Cuba: Living Between Hurricanes Climate, Commodities and Sustainability

This 70-minute documentary, directed by Michael Chanan and produced by Jonathan Curry-Machado and Jean Stubbs on behalf of the Commodities of Empire project, was launched in Havana on 10 December 2019, during the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. It  is now available open access through the film’s website ( The film is a co-production with the Cuban Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza el Hombre and ICAIC (Instituto Cuban del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos). It was produced with funding from the AHRC, as part of a Research Networking grant.

This is a film about the elements – hurricanes and rain, the sea and the earth. About a fishing port on the north coast of Cuba which has seen better days: Caibarién, where Hurricane Irma – one of the most powerful ever to sweep the Caribbean – made landfall on 9th September 2017. About the effects of climate across the centuries in a Caribbean island sucked into global markets for its commodity crops – tobacco, coffee and above all, sugar. How sugar changed the landscape, through deforestation and soil exhaustion. About the collapse of sugar and the encroachment of a new commodity market – tourism. About the growing threat from climate change, and the move towards reforestation, ecotourism and sustainable farming.

The film combines testimony from local residents and interviews with experts, location filming and archival footage.

For further information concerning this production, please contact Dr Jonathan Curry-Machado.

A book by Jonathan Curry-Machado, and based on the film (and the interviews made for this), has been published – Cuba: Living Between Hurricanes (Amaurea Press, 2021)