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Life is to Whistle (1998)

La vida es silbar (original title)
Three characters in present-day Havana must choose between clinging to their self-restricting beliefs, or getting rid of them to live more freely. Ballerina Mariana has promised God ... See full summary »


Fernando Pérez

On Disc

at Amazon

17 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
José Andrade José Andrade ... Obrero Teatro
Maudelet Badia Maudelet Badia ... Odalisca 2
Elena Bolaños Elena Bolaños ... Anciana Asilo
Rolando Brito Rolando Brito ... Dr. Fernando
Alina Canizares Alina Canizares ... Profesora 1
Leandro Carfuso Leandro Carfuso ... Elpidito
Ines Maria Castillo Ines Maria Castillo ... Cuba Valdes
Ileana Chávez Ileana Chávez ... Secretaria 1
Michaelis Cue Michaelis Cue ... Hombrecito
Annieye Cárdenas Annieye Cárdenas ... Desmayados
Miguel A. Daranas Miguel A. Daranas ... Director Asilo
Aramís Delgado Aramís Delgado ... Vigon
Aimeé Despaigne Aimeé Despaigne ... Profesora 2
Madeleine Garcia Madeleine Garcia ... Secretaria 2
Luis Alberto García Luis Alberto García ... Elpidio Valdes


Three characters in present-day Havana must choose between clinging to their self-restricting beliefs, or getting rid of them to live more freely. Ballerina Mariana has promised God celibacy if she gets the role of "Giselle"; Social-worker Julia always faints after hearing a certain word; and pot-smoking percussionist Elpidio was abandoned by his mother, coincidentally named Cuba, some time ago and has not yet gotten over the loss. Written by Gonz30

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Tres historias, tres personajes y un fin común: la búsqueda de la felicidad en La Habana de hoy.




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Cuba | Spain



Release Date:

18 June 1999 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Life is to Whistle See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,846, 9 January 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$63,574, 12 November 2000
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Referenced in La vida es filmar (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Life is to Whistle Review sltc812@u.washington.edu
9 November 2009 | by sltc812See all my reviews

Reading the other comments on the page and seeing the movie, I enjoyed Life is to Whistle. I saw use of the different words, like "sex" when the girl fainted, meant to be like people weren't using the words in the same way and they weren't using freedom in an everyday sense. When things are forbidden, the characters had a psychological reaction and thus they responded with reflexive actions like fainting or yawning. I think this was the director's commentary. I enjoyed how the three people were represented from the time they were children and how, as they grew up, they had their own separate lives that went on. Julia dedicated herself to being a caregiver, forgetting about herself and her own needs. When Julia brought in her daughter and left her at the orphanage, Elpidio was there and he accepted her as a little sister. Growing up not talking, she would whistle instead. The dancer Mariana wanted a part so badly that she vowed celibacy to God if he gave her a certain part in a dance. This is how she expressed her passion. People in the movie did not use the words "freedom" or "love" and sex was not had because of people's love for each other. People were not used to hearing these words, and it would make them faint when they eventually did. This movie is a typical representation of Cuban cinema because it talks about patriotism and freedom; it shows how poor the country is but that despite the lack of money, they did the best that they could to make their lives their own. There are also undertones of betrayal and how the country betrays its own residents, shown by Elpidio burning the tattoo off of his back. Overall, this movie was not outstanding but it was from the point of view of Latin America and it was speaking to the people of Havana, letting them know that they could have freedom and that "love" and "freedom" need to be brought back into the community.

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