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Baracoa review – innocently poetic journey through Cuban childhoods

This part fiction, part documentary film captures the spontaneity of young friends Leonel and Antuàn

Directed by Pablo Briones, Sean Clark, and Jace Freeman, here is a film that blurs the lines between fiction and documentary as it accentuates bittersweet childhood connections, full of teases, mischief and innocent tenderness. Following Leonel and Antuàn, a pair of friends who grew up in the small Cuban town of Pueblo Textil, this mesmerising promenade through abandoned landscapes doubles as a journey to the cusp of adulthood.

With a script based on the real-life relationship and conversations between the two friends, Baracoa has an authentic spontaneity of children’s interactions so rarely captured in fiction films that rely on precocious child actors. The camera quietly observes the pair’s wanderings through ruined and deserted compounds whose austerity is transformed by the boys’ imagination. At one point, Leonel and Antuàn pretend to drive as they sit atop a broken down, rusted car frame. The moment is poetic, yet also full of melancholy. Soon, they will not find such childish daydreams so entertaining.

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