Jorge Milanes Despaigne
Habanastation, the latest film by Ian Padron, provokes comments, opinions and assessments not only from specialized critics, but from all movie lovers in Cuba.
I managed to buy the DVD for a modest 3.00 CUC (about $3.30 USD) from an itinerant vendor of pirated CDs. I made myself comfortable in my armchair in front of the TV to enjoy a film about which I’d heard only praise.
In the film, the main characters are two children. One is lower-class Carlos, who lives in a mythical district known as La Tinta (though we know it’s Havana’s La Timba quarter), while the other boy is Mayito, who comes from a wealthy family that swaddles him in such attention that he’s unaware of the world beyond his home in capital’s upscale Miramar community.
One object has particular significance in the film: a PlayStation video game console, which is the reason a poor kid and a rich one are able to forge a friendship, though — like in life itself — chance plays an inescapable role in the coherent development of the story.
One can only find the movie emotionally moving as the two children share their contrasting realities outside of school. When Mayito gets lost in La Tinta and he finds Carlos in this realm in which everything is so different: the food, work, money, a blackout, games, and even the rain. A fight breaks out over Carlos’ kite.
Finally Mayito’s hands his PlayStation to Carlos so that his new friend can play it for the first time. That last scene is full of emotion that it sensitizes the most skeptical heart.
This is the Havana station, where even children measure their affection based on material wealth…where owning a PlayStation is necessary to be recognized among one’s classmates. But in our modern society there are also those like Carlos and Mayito, children who are paradigms of hope: One comes to understand that violence doesn’t solve problems and the other discovers happiness in sharing his own belongings.