By KENDRA SITTON | Uptown News
The Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park has debuted its latest Imax film offering — this time putting Cuba in the spotlight with “Cuba: Journey to the Heart of the Pacific.” The giant dome theater at the museum showcased the wonders of the healthiest coral reef in the Caribbean and the island’s historical architecture as well as ballet, holidays, and cars that make up the vibrant culture. Museum officials said, like movies about outer space and the depths of the ocean, this film gives people an opportunity to learn about somewhere inaccessible to them, even if it is not physically distant.
The documentary avoided delving into the current news of changing presidents and policy with the U.S., but before it was first shown at the museum, director Peter H. Chang explained the difficulties they faced because of those realities. His team was on the ground when it was announced the U.S. would allow travel between the two countries. They also witnessed tensions between the two states rise again, cutting off hopes of an open Cuba. He explained they made the film over four years because of the major changes in the country.
While it avoided current events, the movie did focus on the relationship between the past, present and future. These time periods were embodied by three Cubans the filmmakers followed. The city historian of Havana, Eusobio Leal, represented the past as he took filmmakers through the historic landmarks he carefully renovated and preserved. His activism has made him a legendary figure in architectural preservation, to the point that the film shows many people stopping in the street to greet and thank him.
For the present, two marine biologists dove in one of the largest marine preserves to find out why coral there was thriving when all throughout the rest of the Caribbean it is dying. Fernando Bretos and Dr. Daria Siciliano discovered that the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992, which previously supplied chemical fertilizers to the island, led to the country’s return to organic farming. Without the toxic run-off from farming, the coral became healthy again.
Cuba has the largest ballet school in the world, so to represent the future, the film shows 17-year-old Patricia Torres attending the National Ballet School of Cuba as she dreams of being a professional ballerina in the world-renowned Cuban Ballet Company.
The stories were interesting, and a lot of beautiful imagery of the island and culture were packed into 40 minutes. However, the one drawback of the film was the poor sound-mixing. A few of the voices sounded tinny in the surround sound and at one point, the voiceover cut off mid-sentence.
Even for those who have been to Cuba, it’s unlikely they have seen all the protected lands and coral reefs shown in the film. And for those who haven’t been to Cuba, the film is a visually beautiful introduction to a land lost in time.
The movie will show at the Fleet Science Center at noon, 3 and 5 p.m. everyday.
— Kendra Sitton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.