Since the early 1960’s, the United States has imposed a trade embargo on Cuba, but that may be coming to an end. “Three Days in Havana,” an intriguing drama from Gil Bellows (“The Shawshank Redemption”) and Tony Pantages, shows Americans what they have been missing over the last several decades.
“We were blessed to have an opportunity to share a world that I think a lot of people haven’t seen before,” Bellows explained when reached by phone for an interview. “It is a magical, mysterious place. It was an incredible place to shoot; we were really blessed on a lot of levels.”
The actor co-wrote and co-directed the piece and plays Jack Petty, a man caught in the middle of serious intrigue. When asked about any difficulties during the shoot, Bellows explained that the production is Canadian, which meant different diplomatic relationships were in effect.
“[Canada and Cuba] recognize each other on all diplomatic levels; they’re friends. I’m originally from Canada, so we were welcome. Since the film has no political agenda whatsoever, we were allowed to tell the story. We were invited to shoot where we wanted to shoot,” he said.
With so many colorful local characters appearing in the film, Havana itself becomes one of the stars. Another character, Harry Smith (Greg Wise) befriends Jack, showing him the lay of the land. Harry may not be the best possible tour guide, though.
“We wanted to tell a story about somebody going through the experience in an environment that was totally foreign to them and the audience as well,” Bellows said. “We looked to create a situation where the audience who is watching the film was going to see these characters and these places with the same eyes as Jack. They would be responding, making decisions and judgements in real time with Jack while he was going through it. And, at the same time, we wanted to explore, because we both loved this, the idea of tension and comedy working or existing side-by-side.”
Bellows also singled out actor Greg Wise’s work in “Three Days in Havana.” “My hope for the movie is that so many people get to see it for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that they can see Greg’s performance. I think it’s so spectacular. He just crushed it. He did a tremendous job and he’s a tremendous guy. He’s really one of the coolest people walking the Earth,” he said
Shot in 2012 and 2013, the film came out last year in Canada. It now is enjoying a digital and DVD release in the United States.
“Part of it for me is that I love the work that all the other actors and people behind the scenes contributed to make this happen. So it’s gratifying that people are finally going to get a chance to see it here,” Bellows said.