“Rumba Love” was written, produced, directed, and stars Mexican director, writer, and actor Guillermo Ivan, through his production company Golden Ceiba Productions. The film will be co-produced by Venezuelan actress Zair Montes and Olinka Dueñas.
Another look at the American Dream
“Rumba Love” is an intricate depiction of the American Dream and how agonizing the path towards achieving such aspiration can be. Yet, the key to it all is the resilience that is showcased throughout the film.
Guillermo Ivan, born in Mexico to creative parents such as himself, said that “Rumba Love” is the story of someone who comes to the United States with nothing else but his dreams — “and he never gives up.”
“For me, it’s a tribute to our Latino community, and it’s a way to celebrate our achievements and the steps we’ve made,” Zair Montes added.
Shot in Cuba and New York City, the independent film follows Cuban-American singer Nicolas (Guillermo Ivan), using the pain of loss as his compass. It is that same grief that provides him the direction to stumble upon serendipitous events.
Inspired by one of Ivan’s childhood experiences, the storyline is illustrated through the power of spirituality and music. Through these elements, the film portrays what many in the Latino community might relate to.
“When I was 14 years old, my best friend passed away. From one day to another, he got sick, and that shook my life entirely. Around that time, I was doing theater, and I did a small monologue for him on his birthday — that was all I had. He was already sick,” he said.
“And he made me promise to keep doing that [acting] and to continue going for it. He taught me to understand my path in a different way; he taught me to believe in myself and my dreams.”
The concept of ‘rumba’ as narrative
When asked why they chose to go with the rumba as the genre of music they highlighted, they spoke about its influence on Caribbean culture and its vibrancy.
“Something that a lot of people don’t know about is that the actual roots of salsa is la rumba; that’s where the famous tres mas dos derive from,” Ivan said. “But it comes from there, and we wanted to use that influence; we wanted to go deep into the origin of music and contemporary Latin music as well, which would allow us to portray that evolution throughout this story.”
“When I had a chance to meet with real Rumberos in the streets of Havana and to understand the passion and respect that they have for the drums, for la clave, and you know, for music in general — how they connect to it, it was just magic. I was mesmerized by it.”
For her part, Montes said that the word “rumba” also had its charm.
“I always loved that word [Rumba] because to me, in my life, being that I’ve lived in both Venezuela and Colombia, Rumba has the connotation of a party, happiness, and joy,” she added. “We’re always saying ‘Vamos a rumbear,’ or let’s go to a party!”
“We all [Latinos] have this swing and rhythm and Rumba inside of us. So, I felt that it was pretty appropriate.”
The experience of the road
Both stars of the film, Guillermo and Zair, understand what it means to detach themselves from their hometowns in pursuit of their dreams.
Though Ivan was born in Mexico, he traveled to Cuba at the age of 14 on a scholarship to train to become an actor and a filmmaker. He went back to Mexico seven years later, where he worked as an actor for various movies. During that time, he, once again, left his home to New York as he had obtained yet another scholarship to continue furthering what he had always envisioned for himself.
“And then that took me to Colombia to start shooting movies for a couple of years,” he said. “I’ve always bounced back and forth between Latin America and New York. Since then, filmmaking and acting have been my life, which allows me to tell beautiful stories.”
Some of the films Ivan has been featured in are “Vantage Point,” “The Unknown Hitman,” “Al Otro Lado Del Muro,” and “Lady of Guadalupe.”
Montes has also trekked plenty of corners the world has to offer.
She started her career as an actress in Venezuela, featured in several TV shows, soap operas, and theatrical productions. Everything she did up until then was made for the Venezuelan and Latin American market in Spanish.
Her ventures in the film also led her to Colombia. During her time there, she worked on more television series for networks like MTV, among others.
“It was when I was in Colombia that I started to feel like I wanted to just explore moviemaking from a different perspective,” she said.
“Respite,” “Habana Instant,” “The Flowers” is among the films that flaunt Montes’ name.
An uphill production
“Rumba Love” was shot in three chunks, the producers told us.
“You know, independent filmmaking, right?” Guillermo joked when remembering the process of “Rumba Love.” “Sometimes, you don’t have the assets. You don’t have the media. You don’t have the money to do everything at once.”
“So, continuity was the main concern for all of us. But fortunately, our script supervisor was on top of that. She did a phenomenal job as well as the entire production, the creative team, and everybody else.”
The film’s final outcome takes you into an emotional journey of love, loss, passion, and fulfillment.
The film is set to have its release on September 24th in select theaters. So far, it will be screened in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Orlando, and Dallas. However, for more information on the specific theaters, please visit rumbalovemovie.com.
The VOD release will also take place on September 24th. You can catch it on various platforms such as Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Fandango, and Vudu.
Watching “Rumba Love,” as Ivan described it, is “a Latino celebration.”
“We need to learn how to celebrate life and want a better context than the one in which we are doing.”
As for Montes, she said that it is an invitation for everyone to bring their espíritu rumbero out.