With a Stroke of the Chaveta (Con el toque de la chaveta) [2007]

13 Jun

28m; Cuba
Director: Pamela Sporn
Synopsis: Takes viewers into the legendary cigar factories of Cuba where we witness the unique tradition of ‘la lectura de tabaqueria’, the collective reading of literature while tabaqueros roll habanos.

Contact: 917-921-8678 (Cell)

English subtitles throughout
distributed by Grito Productions:

With a Stroke of the Chaveta is a poetic documentary short (28 minutes) that leaves us wondering where to draw the line between “worker” and “intellectual.” From the middle of the 1800s to the early 1900s lectores, or readers, were an integral part of the world of cigar workers in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Florida, and New York. Through “la lectura,” or reading, communities of cigar workers were entertained, educated, and developed a sense of class solidarity.

The voice of the cigar makers’ beloved lector is but a whisper in most places. How has the tradition of factory readings survived in Cuba?

Con el toque de la chaveta (With a Stroke of the Chaveta) takes viewers into the legendary cigar factories of Cuba to witness the unique practice of “la lectura de tabaquería”, the collective reading of literature while tabaqueros roll habanos. From “lectores” Odalys, Aguila and Gricel we learn about the challenges of meeting the expectations of a knowledgeable and demanding workforce and the satisfaction of receiving the applause of hundreds of “chavetas” in unison. Cigar makers inform us that they can’t imagine working without a reader to accompany them.

Directed and Produced by Pam Sporn
Camera: Rigoberto Senarega Madruga
Editor: Pam Sporn

Festival Screenings and Prizes
First Prize: Festival del Habano Film Festival, Havana, 2012
Best Documentary Short: Cine Las Americas Film Festival, Austin,Texas, 2008
Festival internacional del nuevo cine latinoamericano, Havana
Maysles Cinema, Harlem, NY
Chicago International Latino Film Festival
London International Documentary Film Festival
Gasparilla Film Festival, Tampa, Florida
Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival

Quote from a review: Pam Sporn’s engaging documentary, Con el toque de la chaveta, provides a revealing contemporary view of a thriving cultural institution, created by and for workers long before the Cuban revolution.
Robert Ingalls, Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida
Co-author (with Louis A. Perez, Jr.) of Tampa Cigar Workers: A Pictorial History


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