The new documentary Los Hermanos/The Brothers co-directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider World Premiere as the opening night film of Woodstock Film Festival. The film looks at Cuban-born brothers – Ilmar Gavilan the violinist, and Aldo López-Gavilán the pianist – who live on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half century wide. Linked by music and dreams, their unfolding story offers a nuanced, often startling view of nations long estranged, and a vision of what can happen when borders can be crossed.
In addition to Woodstock Film Festival, the film will Massachusetts Premiere at GlobeDocs Film Festival – October 1-12; West Coast Premiere at 43rd Mill Valley Film Festival – October 8-18; and Oregon Premiere at Bend Film Festival – October 9-11.
The documentary tells the story of Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán, virtuoso Afro-Cuban musician brothers, born in Havana in the 70s. At 14, Ilmar outgrew his island teachers and was sent to the U.S.S.R. to study violin. He never lived in Cuba again, ultimately landing as a working chamber violinist in the U.S. Younger brother Aldo grew up mentored by Cuba’s impressive jazz and classical pianists, his extraordinary talent achieving renown on the island, but stymied elsewhere by the 60-year-old U.S. embargo. Though they see each other when family finances and visa restrictions allow, they’ve never had a chance to collaborate musically—something they’ve longed for all their lives.
Tracking their parallel lives, poignant reunion, and momentous first performances together on stages across the U.S., Los Hermanos/The Brothers is a nuanced, intensely moving view of nations long estranged, through the lens of music and family.
Featuring an electrifying, genre-bending score, composed by Cuban Aldo López-Gavilán, performed with his American brother, Ilmar, and with guest appearances by maestro Joshua Bell and the Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet.
ABOUT THE BROTHERS
ALDO LÒPEZ-GAVILÁN (Composer, Pianist)
Praised for his “dazzling technique and rhythmic fire” in the Seattle Times, and dubbed a “formidable virtuoso” by The Times of London, Cuban pianist and composer Aldo López-Gavilán excels in both the classical and jazz worlds as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber-music collaborator, and performer of his own electrifying jazz compositions. Aldo began his formal piano studies at the age of seven, making his professional debut in Cuba at the age of 12, and developing remarkable improvisational skills and talent as a composer. He has recorded six albums and performed his compositions in concert halls throughout Europe and Latin America, but was stymied in a U.S. career by geopolitics to perform in the U.S. Though they see each other when family finances and visa restrictions allow, they’ve never had a chance to collaborate musically—something they’ve longed for all their lives, until the door opens and our story begins.
ILMAR GAVILAN (Violinist)
Recognized as a child prodigy in Cuba, Ilmar Gavilán has had a distinguished career playing for world leaders from the Obamas to Queen Sofía of Spain. Based in New York for 20 years, he won first place in the Sphinx Competition as a young adult, and helped form the Harlem Quartet to mentor young classical musicians of color. Along the way, Ilmar also developed improvisational skills and has performed and released albums with Paquito D’Rivera, Eddie Palmieri and Gary Burton, and Chick Corea, with whom the Harlem Quartet won a Grammy. He continues to tour and teach with the Harlem Quartet, who are currently in residence at London’s Royal College of Music.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
PatchWorks Films, co-founded by husband and wife team Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, makes documentaries raising nuanced questions about critical contemporary issues. PatchWorks’ films have broadcast and screened worldwide and have each been used in robust engagement campaigns. Their most recent feature, Havana Curveball screened in six countries, winning Best Documentary awards at the Boston and Seattle Children’s Film Festival, a special jury award at the Olympia Festival in Greece and a spot on School Library Journal’s “Best of 2014” list. Their previous feature, Speaking in tongues, aired on PBS, won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, and continues to be a catalyst for changing language education worldwide. Previous films include Born in the U.S.A., which aired on Independent Lens and was hailed as the “best film on childbirth” by the World Health Organization, and several shorts. Los Hermanos/The Brothers is their 9th collaboration, their 4th in Cuba.
MARCIA JARMEL / DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/IMPACT MANAGER
Marcia Jarmel is a veteran documentary director, producer, and impact producer. Prior to founding PatchWorks, Marcia directed and produced The Return of Sarah’s Daughters (Women in the Director’s Chair, IDA’s DocuWeek, Cinequest, international public television) and The F-Word: A Short Film Aout “Feminism” (Living Room Festival, AFI’s VideoFest, and Brooklyn Art Museum’s Judy Chicago film series). Angela Davis called The F-Word “an important step toward rekindling discussion of feminism.” Marcia consults on social issue films, including HBO’s Emmy nominated 50 Children, and the Academy Award nominated Last Day of Freedom. Marcia has been a resident at Working Films’ Content+Intent at Mass MoCA, Fledgling Fund’s Reel Education and Reel Impact, SFFilm’s FilmHouse, the Kopkind Colony, and twice a BAVC MediaMaker. She has taught at NYU-Tisch in Havana and Chapman University and served as a juror for the Emmys, BAVC MediaMaker, and many film festivals.
KEN SCHNEIDER / DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/EDITOR
Ken Schneider is a Peabody Award winner who believes in the power of film to affect hearts and minds. For nearly 30 years, Ken has produced, directed and edited documentaries in English and Spanish, focusing on war and peace, human rights, artists’ lives, American history, contemporary social issues, and Cuba. His work has appeared on PBS’s series American Masters, POV, Independent Lens, Frontline, Voces, and on HBO, Al-Jazeera, Showtime, and on television and in film festivals worldwide. Ken co-edited the Oscar-nominated Regret to Inform and has edited over 35 feature length documentaries that have won Primetime and Documentary Emmys, three Peabodys, a Columbia-Dupont, IDA (International Documentary Association) awards, an Indie Spirit award, and top awards at Sundance. Ken edits in English and Spanish and has a personal connection to Cuba, where his Vienna-born father was sheltered during the Holocaust. Ken has taught at NYU-Tisch, Chapman University, and San Francisco City College, and lectured at the SF Art Institute, University of San Francisco, and Harvard. He has been a panelist for National Endowment for Humanities, the Emmys, and various film festivals.