14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 5 May 2015 — Cuban filmmaker Pavel Giroud announced Tuesday through his Facebook profile the completion of the long process of his film El acompañante (The Companion), after finishing the assembly stage and sound mixing in the Clap Studies of Medellin, Columbia.
This film project has received awards on multiple occasions in its preproduction phase. One of the most important recognitions was the best project award at San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, as well as the SGAE Julio Alejandro Screenplay Award, awarded at the Malaga Film Festival.
These tributes provided indispensable economic support for the shooting of the film, undertaken as an independent project, outside the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). Another key factor was the success of his previous film La edad de la peseta, (English title: The Silly Age), for which the young director won the award for best feature film at festivals in Cartagena and Cinesul, as well as the Chris Holter Humor in Film Award in San Francisco. The many awards garnered by this film led some publications to elect Giroud as one of the ten most promising young directors in Latin America.
Among the stars of the film are the Cuban singer Yotuel Romero and Armando Miguel Gomez, who recently starred in Meleza (Molasses). Pavel Giroud had announced in several interviews the presence of the Brazilian actor Lázaro Ramos, who, despite a highly successful debut in Madame Satã, is better known in Cuba as André Gurgel in the Brazilian telenovela Insensato corazón (Foolish Heart). The actor, however, eventually did not participate in the shooting.
The film recreates the story of a great boxer from the eighties who ends up spending his days at the bedside of an HIV patient at a sanatorium in Los Cocos, as a form of punishment for testing positive for banned drugs. The athlete must follow the steps of the patient, a hero of the war in Angola who is spending his days at the facility against his well and who needs a companion for his weekly excursions outside the sanatorium.
After long months of research and interviews, the director found the documentary Al Margen del Margen (Beyond Outcasts – 1992), filled with images of a sanatorium and testimonies of the patients. Although “The Companion” is fictional, the real story of a sanatorium gave it a sharper focus. This film is the first time that the subject of AIDS patients has been addressed in Cuban fictional film.