Home #Hwoodtimes A Conversation With Director William Sabourin About His Latest Film “Lazaro and The...

A Conversation With Director William Sabourin About His Latest Film “Lazaro and The Shark”

By Jesus “Solly” Olivares

Georgia (The Hollywood Times) 11/16/2022 –  “Lazaro and The Shark” charts the extraordinary presence and impact of the Afro-Cuban legacy in everyday life and the electric annual Conga competitions in Cuba.

A breath-taking and visceral view into director William Sabourin O’Reilly (“A Crooked Line,” “Chasing Dreams: A Leah chase Story”) native Cuba. A country and a people stuck at a crossroads, after six decades of Communist rule, Cuba is an island nation sunken into a perpetual economic downturn resulting in poverty and political crisis. Freedom and Democracy are non-existent to generations of Cubans. This reality becomes particularly heartbreaking when one bears witness to the energy, passion, and joy of the Cuban people, displayed in the annual Conga competitions.

The Hollywood Times had the opportunity to speak with director William Sabourin O’Reilly about his latest film “Lazaro and The Shark”.  Enjoy the conversation:

“Lazaro and The Shark” tells a vibrant story of contemporary life in Cuba, marked by generational conflicts and the suspense of a competition. The film is a declaration of love to Cuba’s people and culture. The music and dancing featured throughout the film emphasizes the undeniable and exhilarating presence and importance of the rich Afro-Cuban legacy on the Eastern part of the island. Stripped of the exotic gaze of an outsider, the film brings the audience to life in Santiago, to fathom the real racial, cultural, and social diversity of this fascinating country. These Cuban street parades are saturated with so much drama, love, pain, powerful music and ecstatic joy, as entire communities struggle to express themselves while facing harsh police brutality and repression.

“Lazaro and The Shark” illuminates the realities of the Cuban people through a combination of drama, color, sound, and motion, recreating the magic of that colorful world. The evolution of these festivities, the Conga groups, and the competition between them is both provocative and entertaining. “Lazaro and The Shark” is directed by William Sabourin O’Reilly (“A Crooked Line,” “Chasing Dreams: A Leah Chase Story”); produced by Bryan Bailey (“New Orleans Pie,” “A Crooked Line”), Bhagavan Ishaya Antonia Zennaro (“Parade”); executive produced by Tomas Montoya Gonzalez; with cinematography by William Sabourin O’Reilly; edited by Halil Efrat, Daniel Diez, & Carlos Larrondo with original music by Alexey Marti, Jose Maria Vitier, Willy Keys & La Crema.

“Lazaro and The Shark” Synopsis:
Lazaro and The Shark: Cuba Under the Surface is a feature documentary that brings us to the world of Conga Competitions in the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba – one of the poorest Carnival in the world. Lázaro, the leader of the Conga de Los Hoyos, is determined to win the coveted award bestowed to the neighborhood that presents the most spectacular Conga. Like leaders of rival congas, Lazaro must join with his neighbors and scour the strictly rationed marketplace to find the necessary materials to create a show-stopping performance. Director William Sabourin O’Reilly, an Afro-Cuban native to Havana, offers a rare window into communist Cuba, a country that is often romanticized, and almost always portrayed through the eyes of an outsider.

Sabourin seamlessly weaves wrenching moments of senseless police violence with intimate scenes of distant lovers aching to reunite. As the competition approaches, we see much more than Lazaro’s desire to win a local honor. We are immersed in the essential fight of the Cuban nation: to continue to live in the legacy of a revolution that has left its people in a constant struggle of poverty, or embrace a more dangerous, vital vision of living in freedom.