Hand Rolled: Essential viewing for all cigar lovers
I love a good documentary. Ones about true crime, music and film are amongst my favourites, but if it is well-made and engagingly presented I will watch it and lap it up. Of all the documentaries I have watched, there are precious few about cigars though. Enter “Hand Rolled: A Film about Cigars“.
I had heard murmurs about a full length documentary film being made about cigars and was keeping a close eye out for its release. At the beginning of October 2022 the wait was finally over and it appeared on YouTube. I quickly added it to my “Watch Later” list, the only issue now was to set aside the time to watch this 90 minute dive into the world of cigars. On a quiet evening couple of weeks later I sat down and set it going.
Hand Rolled: An award winning film
Back in 2018, the film won awards from the CKF International Film Festival and Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards. Featuring an amazing roster of people from the cigar industry and narrated by Robocop himself Peter Weller, Hand Rolled: A Film about Cigars begins with the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s and took me on a fascinating journey into the world of cigars.
The documentary started by looking at the culture of the cigar world today and how that still relates to the Native American and Central American view of tobacco being a way to communicate with the gods. From there is moved through recent FDA rulings and the differences between cigars and cigarettes before taking the viewer through the recent history of cigars and cigar production.
Over the course of watching Hand Rolled: A Film about Cigars, families with a long history in the cigar business such as Plasencia, Robina and Oliva shared their stories of escaping the Castro regime and setting up production first in Miami then Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and beyond. I learned more about how the US embargoes on Cuba and Nicaragua affected the economies of the countries.
After the slump of the 80s came the boom of the 90s and a slew of new brands hitting the market, some like Perdomo, Tatuaje and Quesida, standing the test of time, others falling into obscurity.
In and age of cost cutting, mechanising and regulation, it struck a chord with me just how much cigar brand owners take responsibility for not only their workers, but also their families, communities and countries. As Hand Rolled: A Film about Cigars pointed out, because of the cigar factories, living conditions have improved for workers. Schools, colleges and hospitals have sprung up to educate and look after those responsible for making the cigars.
With the tens of thousands of people that are involved in the cigar industry, and cigars being such an important part of various countries economies, it is more important than ever that we as consumers continue to enjoy our cigars and fight for right to enjoy them without prejudice and over regulation.
I think that Hand Rolled: A Film about Cigars is well-worth a watch, and when you do, why not light up a good cigar and smoke along with those who effuse with such passion about the humble tobacco leaf. And once you have watched that, why not check out this video I made about cigars.
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