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A documentary film introducing communist Cuba's legendary heavy metal band—the most popular rock stars you've never heard of.

Zeus celebrates their 25th anniversary this year after two decades playing heavy metal in Havana, Cuba.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

As the director of Hard Rock Havana, I have spent the past four years traveling back and forth between New York and Havana documenting the story of Zeus, Cuba's legendary heavy metal band and their lives inside the communist country's "official" rock scene. I was drawn to their story because, as an American filmmaker raised on rock and roll, it was a way of looking at Cuba from a shared experience—seeing life inside this changing society through the struggles of its rock stars and their dedicated fans. What emerges in this feature-length documentary is an intimate portrait of a community of musicians following their dreams with a passion and resilience that can inspire us all.

One of Zeus's fans shouts along with Diony during an outdoor concert in Havana
One of Zeus's fans shouts along with Diony during an outdoor concert in Havana

The story starts when lead singer Diony Arce began playing rock music in the 1980s. Back then, rock and roll was seen as an evil capitalist influence. The Cuban government banned the music and threw long haired, tattooed rockers - called "friquis" - in jail.

Twenty-five years later Diony's music is now tolerated, but only within the control of the Agency of Rock, a government bureaucracy created to promote (and control) the country's heavy metal scene. To survive and play the music they love most, Diony and his fans have to strike a balance between compromising themselves and staying true to their music.

My team and I have traveled the entire island with the band—from Havana to Santa Clara to Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. Along the way, we have captured a unique window into this communist country as it tries to redefine its own identity in a post-communist world. It's been a wild and inspiring journey so far. I hope you'll join our team and finish this journey with us.

— Nicholas Brennan, Director

HOW YOU CAN HELP

After successfully completing principal photography on the film earlier this year, we now need the support of the Kickstarter community to launch into post-production—the editing, sound design, music supervision and coloring required for a powerful, finished film.

We have captured over 120 hours worth of footage that's now sitting on harddrives waiting to be edited. It's a big and expensive job and we can't do it alone. This is where you come in. In order to launch the post-production phase of this film, we need to raise $30,000 on Kickstarter over the next 30 days.

Why do we need the money? The money goes to three months worth of editing time with a top spanish-language documentary editor along with the beginning of our sound design, music supervision, marketing & outreach for the film's distribution. Because of the way Kickstarter works, we must raise our complete goal of $30,000 to receive any funding, so your contribution is crucial for this to succeed.

Along with being a part of completing this film, you'll also receive some fun rewards for your support. Our American and Cuban teams have collaborated to put together some unique rewards and opportunities to give thanks for your contribution.

Downtown Havana, Cuba captured by producer John Logan Pierson during production.
Downtown Havana, Cuba captured by producer John Logan Pierson during production.
Diony and his son, Dionisio Jr. at their home in Havana
Diony and his son, Dionisio Jr. at their home in Havana

WHO WE ARE

One element that makes this a truly special production is the chance the documentary creates for American and Cuban filmmakers to work together. While shooting in Havana, the American team led by director Nicholas Brennan and producer John Logan Pierson work side-by-side with a team of independent filmmakers from Cuba led by Line Producer Rossana Reyes Rosa and cinematographer Abel Lopez. It's a rare opportunity for artistic exchange between our two countries and has made for both a memorable production and an inspiring film.

From the United States, the team is rounded out by Academy and Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (Exec. Producer), top legal advisor Wilder Knight (Exec. Producer), music advisor Dave Lombardo (Cuban-born former drummer for Slayer) and Emmy-nominated editor Francisco Bello (Supervising Editor).

The team began working on this project as an 11-minute short film that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 and went on to screen at festivals around the world. During each screening, we were inspired by the way that this story was able to transcend the usual political differences and create a space for positive conversations about what's shared between such seemingly opposing societies. After the short's success, we received accolades including the Chris Columbus / Richard Vague Film Production Award from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and the Moving Picture Institute to develop and shoot the feature film.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As with any creative endeavor, documentary films are inherently risky to produce. At this stage, we have completed principal photography in Cuba but still need to edit the film. While we can make no guarantees about the release and financial success of the film, we have all dedicated many years of our lives to telling this story and we are fighting with our deepest efforts to make this film the very best and successful that it can be.

Thank you for your support!

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    POCO A POCO — Every dollar counts! You'll receive a personal thank you note from the filmmakers for your support.

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    MUCHAS GRACIAS — You'll receive a Cuba-themed Postcard with a big thanks from the filmmaking team.

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    SEE THE FILM — You'll receive a pre-release digital download of the finished film + a Cuba-themed postcard.

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    SPECIAL EDITION DVD — You'll receive a special DVD of the documentary + a digital download of the film + a Cuba-themed postcard.

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    ORIGINAL MUSIC — Rock out with the official soundtrack to the film + DVD box set + digital download of the film + Cuba-themed postcard.

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    ON-SCREEN SUPPORTER — Receive a "Special Thanks" credit in the film and on IMDb for your support + original music + DVD + digital download + Cuba-themed postcard

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    LIMITED EDITION FILM POSTER — An autographed print of the film's movie poster made by a Cuban designer + "special thanks" + original music + DVD + digital download + Cuba-themed postcard.

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    LARGE PHOTO PRINTS FROM CUBA — Receive a selection of large photo prints from fellow Cuban and American photographers who have been a part of the film. Each photo comes with its own story printed on the back + limited edition poster + "special thanks" + original music + DVD + digital download + Cuba-themed postcard.

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    PRODUCING TEAM — FINANCING PRODUCER — Join our international producing team as a Financing Producer. You'll be credited on-screen and on IMDb for your support. You and a guest are also invited to an exclusive rough cut screening of the film. Your input will help to shape the final film. Also included are the photo prints + poster + original music + DVD + digital download + postcard.

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    PRIVATE SESSION WITH LOMBARDO — have lunch and a private drum session with the "godfather of the double bass" Dave Lombardo in southern California + "Financing Producer" rewards + photo prints + poster + original music + DVD + digital download + postcard.

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    PATRON OF THE ARTS — For your support, you'll get an original piece of artwork from one of the young, internationally exhibited Cuban artists who have collaborated on the production of "Hard Rock Havana" - it will look great next to the film poster. Also included are the "Financing Producer" rewards + photo prints + poster + original music + DVD + digital download + postcard.

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    PRODUCING TEAM — CO-PRODUCER — For your support, you'll be credited as a "Co-Producer" on screen in the film and on IMDb. In addition to the rough cut screening and preview screening, you'll also receive two VIP tickets for you and a guest to attend the film's festival premiere + your choice of "Patron of the Arts" or "Session with Lombardo" + photo prints + limited edition poster + "special thanks" + original music + DVD + digital download + postcard.

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    ROCK STAR — You are a rock star in our hearts for your support at this level at a time when we need it most. You'll be credited as "Co-Executive Producer" in the opening credits of the film and on IMDb + "Co-Producer" rewards + your choice of "Patron of the Arts" or "Session with Lombardo" + photo prints + limited edition poster + "special thanks" + original music + DVD + digital download + postcard.

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Funding period

- (35 days)