2.Lo Mein and Plantains: The Proud History of Cuban-Chinese Food
3.In Canada, a First Nations Artist Puts a New Spin on Techno Music
4.How One Man Built His Own Spacesuit
5.For Black Military Servicewomen, a Friend on the Outside
6.Restoring Havana’s Classic Neon Signs
7.How One Military Family Saved for a Home of Their Own
8.The Last Bookstore Begins a New Chapter
9.In Japan, Seniors Step Up to Bat
10.In Louisiana, a Photographer Captures the Disappearing Wetlands
11.This Metal Band Is Out to Save the Ancient Maori Language
12.Surviving the Race from Hell
13.Welcome to the Chilling Church of Bones
14.Miami: Frita Cubana
15.Cuba's Flying Pizzas
16.Roll Deep in Soviet-Era Military Tanks
17.What it Feels like to Swim the Entire Mississippi River
18.This Former Secret Passage Is Now a Time Capsule of Naples' Past
19.Fighting to Serve His Country and His Faith
20.A Race Against Time: Cuba's Fast And Furious
21.Kimchi: A Story of Love and Patience
22.The Secret Record Label Within Waffle House
23.This Book Has Served Up Delicious Fare for Centuries
24.New England’s Chow Mein Sandwich Is the Ultimate Comfort Food
25.Breaking Fast in Istanbul
David Freid is a prolific filmmaker. After shooting his first short documentary in 2016, the director went on to make 49 more in just two-and-a-half years. Earlier this year, we shared his film, “Maori Metal.” Today, we’re proud to present his next documentary, “This Film Used to Be About Rum.”
“This Film Used to Be About Rum,” which began with the working title “130 Years of Rum,” chronicles Freid’s attempt to make a film about Cuba’s plan to repay a Soviet-era debt to the Czech Republic in rum.
What links both films is Freid’s sense of humor. In “Maori Metal,” the humor was drawn through Alien Weaponry’s van, which Freid took inspiration from the movie “Little Miss Sunshine.” As for “This Film Used to be About Rum,” the director started with the goal of making a light-hearted film. “We were just naively gallivanting into an active military dictatorship with the idea that we would do a puff piece, which is hilarious,” Freid reflects.
But he found out it wasn’t going to be so easy to make his “puff piece.” Soon after Freid arrived in Cuba to shoot the film, one of his key subjects canceled a scheduled interview at the last minute because of “political suspicions.” The person also warned Freid to be careful because the secret police might be following him.
Others also became unwilling to talk. Given the lack of cooperation, Freid might have packed his bags and given up on the project. But he ultimately turned the camera on himself and made a film about how hard it is to make a film about Cuban rum.
The ability to pivot is crucial when you are making a documentary, according to Freid. “If you just allow yourself to play jazz and be open to what comes at you,” he says, “you might realize that the thing just to the right of the camera, just out of frame, is more interesting than the thing you’re looking at.”
When we’re not making films, we’re watching them. Introducing “Great Big Spotlight,” Great Big Story’s latest series highlighting our favorite documentaries from some of the best filmmaking talent out there. Watch more from Freid at his website.
Havana, CubaFull Map
19 videos | 48 min
15 videos | 26 min
3 videos | 57 min
2 videos | 9 min