ANGEL’S SINGING

Female Cuban quartet brings connection through music in ‘Soy Cubana’ | Port Townsend Film Festival

Laura Jean Schneider ljschneider@ptleader.com
Posted 9/25/21

 

A speech pathologist visits Cuba for an archaeology tour, comes   home, and decides to produce a documentary.

Sounds like the beginning of a riddle, but it really happened, as shown …

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ANGEL’S SINGING

Female Cuban quartet brings connection through music in ‘Soy Cubana’ | Port Townsend Film Festival

An audience of 3,000 at Grand Performances in downtown Los Angeles was treated to the musical talents of the quartet. Miraculously, the Vocal Vidas made it into the country during a terse relationship between the 
U.S. and Cuba.
An audience of 3,000 at Grand Performances in downtown Los Angeles was treated to the musical talents of the quartet. Miraculously, the Vocal Vidas made it into the country during a terse relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.
Photo courtesy of Robin Miller Ungar
Posted

 

A speech pathologist visits Cuba for an archaeology tour, comes
  home, and decides to produce a documentary.

Sounds like the beginning of a riddle, but it really happened, as shown in “Soy Cubana,” the first film produced by Robin Miller Unger.

In 2014, when her tour group was east of Santiago, they came upon the Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes del Morro Castle, named for the three magi of the Bible.

It wasn’t as much the structure that wowed, as the voices rising from the rock walls, like “angels singing in distance,” Unger recalled.

“You know that moment when you get the goosebumps?” Unger asked. That’s when she determined the world should hear the Vocal Vidas, the group of four female career musicians behind the angelic melodies.

She filmed a clip on her phone, determined to bring the magic home with her. Her husband, along with her son Jeremy Ungar, both work in film; when Jeremy showed a clip of the quartet to his friend Ivaylo Getov, he was in. They shot a short film about the singers in Cuba, and it premiered in Santa Barbara in 2016.

It was astonishing to Unger that her short was accepted to 60 film festivals, winning 10 awards.

“There is this connectivity we get as humans through the power of music,” she said.

Soon, folks were asking when the Vocal Vidas were coming to the U.S. Let’s bring them, Unger decided in 2017. Grand Performances in L.A. was on board.

Now, to get the quartet stateside.

But the political climate differed vastly from Unger’s earlier visit, and U.S. relations with Cuba were strained at best.

“Soy Cubana,” a full-length documentary that premiered at the South by Southwest music festival earlier this year, follows the journey of four remarkable women from their homeland of Cuba to their first performance in the US. Without giving too much away, they make it to California after getting their visas approved just 24 hours from take-off.

“Serendipity kicked in,” Unger said.

Watch the almost-unbelievable true story of the Vocal Vidas at ptfilmfest.org. Film becomes available for streaming at 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 23. More about the film at soycubanamovie.com.

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