For the subjects of the documentary “Hecho a Mano,” creating art from their hands is their passion. These four Cuban immigrants tell their tale not only of coming to America and making a new life here, but also the daily discipline of perfecting their craft. This film, created by a team including director/producer Brett O’Bourke and writer/ producer Gaspar González is a unique glimpse into the Cuban experience.
They steered away from focusing on stereotypes of Cuba while letting their “characters’” heritage become secondary to being an artist … on how each contributes to the world through their own two hands. The stories of the unique individuals are told in Spanish with English subtitles.
“Even if it weren’t out of necessity, even if all four were fluent, we felt this story still needed to be told in Spanish. So many documentaries about Cubans are told in English. We didn’t want this to be translated. We wanted them to be able to tell their stories in their own way,” says González.
For Tony López, sculpting is his life. “I’m not crazy, but I’m obsessed,” he says about his work. He adds, “Everybody would say to me, ‘Stop sculpting. You’re going to die from hunger.’ I’d reply, ‘If I die from hunger, I’ll die happy.’”
Brothers Nelson and Ronald Currás are mosaic artists and identical twins. “They finish each other’s sentences and often speak saying ‘I’ when it is obvious they are talking about the two of them ...” says O’Bourke. “They added color to the film.”
The vivid hues these two create on each mosaic are the result of a painstaking process. Each color must be applied not once, but four times on each. But they don’t seem to mind the laborious task. “Discipline is what makes you an artist,” they say.
Francisco “Paquito” Hechavarría is a pianist. He has played with the likes of Sinatra and at clubs in Miami like the popular Boom Boom room. “I remember people lining up out the door. I lived that.” He talks about bringing personal style into each artistic endeavor. “Not every piano player, even if he is 100% Cuban, plays the tumbao the same way. You create your own style,” he explains.
The lives of these four were masterfully interwoven into one overall theme about creativity and embracing life from a hands-on approach. O’Bourke and González, both Cuban, say the film is a way of honoring their parents, their ancestors and their own struggles. They hope to create “Hecho a Mano 2” soon featuring Cuban female artists.
For more information on this production team, visit www.commonmachine.com. -DUO