Following a successful world premiere at the most recent edition of DOC NYC and a sold-out screening at the Havana Film Festival, Los Últimos Frikis, the debut documentary feature by Nicholas Brennan, has been selected to participate in the Documentary Achievement Award competition at the 37th edition of the Miami Film Festival, taking place March 6-15, and at the 21st annual Havana Film Festival New York, running April 27-May 5.
Los Últimos Frikis tells the story of Zeus, Cuba’s hard-rocking, state-sponsored heavy metal band as they embark on their first national tour at a time when new historic changes sweep across the country, forcing the band to confront their biggest fear: silence.
When the heavy metal band first formed in Havana in the eighties, rock music was illegal on the Caribbean island, and rockers were derisively called “los frikis”—the freaks. Fidel Castro’s Communist government saw rock-and-roll as a capitalist threat: Concerts were broken up, vinyl records were destroyed, and long-haired “frikis” were thrown in jail. Lead singer Diony Arce spent six years in prison at the height of his career. Today, Zeus is part of the system, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture’s Agency of Rock. The government that once silenced these Frikis now pays their salaries and promotes them around the country. These grey-haired rockers traded in their rebellion for the chance to perform openly to crowds across the island. But at what cost?
Filmed over the course of ten years as a rare collaboration between American and Cuban filmmakers, the film offers a unique portrait of Cuba through the eyes of some unusual protagonists. Bouncing across the island on their tour bus, Zeus come face to face with a changing country and a younger generation that is no longer interested in their rebellious music.
Just as Cuba is optimistically opening its doors to what many hope will be a more comfortable and secure future, musical tastes have shifted to the newer, sexier rhythms of reggaeton. Once at the forefront of youth culture, Zeus now risk fading into a quiet irrelevance. Returning to Havana after a heart-breaking tour, the band questions if they have become los últimos frikis—the last freaks in Cuba.
Director Nicholas Brennan is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. He is currently a staff director at CNN’s Courageous Studios, where he is part of the founding team at the award-winning branded content studio. He has previously worked for ABC News, The New York Times, VICE and for global brands including AT&T, Intel, Toyota, and American Express. Los Últimos Frikis is his feature debut. He has previously directed the short documentaries Mama and Hard Rock Havana as well as the short narrative A Marine’s Guide to Fishing. He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he was a Willard TC Johnson Fellow in the Film & TV program.