BRUNSWICK — Cuban films, food, and festivities are coming to town for the annual Cuba Week celebration organized by the Brunswick-Trinidad Sister City Association.
“This should be fun,” said Genie Wheelwright, head of the association. “We just want people to realize we have a sister city and we should be celebrating this.”
The week begins with a gallery talk at the Frontier Cafe on Monday at 5:30 p.m about the paintings of Elio Vilva Trujillo, which are on display at the cafe. Vilva is a Cuban painter who incorporates Afro-Cuban religious iconography and spirits into his work. He is a scholar of Santeria, a uniquely Cuban religion that incorporates aspects of Yoruba, a West African religion, and Catholicism.
On Wednesday, the Frontier is showing “East of Havana,” a film about hip-hop music and culture in Havana, with profiles of three members of an underground rap collective.
Friday night at Frontier the Portland-based Afro-Cuban music group Olas will play. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
An Afro-Cuban drumming workshop rounds out the week on Saturday afternoon, April 16. Bowdoin College ethnomusicology Professor Michael Birenbaum Quintero, and Dylan Blanchard, of Olas, will be teaching the workshop, which begins at 3 p.m. at the Cram Alumni House at 83 Federal St. and is limited to 20 participants.
In addition to the sponsored events, restaurants around town are featuring Cuban food and drinks on their menus.
Henry & Marty is offering ropa vieja, or marinated shredded beef, empanadas, fried plantains, and Cuban shrimp. That dish was first offered as part of Cuba week several years ago, but was so popular that it became a permanent menu item, said owner Paul Holingsworth.
Across town at El Camino, the Cuban mojito has always been a customer favorite. Next week the restaurant is offering other Cuban cocktails like Cuba libra, or rum and coke, and Juanna Havana, a coconut limeade with rum. Co-owner Eloise Humphrey said she will also feature Cuban pork with morros and cristianos, a rice-and-bean dish, and Cuban black bean soup.
Gelato Fiasco is also capitalizing on the event, and whipping up flavors like rice pudding, plaintain, mojito and banana rum.
While Cuba Week celebrates the country as a whole, Brunswick’s sister city is Trinidad. Wheelwright said Brunswick was assigned Trinidad by an umbrella organization of U.S.-Cuba sister cities because of similarities between the two towns. Both are coastal, have fishing industries, and are centers of art and culture in their regions.
Wheelwright said there are other ways to get involved with Trinidad outside of Cuba Week. In the past, the group has organized a variety of humanitarian efforts, ranging from buying a small school bus, packing it with medical supplies and sending it to Cuba, to organizing book drives.
“Trinidad is the pearl of Cuba,” Wheelwright said of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
She encouraged town residents to “celebrate how lucky we are to have this relationship.”
For more information on Cuba Week, visit www.brunswicktrinidad.org.
“Yemaya Con Peces” is a painting by Cuban artist Elio Vilva Trujillo. His work is on display at the Frontier Cafe in Brunswick until May 8.