Dead in Santiago

The search for the whereabouts of a Lebanese immigrant who disappeared mysteriously in Santiago de Cuba a century ago, reveals a wealth of characters who, in the midst of Carnival, face various forms of exile.

  • Title: Dead in Santiago
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Duration: 90 min
  • Director: Juan Manuel Sepúlveda
  • Producers: Santiago de la Paz and Juan Manuel Sepúlveda
  • Shooting locations: Santiago de Cuba
  • Shooting format: 2K
  • Languaje: Spanish
  • Shooting dates: Summer 2022
  • Post-production: Autumm and winter 2022

A filmmaker wanders around Santiago de Cuba looking for the traces of an exiled Lebanese ancestor of his who died a century ago. He knows nothing about him, except he was disavowed and forgotten by his family.

He searches through archives, government agencies, associations, churches, prisons and books that have been rotting in the cemetery. The only thing he finds is the registry of the burial in a communal grave which no longer exist. Nothing to find about this mysterious person who abandoned everything just to die on a remote island.

After exhausting all his leads, yet still intrigued about the dead man’s whereabouts, the filmmaker decides to take a journey to a rumored part of the island where supernatural phenomena is said to happen.

While trying to piece all the information together, the filmmaker encounters people who could’ve had some type of relationship with the deceased and help by finding more evidence about his life.

Through interviews and conversations with Santeria priests, intellectuals, spiritualist, charlatans, prostitutes, actresses, pimps, dockers, dancers, office workers, clairvoyants, fisherman, dignitaries and outsiders, do we begin to piece the puzzle of the dead man’s unusual life.

In the middle of the summer during the frenetic and spirited Carnival of Santiago de Cuba, the bodies, the lives and the stories of the people he meets begin to unravel connections with the deceased, embodying a story where the boundaries between the present and the past, the reality and the imagination, the living and the death, are blurred.

Immersed in a city marked by exile, hope, disillusion and unmeasured love, together they will tell a story for a dead man who needs a happy ending.