Cuba's Violin (United States | 2015, 18 min)

Directed by: Maya Albanese & Antoine Goldet

Jose Osvaldo is a 16-year-old violin student at the top of his class at Amadeo Roldan, the oldest music conservatory in Havana, Cuba. But, Jose does not have his own violin and has little hopes of owning one, because his family, like most in Cuba since the fall of the Soviet Union, does not have the resources to purchase string instruments, let alone keep them serviced regularly enough to play melodies in tune. 

This film is the story of how Jose's life could be changed by one donation from New York City. And this one gift is representative of the consistent trail of instruments that has been traveling from the U.S. to Cuba despite more than a half century of the embargo. 

Through the story of this violin, the wider issue of the cultural-economic paradox between the U.S. and Cuba is portrayed. While music students in Cuba are highly trained according to the classic conservatory system from the age of seven onward, there is no market to produce instruments or well-paying jobs. Children in the U.S. may have relative material wealth, but most low-income school districts in America do not prioritize music and arts education, and most children will never get to put their hands on a piano or a violin. How can both sides of the sea learn from another?