, Spanish, English
Caridad Amaran and Georgina Wong learned the art of Cantonese opera in 1930s Havana. Caridad’s mentor was her foster father, Julian Fong, who immigrated to Cuba in the 1920s after his family forbade him performing opera. Georgina’s father was a famous tailor in Chinatown, who encouraged her to learn Kungfu and lion dance. Although both were the single children, they formed a sisterhood on stage. Throughout the 1940s, Caridad toured cities all over Cuba with Chinese communities, as one of the leading actresses of the opera troupe. Georgina quit opera to attend college, but her study was interrupted by Castro’s 1959 revolution and her required military service. Eventually, she went on to become a diplomat. After retirement and well into their sixties, the two sisters are trying to perform Cantonese opera again. Will they find a stage? Will they find an audience?
S. Louisa Wei’s award-winning Golden Gate Girls (2014) was well reviewed by international media including The Hollywood Reporter, South China Morning Post, and China Daily. The film was the opening and closing film of several international film festivals and many international conferences. Louisa’s first feature documentary, Storm under the Sun (2009, co-director Peng Xiaolian) and recent TV doc Wang Shiwei: The Buried Writer (2016) both obtained acclaim for reflecting Chinese intellectuals’ history. Her feature documentary Havana Divas (2018) has been screening in Hong Kong and selected for film festivals like CAAMFest36 (San Francisco) and Shanghai International Film Festival. The film has received positive reviews from critics and high ratings from audiences. She is currently editing a documentary on Cui Jian with the working title Red Rock—in collaboration with Cui Jian and Emperor Motion Pictures.