Lessons for Luca

(Lessons for Luca)
Salvador Gieling | Documentary

2021 | 87 minutes | The Netherlands

In this mesmerizing family saga, a personal story is inseparably intertwined with the history of Cuba when a farmer gets a six-year sentence for selling his own cow.


Uncle Ezequiel is serving a six-year prison sentence. What crime did this Cuban farmer commit? Answer: He sold his own cow.

Filmmaker Salvador Gieling, a cousin-by-marriage, can’t get his head around it. And if he can’t, how will Luca – his two-year-old son and Ezequiel’s nephew – ever understand it? So Salvador and his wife Belga travel to the heart of the Cuban countryside and, together with the family members, undertake the almost impossible mission of trying to explain to their two-year-old son Luca the story of his uncle Ezequiel.

The film intertwines the country’s incredible history with truth-finding about Ezequiel’s case and the personal story of Belga (who managed to get out of Cuba). Bit by bit, the film reveals how the struggles of the protagonists are connected to a greater history and the same question that keeps coming up: “What does freedom mean?”

Lessons for Luca is also an affectionate family portrait, framed by the captivating music of cellist Ernst Reijseger, whose melancholy melodies are interspersed with playful moments and scenes that highlight the joy and vitality of life.

Main credits

Gieling, Salvador (film director)
Gieling, Salvador (screenwriter)
Lammertsma, Iris (film producer)
Koole, Boudewijn (film producer)

Other credits

Editing, Bobbie Roeloffs & Salvador Gieling; music, Ernst Reijseger.

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International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam IDFA; Hot Docs 2022;

DIRECTOR: Salvador Gieling

NATIONALITY: The Netherlands

YEAR: 2021

GENRE: Documentary


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: Middle School, High School, College, Adult



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