For three weeks in May, So It Goes Films was asked to travel to Cuba and chronicle history in the making. That history was MANANA music festival, setup by two Brits and a Cuban. Against all odds this pioneering trio had put together Cuba’s first ever international music festival. And it wasn’t to take place in Havana but rather its poorer, blacker cousin in the east: Santiago de Cuba, where so many Afro-Cuban musical traditions were born and some of the island’s finest players hailed from.
MANANA was not simply three days of wonderful music; the weeks beforehand saw collaborations between iconic international artists and their Cuban contemporaries in the venerable old studios around the city. So It Goes director Joshua Bullock was there to make several films documenting the collaboration between UK electronic duo Soundspecies and the Afro-Cuban drummers Ache Meyi, as well as world-famous producer Quantic who recorded an album with local musicians in such a short timeframe we all still wonder how he did it.
Stay posted for the films which will go out on Havana Club’s Havana Cultura site in July. Meanwhile here are some wonderful photos from photographer Theo Clarke and a short video teaser to give you an idea of life in the Santiago de Cuba.
The full write-up of this Cuban odyssey will appear in October’s So It Goes Issue.8.
All images © Theo Clarke.