First Run Features will release the award-winning documentary feature Los Hermanos / The Brothers in theaters nationwide (via a mix of in-person and virtual cinema runs) starting May 14.
Directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, the film follows virtuoso Cuban-born brothers — Ilmar the violinist, and Aldo 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.
Los Hermanos / The Brothers won the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Woodstock Film Festival and was nominated by the International Documentary Association for the prestigious Best Music Documentary. It screened at DOCNYC, the Miami Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, and more and will be featured at festivals at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center later this year.
Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán are 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.
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.