Defining One’s Place – Havanah In Bushwick (2012)

Gabe Rodriguez’s first feature as writer and director was 2009’s Fighting Nirvana. Since then, he’s written and directed a number of shorts, including 2010’s Susie in the Afterlife which won the 2011 Spirit Award at Queens World Film Festival. His latest short is Havanah in Bushwick, which premiered at The International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival and is currently making the rounds at various film festivals, including an upcoming showing at the Bergenfield Film Festival.

Havanah stars Larry Costa as Garcia, a Cuban immigrant trying to find his place in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. Garcia, having as much trouble finding a new love as he is having fitting into his surroundings, eventually meets a Russian Muse, portrayed by Dasha Kittredge, who leads him on a journey of discovery outside the actual world of the film and into a surreal continuum where he makes a rather startling discovery about himself.

Though it is, at times, perhaps a bit overly ambitious considering the budget Rodriguez had to work with, in the end, the film makes up for what it may lack in its effects with the story at its heart. Rodriguez shows himself to be willing to move beyond the conventional and in helping his protagonist find his place in the new life he is trying to make for himself, also comments on the place of film within each of our lives, and ultimately seems to be asking which is more true: that where we are shapes us, or that we shape where we are. The writing and narration of the film is quite sharp with some extremely good lines, and leading man Costa, who never actually utters a line in the film, nevertheless has a face and a look that is marvelously expressive. I definitely look forward to seeing more of him, and to seeing what Rodriguez comes up with next.

Take a look below at the trailer for Havanah in Bushwick, and if you get the chance to see it at a festival near you, then check it out.

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