Alejandro Sanz just earned another accolade to go with his 29 Grammys: Olympic performerBy BERENICE BAUTISTA Associated PressJuly 23, 2021, 8:42 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMEXICO CITY — Alejandro Sanz just earned another accolade to go with his 29 Grammys: Olympic performer.The Spanish sensation joined John Legend, Keith Urban and Angelique Kidjo on Friday to spread the message of peace at the Tokyo Games in a pre-recorded rendition of “Imagine.”The John Lennon-Yoko Ono standard has become an unofficial Olympic anthem. In close up on video, the four crooned the song near the end of the opening ceremony.The song’s message, Sanz said, is necessary now more than ever.“I think it is one of the most beautiful pop hymns that have been written in history. The message cannot be more conciliatory and more ad hoc at this time,” he told The Associated Press in a video interview from Andalusia, Spain, the land of his family.“Sports and the Olympics represent the magic that the whole world was missing,” Sanz added.The four were summoned by the German film music composer Hans Zimmer, who arranged and produced their version.“They sent me Hans Zimmer’s arrangements that are spectacular. They are exciting like everything he does in the cinema,” said Sanz, who is also a composer and guitar player known for flamenco-influenced ballads and work in pop, rock, funk, R&B and jazz.Sanz didn’t attend the ceremony in person, but he felt its power when he watched.“It is true that in the stadium there was no public. The ceremony at the beginning has logically started a bit cold,” he said. “But as the athletes have entered, they have filled everything with happiness and enthusiasm, with this spirit of improvement, with effort.”Sanz has won 25 Latin Grammys and four Grammys. He is preparing to begin a tour of the United States in October that will include stops in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Houston, among other cities, after so many months without live performances due to the pandemic.“I’m very excited to get on stage again, I don’t know if I’m going to remember how to do that, but I’m going to try not to show it,” he joked.Sanz is also “giving final touches” to what will be his next album.“I really want to be able to show everything that I have been doing during the pandemic,” he said. “A lot of music and a lot of lyrics.”
MEXICO CITY — The slogan “¡Patria y vida!” — “Homeland and life!” — is heard loudly during the demonstrations in Cuba. It is a verse of a song that has become the anthem of these protests and that emerged from artists who for the first time dared to express their disagreement with the government.“Patria y vida” is performed by Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, who change the Cuban revolutionary slogan “homeland or death” created by Fidel Castro to: “No more lies, my people ask for freedom, no more doctrines / Let us no longer shout‘ Homeland or death’ but ‘Homeland and life’”.“This is historic, this had never happened and people shout ‘homeland and life!’ in every street. We are very proud,” said Randy Malcom, from the duo Gente de Zona, in a phone interview from Miami.“We knew that ‘Patria y vida’ was going to be a song that was going to greatly influence the thinking of Cubans,” he added. “But we didn’t know it would get so far and we are very proud, honestly, for being the driving force behind the Cuban people to take to the streets to denounce everything that this dictatorship does.”Since its release in mid-February, it was clear to Yotuel Romero that they wanted to encourage people to speak out against authoritarianism.“We all believe this is a song to freedom, a song to life, a song to the love for our land,” he said then in a video posted on Instagram. “I want them to say ‘it’s over with us.’ The lies are over, the deception is over, the torture is over, the imprisonment is over, the prisons are over.”Romero’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the singer about the protests.Romero, a member of the music group Orishas, raised the idea for the song. The artists began working on it in Miami and sent it to Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, who are part of the San Isidro Movement that since 2018 has protested against the Cuban government. The song was finished in Miami, while its video had to be filmed surreptitiously in Cuba due to the participation of the artists of San Isidro.“They couldn’t film. If someone saw them, they would be put in jail and we had to do it secretly,” Malcom said.Last weekend, the song resounded as a cry of protest at the massive anti-government demonstrations, something that had not been seen in Cuba in decades. Following the protests there were riots, hundreds of arrests, injuries and one civilian death (according to official figures.) And internet access was limited on the island.People were protesting shortages, power outages and limited access to COVID-19 vaccines. The country is going through its worst economic crisis in decades and protesters are demanding political changes. And the demonstrations spread to other cities, including Miami and Mexico City.The government has insisted that US sanctions added to its own deficiencies explicitly sought to suffocate the island economically to generate discontent. In addition, it used a campaign on social media including Twitter to promote the marches.Several requests for comment from the AP went unanswered.The musicians behind “Patria y vida” denounced that the unarmed civilian population is being repressed in the demonstrations in Cuba.Gente de Zona is known for hits like “La Gozadera” with Marc Anthony, “Niña” with Becky G and “Si no vuelves”. “Patria y vida” is their first politically charged song, and puts them in the tradition of the Latin American protest song.“It becomes a commitment that you have with your people, who have followed you and given you everything you have today,” said Alexander Delgado, the other member of the reggaeton duo. “We never knew that your talent and a song could be the weapon to hit these people hard, this government.”Malcom and Delgado said that what the demonstrators are asking for a free and democratic Cuba and that their discontent is genuine, not a minority influenced by the United States like some have indicated.“The one lying in the street is the Cuban people, they are not people from other countries. It is us Cubans who are defending our freedom, it is us Cubans who want free elections, it is us Cubans who no longer want a dictatorship telling us what to do,” said Malcom. “Only us who have lived under dictatorship know what that means.”In “Patria y vida,” they sing that the “domino has been locked” for six decades in a reference to the years of the Cuban regime.“It can reach a century if we don’t do what is happening today,” Malcom added.
