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Ernesto (2017)

Erunesuto (original title)
1:01 | Trailer
The first film in forty years to be co-produced by Cuba and Japan, it recounts the story of Freddy Maymura Hurtado who was a Bolivian man of Japanese descent. He joined the freedom fighters... See full summary »


Junji Sakamoto


Junji Sakamoto





Credited cast:
Joe Odagiri ... Ernest
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alexis Díaz de Villegas
Roberto Espinosa Roberto Espinosa ... Fidel Castro
Giselle Lominchar Giselle Lominchar ... Luisa
Kento Nagayama
Juan M. Valero Juan M. Valero ... Che


The first film in forty years to be co-produced by Cuba and Japan, it recounts the story of Freddy Maymura Hurtado who was a Bolivian man of Japanese descent. He joined the freedom fighters lead by Che Guevara in 1966 and was martyred at the age of twenty five. Aiming to rid his world of injustice and the gap between the rich and powerful and the rest of us the inspiring film reminds the viewer of the need for living with a purpose. Ernesto means 'serious,' but was also Che Guevara's first name. Written by aghaemi

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Did You Know?


The film was part of the line-up at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival in Toronto in 2018. See more »


En las Playas del Beni
(Bolivia, Beni traditional)
Sang by Joe Odagiri
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User Reviews

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
19 June 2018 | by aghaemiSee all my reviews

Japanese actor Odagiri Jo visited Toronto directly after completing filming Ernesto in 2017. He was sporting a Che Guevara scarf and told the fans about the movie he had just completed. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre decided to procure the film for a screening.

The release coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the killings of both Ernesto "Che" Guevara the famous Argentinian doctor, motorcycle wanderer, Communist revolutionary and freedom fighter and Freddy "Ernesto" Maymura Hurtado the obscure Japanese-Bolivian who fought alongside him and was killed by the CIA-backed military dictatorship in Bolivia. Freddy is a second generation Japanese-Bolivian whose father has migrated to the South American country from Kagoshima. Aiming to study medicine he travels to Cuba and becomes involved with the famous Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. With most of the film's dialogue being in Spanish it is left to Japanese star Odagiri to not only mouth his lines in Spanish, but also to recite them with a Bolivian accent. He does so, but this writer cannot tell with which degree of success in regards to the correct accent and enunciation. It is entertaining seeing Odagiri's trademark mannerisms manifest in the character of a second-generation half-Japanese in Cuba whatever the amount of success. The actor has also undergone a transformation for the film with a haircut befitting the time period and geography and gotten a bronze tan here as well.

This film is Freddy's story.

Ernesto begins with footage from the Cuban revolution. One of the revolutionaries on the side of Fidel Castro is the legendary Che who shortly thereafter visits Japan in the name of Cuban-Japanese relations and promoting trade between the countries and makes time to visit Hiroshima in order to pay his respects to the victims of the American atomic bomb which was dropped on the city in 1945. The Japanese may have seen 200,000 of their countrymen incinerated, yet they are unhappy with the visit and worry about their relationship with the USA. A sole reporter proceeds to cover the visit and interview Che. Che has his own questions for the Japanese. "Why aren't you angry at the Americans?" and referring to the Hiroshima memorial plaque "why doesn't it say who committed the mistake? US could have ended the war without the bomb." The Cubans and their revolutionary comrades compare the American attack on Cuba at the Bay Of Pigs with Pearl Harbor and ask how one could be called unjustified while the other is rationalized by the Americans At the same time,Freddy and his compatriots land in Cuba to study medicine as the young man wants to become a physician for all the right reasons. He wants to help, do something humanitarian with the skill and provide medicine and care to the poor of Latin America. He is studious and serious, but also kind and active. The nuclear crisis and threat of an American invasion change things and turn the students into volunteer guerillas. Worse, while in Cuba Freddy's homeland has been the subject of a CIA-assisted military coup. With their school temporarily transformed into makeshift barracks Freddy and friends take up arms. When a Cuban remarks that beginning that day the sky is their ceiling he has no idea how prophetic he is being. The sky is indeed the ceiling and earth is his bed when the man progresses from manning an AA gun on the lookout for American war planes in Cuba to fighting as a guerilla in the jungles of Bolivia. He leaves behind a career as a physician, a love interest and admiring and loyal friends to fight for liberty back in his homeland. For his idealism and integrity he is rewarded with an ambush, a betrayal and more.

The biopic is special for telling the story of the hitherto unknown Freddy. It becomes even more interesting because it chronicles the man rubbing shoulders with Che - who gives him his own name Ernesto as a nom de guerre - and Fidel Castro. The rare Japanese-Cuban co-production also offers the viewer shots of buildings, facades, streets and nature in Cuba. It is a rare combination of cinema.

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Official Sites:

Official Site [Japan]


Japan | Cuba


Spanish | Japanese

Release Date:

6 October 2017 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Ernesto See more »

Filming Locations:

Havana, Cuba

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kino Films, RTV Comercial See more »
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