Havana, Cuba. The documentary begins with Juana Bacallao, a performer who continues to deliver her best midnight show; at 97 years of age, her gaze and willpower are the same as they have always been… She is a fighter and a provocateur.
This is a tale about the makings of a diva, one created in the time of Cabaret as well as a historical moment in the memory of a whole country and continent. This is about the myth and art that comes from an incredible woman called Juana La Cubana who goes by the stage name Juana Bacallao.
Filmed on location in Cuba, this film is a unique project that required careful planning and execution to bring Juana’s artistry to life. Cinematographer Camilo Paparoni was tasked with capturing the culture, the people and the important story that lies within.
“Rosana Matecki is an exceptionally talented director, and this marks her sixth documentary film. It reveals the remarkable tale of a legendary 97-year-old cabaret artist. Juana, who is a prominent star in Cuba. Her entire life has been lived in the shadow of the government, yet she has devoted her life to illuminating the cabaret stage. Coming from a humble background, her journey is a poignant but profoundly poetic one.”
With an incredible backstory and a colorful culture, Camilo explains how the film is going to come together “There are many layers, it tells the story of an incredible and beautiful country. In the middle it will show the artistic, resistance and the resilience of this artist, it’s a universal example of how in the worst of times people can shine through art.”
Camilo shot the key scenes at night to capture the essence of the culture of the region. Camilo explains “The central scene was shot at night by a graffiti artist which is making a big mural of the artist in Havana. Cuba doesn’t remember many things and they don’t make many big documentaries which honor her. It’s the opportunity to make a mural to her, she’s not singing now. It’s an opportunity to finally honor the artist.”
For Camilo, staying light and working with the reliable equipment is important to his filmmaking workflow, working with Vidiexco, he relied upon them to recommend the right equipment for the job. Camilo’s shooting style is mostly handheld with a gimbal. This is where the Titon Base shines, with its low profile, lightweight nature and ability to power other accessories Base become the crew’s power of choice. Camilo explains.
“My documentaries are typically shot using handheld techniques, so I don’t have the luxury of carrying a lot of equipment with me. To ensure smooth footage, I rely on the Titon Base connected to the gimbal which supports P-Tap for follow focus and wireless transmission. When using the gimbal, I use the FX3 camera. I have found the Titon Base to be an extremely useful accessory for cameras and gimbals. I’ve noticed that other Cinematographers also use it in their work. It is truly the perfect tool for this type of filming.”
““I use the Titon Base on most of the documentaries I do because of the capacity of the battery. A lot of the directors I work with like me to work handheld and Titon Base offers the perfect counterweight to balance the Sony FX3 system.””
Performance when it matters
Reliable power enables Camilo to shoot in any environment. With premium cells, the Titon Base battery is a powerful and versatile solution that provides reliable power for extended periods of time. Its high capacity allows filmmakers to shoot for hours without worrying about running out of power, and its built-in safety features ensure that the battery will not overheat or malfunction.
“In the cold temperatures Titon Base is the perfect setup. I used it on a recent documentary, filming a race in the mountains. The “Mifafi Ultra”, the most difficult trail race in Venezuela. We started filming at 5am in -4°C. By 9am the sun comes up we have up to 18 degrees Celsius, there’s a very quick transition from cold to hot.”
“At 4,200 meters high, the altitudes and the temperate make other brands batteries drain out quickly. Sometimes I shoot with drones and the batteries just die. I was really impressed with the Anton/Bauer Titon Base. It was the first time I used them in these conditions and the battery is so reliable, it’s perfect in -4°C, and maintains its charge perfectly! In the trail race, many people asked me about it and why I don’t have to keep changing the batteries. I explained to them it is a serious cinema battery. They are perfect in changing weather conditions.”
Culture, people, and art
The Last Diva is a beautiful and moving tribute to Juana Bacallao’s life and career. The film’s success is due in no small part to the dedication and hard work of its production team, who overcame many challenges to bring Juana’s story to the screen.
The Anton/Bauer Titon Base battery played an essential role in the production, providing reliable power and allowing the team to shoot for long periods of time in a challenging environment. The result is a film that captures the essence of Juana Bacallao and her impact on Cuban culture, and a testament to the power of documentary filmmaking.