For many Americans, Cuba is a country lost in time, sealed off from the United States for nearly six decades. For Raul Malo of the Mavericks, it’s a missing piece of who he is, and in the new documentary Havana Time Machine he finally gets to unravel the mystery, a taste of which you can see in the video above.
Born in Miami to Cuban parents in 1965, shortly after the United States outlawed travel to the Caribbean nation at the height of the Cold War, Malo never visited the country that his family fled until travel restrictions began to be loosened in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. Havana Time Machine, a collaboration between PBS’ Great Performances and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES, follows Malo as he explores his family’s homeland and collaborates with some of its musicians.
In the new video premiere, Malo cruises around Havana in an old Chevy Bel-Air as elderly women smoke cigars, children play soccer and spray each other with hoses, and people dance to a live Mavericks performance. It’s a colorful, loving montage set to “Easy as It Seems,” a track from the Mavericks’ Brand New Day LP, released last winter. The film also features performances from Eliades Ochoa, Ivette Cepeda, Roberto Fonseca, and the Sweet Lizzy Project.
Intended as a celebration of Cuban culture, the circumstances surrounding Havana Time Machine have changed over the course of the year with President Donald Trump’s planned immigration ban, which Malo described as being “mired in racism” when he spoke to Rolling Stone Country last February. The documentary aims to bring attention to Cuban talent, spotlighting longtime band member and Cuban native Julio Diaz and new recruit trumpet player Lorenzo Molina, who joined the Mavericks for some American tour dates this fall, including an appearance at the kickoff show at last month’s AmericanaFest in Nashville.
Havana Time Machine premiered earlier in October. Check local listings for additional showings or stream it online through your local PBS affiliate.