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Communication / Culture > Documentary

With a Stroke of the Chaveta

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With a Stroke of the Chaveta


DVD Price $250
Streaming Price (1 year) $250
Streaming Price (1 year) + DVD $375
Streaming Price (3 years) $600
Streaming Price (3 years) + DVD $725
Digital Sale, with 5 years free streaming
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Don Quixote, Les Misérables, One Hundred Years of Solitude. The practice of reading classic works of literature to workers at cigar factories dates back to the mid-1800s. With a Stroke of the Chaveta explores this rich tradition that continues to flourish in Cuba.

With a Stroke of the Chaveta takes viewers into the legendary cigar factories of Cuba to witness the unique practice of the collective reading of literature while tabaqueros hand-roll cigars. From current events to classical literature, these readings shape and enlighten an often illiterate working-class society. Through interviews with highly-esteemed readers, we learn about the challenges of meeting the expectations of a knowledgeable and demanding workforce, and the satisfaction of receiving the applause of hundreds of chavetas in unison.

From the middle of the 1800s to the early 1900s “lectores,” or readers, were an integral part of the world of cigar workers in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Florida, and New York. Through their readings, communities of cigar workers were entertained, educated, and developed a sense of class solidarity. Starting with the 10 Year War in Cuba, factory reading was banned by the authorities, and it was not until the workers’ association was formed in the 1890s that factory reading regained its position as the “culture” in the workplaces.

With a Stroke of the Chaveta illustrates how this unique art form has stirred the masses and shaped politics throughout Cuba’s history.

Pam Sporn is a film maker and teacher. Her documentaries have won several film festival awards.

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