Interview with Cuban filmmaker Lester Hamlet on new film: ya no es antes

Mayra and Esteban represent many people at the same time. They represent all those people who once put their love to the test and with the passing of time, must overcome what they imposed as a limit. But it is not the same thing 40 years later; it's not so easy… It's not the same thing any more.

And because of that, I already want to watch the film, which is still in the editing process, to be premiered next December. Its director, Lester Hamlet, encourages me to see it though he warns me that "the film is made for people in their fifties, for a generation that has the same dilemmas as Mayra and Esteban, and you are not very aware of them yet."

But we will be?

Of course, something similar happens to all of us in our lives. For that reason, Weekend en Bahía, by Alberto Pedro, the play I was inspired by to make Ya no es antes, is so valid for its success in the 1980s and 1990s, when Mirtha Ibarra and Ramón Veloz played the leading roles. The staging of Weekend en Bahía included the music of The Beatles. Can you imagine how many memories it brings? I preferred to use our music, which is also heartrending… Pablo Milanés, Bola de Nieve, Silvio Rodríguez, Barbarito Diez, and specially Harold López-Nussa, whom I again asked writing the music for one of my projects.

Did you have some good successes?

Many. Isabel Santos and Luis Alberto García, who play the roles of Mayra and Esteban. To be honest, they were not the actors I first thought of when I decided to make the film, over four years ago. But because of the circumstances, I couldn't work with Violeta Rodríguez and Hugo Reyes, neither with Susana Tejera and Francisco Gatorno, in the different moments I wanted to make the film. I would have had three different films with each of the couples.

"Other good calls include my work team again, and the neighbors of the building apartment at the Eduardo Chibás town, in Habana del Este,in the capital city. The shooting lasted 17 days, and it was specially done at night and in the early morning. They took care of our work and everything went on well, in spite of the usual last-minute changes.

"I am also pleased with the result. Ya no es antes is essentially a romantic film, that also talks about distances, emigration, the need to keep an oath, and I had all that with Isabel and Luis Alberto."

I know the video of the theme Guajira, by Cucurucho, will be soon premièred, and another one with Isaac Delgado and Ricardo Leyva.

The latter was co-directed by editor and co-producer Carlos Quesada, and both were great experiences.

Are there ideas for another film?

More than ideas, I already have a project in mind. It will be called No dejes que te olvide, and it will be about Bola de Nieve. But for now, I will focus on finishing Ya no es antes, on enjoying its impact, and then I will go on, because making films is the meaning of my life. I cannot stop.

Link to original interview on Cubarte here