The story takes place in the heart of Trinidad, a small rural town in Cuba. The story demanded a location that revealed authentic Cuban culture to the world. The bright colonial buildings and narrow alleys help transport the viewer to a tactile world, as well as the faded paint on walls and wet cobblestones.
As we are watching Hugo’s memories unfold before our eyes, the environments are continuously moving. This movement conveys the unsettling feeling of leaving one’s life behind and embarking on a journey.
Hugo’s departure takes place before sunrise, providing a unique creative opportunity from a lighting development perspective. The town is faintly illuminated by warm coral colors from the rising sun, generating an eerie atmosphere. The windows in the houses are brightly lit but without people in them. Hugo’s memory recollects the spaces during his departure, spaces with the absence of life; it literally feels as if we are paused in time.
Hugo’s home had once been a beautiful hotel suite in the 1950’s prior to Cuba’s Revolution. After Cuba’s political climate in the 60’s, the government allowed citizens to claim private buildings, such as hotels, for home apartments. The buildings aged with time, and the architecture fell into decay. The cracks on the walls were never repaired, and layers of paint sat on each other for decades on end.
Because Hugo’s home used to be a hotel suite, the ceilings are tall and the furniture sits small in the space. This allowed the sunlight to stretch into the rooms, casting long sharp shadows to create a stark contrast.
In Cuba, homeowners inherit furniture from friends and family, passing down objects that could be of use at some point in their lives. Therefore, the furniture can be dated and colors are unplanned and random, because you do not often have the choice of selecting a couch or table. Re-creating authentic homes was both a challenge and a joy, because I was able to bring in my own unique vision from my Cuban childhood home.