Cuba in a Bottle takes you deep into the hidden heart of Cuba

Anyone with even a fleeting relationship with Cuba knows that rum has influenced virtually every aspect of Cuban culture. From belief systems to music and revolution, rum has been there, playing its part. Cuba in a Bottle, tells its story throughout each step of the island’s history, reflecting the melting pot that is Cuba’s past and present. The project was a labor of love for all involved and includes over 12 mins of hand-drawn animation and an extravagant soundtrack of 16 tracks of historically authentic Havana sounds that were scored and recorded with a full Cuban band. This is complemented by a number of live performances of the film’s specially composed theme song, Cuba embotellado from musicians spanning every Cuban genre from back-street Rumba jams to Son, Feeling, and Hip Hop.

Ben Holman and Charlie Inman’s film takes a deep dive into Cuban culture and history to explore how one remarkable island, and the drink it produces, have had such a profound influence on the way the modern world thinks, sounds and moves. From rarely filmed religious ceremonies to the barracks of the sugar cane cutters and the dance studios of Carlos Acosta, the story is told through interviews with legends from the world of music, sport, and film as well as a host of Cuban rum experts and master blenders.

Award-winning Director Ben Holman has divided the last 15 years between Rio De Janeiro and London, directing everything from commercials to feature documentaries. His documentaries include Walk it Home; about a blues band from Beirut and their pilgrimage to Mississippi, and This is Bate Bola; about the Rio de Janeiro’s underground carnival which has just been released after a successful festival run. His recent film The Good Fight also won a number of awards including Best Documentary Short at Tribeca Film Festival 2017.

The Official Trailer for Cuba in a Bottle by Ben Holman & Charlie Inman

Charlie Inman started out as a musician but soon found he preferred travelling the world poking around in people’s lives with a camera and spent his twenties directing factual Television shows. He has spent the last decade working in advertising, making everything from b to feature docs at the agency of the decade Mother London.

Ben and Charlie share a love of music, of Latin America and emotive storytelling and have worked together on a number of projects over the years, including Rumba: La Clave, which was an exploration of the roots of Cuban music, an award-winning campaign for IKEA and a feature-length music documentary with Gilles Peterson in Brazil called Brasil Bam Bam Bam: the story of Sonzeira.

Writer Dave Broom has spent his whole working life in the world of drink, before finally, in 1995, becoming a writer specialising in spirits. Of his 12 books, two: Drink: Never Mind the Peanuts and Rum won the Glenfiddich award. His Whisky: The Manual was awarded Best Spirits Book at the Spirited Awards in 2015 and the World Atlas of Whisky has been called a landmark publication. In 2013 he was awarded the Communicator of the Year at the ISWC awards and in 2015 was voted Best Spirits Writer at the Spirited Awards.

Cuba in the bottle poster

“We’ve always been impressed by Havana Club’s promotion of Cuban culture. It’s really great to see a brand truly grasp the importance of giving the people something they actually want to see and hear. Through Havana Cultura, they’ve made their brand culturally relevant, whilst actively contributing to Cuban culture and its spread around the world. So when a few years ago they asked us to collaborate with Gilles Peterson and make a film about Rumba, one of the main roots of all Cuban culture, we leaped at the chance. The resultant project, Havana Club Rumba Sessions: La Clave was a voyage of discovery for us and we were delighted to be able to share what we learned with the world, whilst doing our bit for Rumba’s recognition as the foundation of pretty much anything groovy and Latin. With Cuba in a Bottle, we were given the chance to get back to Cuba and dig even deeper, into the past, present, and future. We always knew rum was important to Cuba, but we could never have imagined quite how intertwined their stories are. It was a fascinating journey, accompanied by our unbelievably knowledgeable guide, Dave Broom. This project allowed us to showcase some of the most exciting aspects of Cuban culture and try to understand why this unique island that has had such a huge impact on the world.” – Ben & Charlie

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