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Just Back From Havana: Julie Taymor

OCCUPATION New York-based director of film (Frida, Titus) and theater (The Lion King)

ON THE ROAD Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal ("my happily unmarried partner for the past twenty years") were recently invited to show Frida at the Havana Film Festival. "I didn't see any films; I can do that anytime. I wanted to see the city. It's like the Paris of a Caribbean island."

HAUNTED HOUSING "The Hotel Nacional [Calle 21; 537/333-564; www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com; doubles from $170] reminded me of the Copacabana in Rio, but it also had a decaying elegance, this memory of another time."

A TREE GROWS IN HAVANA "We've been brainwashed into thinking that Communist countries are gray and depressing, but in Cuba everyone is so expressive and passionate. They are rejuvenating Old Havana, painting the buildings and wooden shutters in yellow, turquoise, and peach. Elliot and I were out every night until three or four, drinking mojitos and beer, meeting artists and other interesting people. It would be a phenomenal place to make a film someday." —DAVID A. KEEPS

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