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Filming in Cuba

Cuba is a unique location with captivating natural landscapes and architecture. Politically isolated from the US since the 1960s, the island holds a particular curiosity for American producers who have only recently been able to shoot there.

The islands landscapes range from beaches to tropical rain forests, lush valleys and plantations. Cuban cities such as Havana provide a mix of elegant colonial buildings, lively and colourful neighbourhoods and streets lined with classic American cars, making Cuba attractive for period shoots.

In 2015 Papa: Hemingway in Cuba was one of the first “Hollywood” productions to shoot in the country since the 1960s. Helmed by a US director, the film was officially a Canadian-Cuban co-production but a high volume of US cast and crew and equipment came into the country. The film tells the tale of the final years of Ernest Hemingway from the perspective of a young reporter who befriended him in Cuba. The production had access to authentic locations, including Hemingway’s home, as well as exteriors that can lend themselves to scenes set in the 1950's, 60's and 70's.

Several Hollywood productions have since taken the opportunity to film in Cuba. In 2016 both Fast & Furious 8 and Transformers: The Last Knight were two of the first US productions to undertake Hollywood shoots in the country. Amazon Prime’s Guava Island starring Rihanna and Donald Glover shot on the island in 2018 and shows its many beaches and tropical environments. Brands are also inclined to use the compelling settings for advertising work including Nivea, Stella Artois and Garnier.

Cuban Film Institute of Arts and Sciences (ICAIC) is the government film division and helps incoming productions secure permits and locations. ICAIC also run Cuba’s main film studios. Incoming productions should work with authorised production companies who can advise on visas, import/export equipment, logistics and liaise with the Cuban authorities through the Production Office at ICAIC.

The collaboration of Canadian producers, American talent and Cuban crew has forged a new bond in US and Cuban relations. The American presence in the film was, in a sense, an extended hand of friendship between the US and Cuba, with the Canadians acting as the hosts and mediators.

Michael Pacino, Producer


Cuba has a tropical climate with hot and humid conditions throughout the year. Between November and April the weather in Cuba is hot and dry. Between May and October there is high rainfall. In the latter part of these months Cuba is subject to the threat of the hurricanes, which visit the Caribbean annually.

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