Everardo Gout wanted to bring Mexico to the forefront in “The Forever Purge.”By BERENICE BAUTISTA Associated PressJuly 2, 2021, 8:20 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMEXICO CITY — MEXICO CITY — In “The Forever Purge,” the bloodbath lasts more than 12 hours and takes place on the border between Mexico and the United States. Mexican director Everardo Gout uses the strengths of fellow countrymen actors Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta in the film now in theaters.The first film in the horror saga created by James DeMonaco was 2013’s “The Purge.” In this installment, De la Reguera plays Adela, who along with husband Juan (Huerta), tries to adapt as an immigrant recently arrived in the United States.But when the time comes to fight the purge — an annual event where murders, rapes and all kinds of crimes are allowed— it extends beyond the established 12 hours. Adela takes up arms and fights alongside the men.“Where are strong women in movies?” said Gout in Spanish in a recent video call interview from New York about his choice of the Mexican actress for this character. “Where are the women like my mother who raised me with my brothers? 40 years old, complex, complete, beautiful. I was very excited to be able to do that.”The filmmaker, who makes his debut as a Hollywood director with this film, said he always had Huerta in mind. The Mexican actor starred in his debut feature, “Days of Grace” (“Días de gracia”) in 2011, and has been very vocal in his stance against the violation of immigrant rights and racism.In “The Forever Purge,” Huerta plays a horse trainer with almost magical abilities to control animals but is nevertheless rejected by the prejudices of Dylan Tucker (Josh Lucas), the white son of the owner of the ranch where he works.“I knew he was the best actor for this role, so I stuck with my decision with the study saying ‘I love Tenoch and I’m not going to see anyone else until you show me that there is a better actor out there’” Gout said. “That tape never came because there was no one better.”Unlike Adela, who strives to learn English, Juan does not want to forget his origins.“I think the authenticity that Tenoch gives it is very important and on the contrary, what I said to James (DeMonaco) was ‘let’s use his accent, let’s use his imperfection of English,‘” said the director.When the purge spirals out of control, Mexicans and Americans alike seek refuge in Mexico.“It has a lot of ironies and a lot of messages that I think are important,” Gout said. “The movie never falls from its shell of being a horror movie and a thriller … (but) with that shell the waves can be political, it can be racial, it can be anything because it is organic for the characters.”Though “The Purge” saga is fictional, with the very real rising levels of divisiveness, intolerance and violence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic could fiction become reality?“Obviously we shot it before all the disaster that happened in America in the last year, but I think that’s the genius of James DeMonaco, who has the clairvoyance to see five minutes into the future,” Gout said. “It is a current film. If some aliens came to Earth, I think it would be one of the 10 films that represent who we are. ”And when it seems that the complicated relationship between Mexico and the United States has been introduced, the film reminds that long before the border issues, Native American people were in the region. In a prominent role, an indigenous ally (played by Gregory Zaragoza) who guides them through the desert points out that they have been fighting oppression and extermination for 500 years.Behind the camera there is also a Mexican presence. Gout called on his friend Luis Sansans to be the director of photography: “I needed my guardian.”For the director, the most difficult part of the production was to do everything that the apocalyptic script proposed — and stick to the budget.“You have to resort to Spielberg from ‘Jaws’, where the shark was broken all the time and that’s why it’s so scary, because you don’t see the damn shark until the end,” he said. “Although it looks very big, we did not have those conditions and that was the real challenge from start to finish.”