Amigo Skate Cuba is an organization that strives to bring joy and artistic identity to young adults in Cuba via smuggled skateboards and other artistic contraband. Amigo Skate Cuba has clearly had a hand in the growth of an alternative culture that's beginning to thrive in a challenging communist environment where freedom of expression is not encouraged.
This documentary will explore an artistic subculture of Cuban youth in the dawn of a new Cuba. We are traveling to Cuba at an interesting time before the embargo lifts while questions of it’s effect on the country’s future are in the air. This timely story presents a rare opportunity to capture the lifestyle and landscape of a beautiful and unique culture whose full expression has been hidden under communism for generations.
The youth of any society inevitably seeks its own identity from one generation to the next. This separation helps to define and carve out individuals who ultimately create change and advancement. The individuality of Cuba’s youth perseveres and is apparent in the creativity that exists just below the surface.
Founded in 2009, the Amigo Skate Cuba movement was founded by Rene Lecour.
The ever-growing group is comprised of like minded friends, artists, musicians and athletes from around the world.
Collecting unwanted or broken skateboard equipment, Amigo Skate refurbishes, rebuilds, and then recycles them back to skaters in need. Besides supplying new and used decks, wheels, hardware, grip and trucks, they have gathered a wide variety of action sports gear, music equipment, and art supplies. After collecting and refurbishing everything, they redistribute the goods to kids wherever and whenever they see a need.
Amigo Skate Cuba’s philanthropic efforts have been featured in a variety of news publications and websites including: The Miami Herald, The Berrics, National Public Radio, Hella Clips, The Miami News Times, Skate and Annoy and CNN just to name a few.
Visually speaking, Cuba is a rare, beautiful gem. A tropical paradise with a storied past, Cuba offers us a unique view of a world few have been able to see. Filming against this stunning backdrop for our story we will capture its warm people alongside its natural beauty and historic architecture. This laid back Caribbean Island culture mixed with Havana’s big city life, where vintage American cars from the 40’s and 50’s roll by you on Havana’s Malecon will
be make every frame of this documentary shine.
We are taking different types of cameras with us that will help us capture the action and emotions appropriately depending on the scenario. Cameras that have wider lenses and are easier to operate in fast-paced situations will help us accentuate the moments around skating, the event, and the run n’ gun lifestyle. Our more cinematic cameras will be used to frame our intimate portraits, interviews, and landscapes. This philosophy will create a well rounded picture and put the audience in the action and hearts of our subjects with the ultimate goal of walking (or skating) a mile in the the shoes of our subjects.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
CUBAN LOCAL CAST
CHE PANDO - The Godfather. Che Pando discovered skate boarding in the 80’s and, without much influence from the outside, fell in love with the sport and really invented his own version of skating in Cuba. Today, he continues to foster and live subversively as a tattoo artist in Havana. He and Amigo Skate are responsible for the growth of the sport and the surge of new skaters that find refuge in skating the streets of Havana. If you need any type of artistic contraband, chances are Che Pando has it or knows where to get it.
MAMERTO - Known as the best skater and surfer on the island, Mamerto has now decided to start his own skate school to help spread his passion for the sport. He hopes one day that Cuba will recognize skating and other extreme sports. Recognized or not, he is committed to doing what he loves even if it goes against what’s acceptable or allowed.
ALBERTI - Alberti is the perfect icon for the youth in Cuba. After discovering skate boarding only last year, he has begun to thrive as his skills grow impressively day after day. It’s hard to know if Alberti will stay in school or identify his purpose as being only a skater. One thing is certain, if he doesn’t pursue school, he’ll be forced to join the army in a couple of years.
TITO - Tito is a fascinating figure who loves hip-hop and rap. Rene and Chris of Amigo Skate, seeing his potential first hand, have personally contributed to his musical ambitions by smuggling in recording equipment for him. Now in the process of filming his first music video, he plans to release his new album later this year.
AMIGO SKATE CAST
RENE - Rene, a first generation Cuban-American, founded Amigo Skate in 2009 with his son and wife. Upon his first trip to Cuba, he realized the difference he could make in the culture by sharing his love of skate boarding with the youth. He has led the organization on more than 12 trips to Havana over the last five years bringing boards and other artistc tools to the island. He wants to build a positive sub-culture that influences and supports individuality.
CHRIS - VP and Skate Videographer, Chris lives and works as a photographer and film maker in Brooklyn, New York. Chris first discovered Amigo Skate Cuba on Instagram, where he contacted Rene at Amigo Skate and ultimately joined him on a trip to Havana. “After my first trip and seeing how passionate these kids were, I was hooked”
ABSTRK - A Miami local street artist and painter, Cuban American Abstrk has become involved in the growth of the Arts in Cuba through his travels with Amigo Skate Cuba. He plans to join the group trip to Havana for World Skate Day and contribute to the cause by teaching the locals some new painting techniques.
JAKUB - A Czech pro skater and designer of multiple skate parks in the Czech Republic, Jacob now resides in Cuba. He is currently helping build the new DIY skate park in Havana. Jakub, a good friend to Amigo Skate, acts as the liaison for Rene and Chris by coordinating events from Miami on location in Cuba.
It is unknown when and in what ways the embargo will lift. When it does, American companies will leverage their influence as quickly as they are allowed. During filming, we will be seeing the last of Cuba’s time before this capitalistic free fall is possible.
Because the American political winds are changing and the embargo lifting seems eminent, this documentary has the unique opportunity to capture the before and after of Cuba’s cultural landscape and how it effects the film’s cast of characters.
What will happen when the embargo lifts? What opportunities will this afford Amigo Skate? What future does this hold for our cast of characters? These are the answers we will seek as we witness it all first hand.
Watching the kids on the island swarm towards the chance to express themselves through skating, art, and music is as heart warming and inspirational as it is an acknowledgement of how starved they are for forms of individual expression. Rene and Chris recognize how much freedom they have back in the states and strive to share that with these kids by using Amigo Skate to smuggle in anything to help the cause.
While in Cuba, we’ll film Amigo Skate bringing more contraband to the island, Abstrk teaching kids how to create spray paint art, and Mamerto opening his new skate school in the abandoned building near his house. Other ‘hidden treasures’ await as we begin to peel back the layers of these complex characters and situations. We look forward to capturing the transformative process as this undercurrent of alternative expression blossoms and takes hold of these kids.