Martell Cognac, The World's Most Iconic Cognac House, presents a film showcase for "Mi Maestro", a film about Cachao, the legendary Cuban musician and composer who created and helped popularize mambo in the United States and across the globe in the early 1950s.
Veteran Actor Andy Garcia (who received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Vincent Mancini in The Godfather Part III, and starred in The Untouchables, Internal Affairs, When a Man Loves a Woman. Ocean's Eleven and its sequels, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, as well as The Lost City) screened the short film in its entirety and spoke passionately about the multi-Grammy Award winning Cachao, who is now enshrined in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
One of Cachao's Grammys was in collaboration with Gloria Estefan. Andy Garcia is passionate about mambo as an art form and has put together the best mambo dancers he could find to produce his film, including talent from his previous feature film about 1950's Havana, "The Lost City" starring Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray.
Andy Garcia dedicated his current film to Cachao, who he says "was the closest friend and companion to me during my adolescence and to this day, an artist I admire so much that I collected everything he recorded, and more importantly, influenced me as an individual and an artist so much that I carry him in my soul and I'm inspired to continue his tradition."
This fine Cognac tasting event and film screening was held at SmogShoppe, a former smog and auto repair building turned entertainment space in Culver City, CA. The modern decor mixed walls full of estate artifacts and architecture with remnants of the auto shope, automotive fan belts still hanging above the french doors of the restrooms.
The well heeled mambo dancers in designer dresses serving the expensive cognac along with tasty hors d'oeuvres kept the 300 plus guests entertained in the nicely decorated arena with a lively and festive DJ spinning music from the mambo to 80's new wave and anything that kept the guests dancing. The actors in Andy Garcia's film performed some mambo numbers on the dance floor before heading upstairs to the VIP cigar bar / library, decorated like a Sherlock Holmes' studio. The indoor/outdoor space had an international look, populated with guests in fedoras and 1940's - 1950's style of dress.
Andy Garcia still has that distinguished quality about him that fits well with his prior role in The Godfather series in that, he has the presence of a Marlon Brando now. When asked what he plans to do for the upcoming Oscars, he stated, "I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful home, and a nice big screen - I'm going to enjoy it there with a nice cigar." A perfectly expected answer from a legend from Hollywood. You can find the entire 6 minute short film here:
Photos by Gene Chang