‘Vivo’ is a love letter to Cuba

Sony Pictures Animation

By Viviana Ortiz, MWN

It took more than a decade for “Vivo” to be released. The Dreamworks production company started working on it in 2010; however, the feature film was canceled in 2015. A year later, Sony recovered it and, at last, it found a place on Netflix.

The need to rescue it is largely due to the fact that the film is backed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the figure behind “Hamilton: An American Musical” and “In The Heights: A Love Letter To Neighborhood.” The American composer, lyricist, actor, singer, playwright and producer is the author of the songs in Vivo and also gives his voice to the protagonist.

Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the ‘Vivo’ Special Screening at Village East by Angelika in New York City.Monica Schipper / Getty Images for Netflix

“Vivo came into my life a long time ago and I fell in love. We wrote all these songs in 2009, but I always loved the story. I revisited the project recently with Quiara Alegria (screenwriter) and we completely rediscovered Vivo’s story. It is one of the most unforgettable characters I have ever worked with,” Miranda said during a meeting with the media. 

“Vivo” is an adventure, where the main character is a musically gifted kinkajou who must embark on a journey to deliver a song to his owner’s great lost love. That’s why the story has the perfect combination of sound with an important message.

“It’s an incredible journey about music and friendship, and how much music and love unite us. Vivo embarks on the journey from Cuba to Key West, the Everglades and Miami (Florida), accompanied by different characters. What really excites me is the music. It is authentic and incredible,” Miranda explained.

Another great protagonist of the animated story is Cuba, and of course its music. So the participation of Gloria Estefan made this production even more special.

“Vivo is a love letter to ‘mi tierra,’ Cuba. I loved the script when I read it. I thought it was really sincere,” she commented.

Estefan, who gave her voice to the character of Marta Sandoval, a Cuban singer on the verge of retirement, added: “When I heard the songs, I fell in love. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote all this incredible music.”

In addition to the music, “Vivo” also manages to charm with its colorful image. Part of this responsibility lies with production designer Carlos Zaragoza:

“The main inspiration for the film is the music. We wanted to create something fresh and unique.”

Kirk DeMicco, producer of the movie, also spoke about his experience.

“One of the coolest things I felt from the beginning was that this was really a musical about musicians. And it was about the music of Cuba, of Miami, of Florida, of the Caribbean, and it had a lot of different styles. And we thought we could incorporate classical and new styles of each locale as Vivo travels from Havana to Key West.”

“Vivo” is streaming now on Netflix. 

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