When a naïve pre-med student gets her first job in a nursing home, an unexpected friendship with Luis, an elderly Cuban musician, reignites her love of music and changes her life forever.

Cuban, The

Drama | Music & Musicals | 2020

Cast

Louis Gossett Jr., Ana Golja, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Lauren Holly, Giacomo Gianniotti

Synopsis

Nineteen year-old Mina Ayoub is a pre-med student who has given up her dream of becoming a singer. Orphaned as a baby in Afghanistan, Mina’s grandfather sent her to Canada at the age of eight to live with a lone aunt, Bano.

A former doctor herself, Bano wants nothing more than to see her own dreams fulfilled through her niece, and she pressures her to pursue a career in medicine. Although she dutifully complies, Mina’s heart isn’t in it, and she longs to return to a better time when, as a child, she and her grandfather would sing and play music together. Thanks to Bano, Mina has a part-time job in a long term care home. But she has trouble finding her footing under the watchful eye of her tough supervisor, Nurse Baker.

Then, she meets Luis.

Luis is one of Mina’s most enigmatic patients – he has dementia and Alzheimer’s and spends his time in a wheelchair in a quiet corner of the room, retreated inside his own mind. He has no visitors, and Mina can relate to his solitude. They say he doesn’t have long, that his condition has advanced rapidly, and that Mina shouldn’t expect him to recognize her from one day to the next. But then, there’s the music.

A poster of Benny More inspires Mina to hum a jazz tune that, to her surprise, ignites a spark inside him. As each day passes the music awakens Luis more and more until the colourful world of his past becomes vibrant and real again. Luis reacts, reminisces, dances, reveals his incredible life as a famous musician in Cuba, and talks about the one great love who was left behind. As their friendship blossoms, Mina gradually comes into her own and even begins to enjoy life and friends and a new boyfriend. Through Luis, Mina remembers her grandfather back home, and reconnects with her own love of music.

But as Luis becomes more and more awake to the world, tensions rise at the nursing home. Mina is seen as a disturbance, her job is threatened and Bano has little time for her behaviour. At the same time, Luis’ estranged son, Michael, announces his plans to move Luis into palliative care. Desperate to help him out of his isolation, Mina resolves to break Luis out of the home and, with the help of her friends, grants him his one last wish to ‘return’ to Cuba and perform on stage again.

Producers

Taras Koltun, Alessandra Piccione, Ana Golja, Sergio Navarretta

Director

Sergio Navarretta


Winner, Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival, 2020
Winner, Best Cinematography Whistler Film Festival, 2019