Benicio Del Toro in Cuba to Direct Segment for 'Seven Days in Havana'

8:27 PM PST 03/03/2011 by Agustin Mango
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The actor makes his helming debut with the collective film, whose other participating filmmakers include Julio Medem, Laurent Cantet, Pablo Trapero, Gaspar Noe, Elia Suleiman, and Juan Carlos Tabio.

BUENOS AIRES -- Puerto Rican Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro arrived in Cuba earlier this week to direct a segment in the collective film Seven Days in Havana.

Del Toro's first time as a director will be a documentary featuring an American actor traveling to the island for a seminar. The doc was first presented in December during the New Latin American Film Festival in Havana and will be supported by production companies Full House (France) and Morena Films (Spain). With a 3 million euro budget, the cast of filmmakers participating will also include Julio Medem, Laurent Cantet, Pablo Trapero, Gaspar Noe, Elia Suleiman and Juan Carlos Tabio.

"Havana is the best place to be starting this adventure; to shoot my first project as a director here is a great privilege," Del Toro told Cuban agency Prensa Latina. "For now, this is the only project I will be focusing on in the next days. That's what I have in mind, I focus on one thing at a time."
 
The shooting is scheduled to start next Friday, starring Cuban actors Daisy Granados and Vladimir Cruz. In the meantime, Del Toro will scout locations in Havana's Old Quarter.
 
Del Toro is no stranger to Havana. Last time he was there was in July 2008 to receive a lifetime achievement award, and he was even praised by Fidel Castro for his performance as Ernesto Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's Spanish-spoken Che, which won him a best actor award in Cannes and a Spanish Goya in the same category.

"I have good friends here," he said. "I always come here only to work, but I love to do so." 

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