Los Tabaqueros: A Handmade Documentary Review

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Los Tabaqueros: A Handmade Documentary Review

This weekend I’m bringing you something a little different. It is a review, but not of a cigar. Instead it’s a review of a movie about cigars. And probably one you haven’t come across before. (Unless you spent a lot of time at film festivals in the past year or so.) It’s called Los Tabaqueros: A Handmade Documentary. In case you don’t already know “Tabaqueros” is another term for a cigar roller. (I hear the term “Torcedor” more often, myself.)

We were contacted a while back by the film’s director, Russell Griffin, who offered to send us the movie if we’d give it a review. A free movie about cigars? Who could say no? So with a little excitement, I popped the DVD in Saturday night. And as is my custom, I immediately selected the Special Features option from the DVD’s main menu. (I don’t know why I go to the special features first, call it a flaw of character.)

I was immediately impressed by the amount of content hiding in the Special Features section. A glossary, humidor seasoning tips and even information on the U.S. cigar Mecca, Calle Ocho. I spent a good half an hour or so breezing through the bonus content before deciding to get to the meat of the DVD. So I lit up the NUb Cameroon that I had in my pocket from the previous night’s cigar event, grabbed a cup of coffee and pressed play.

The movie is in essence a moment in the working life of four Tabaqueros at the El Credito Cigar Factory in Miami. As they roll cigars from scratch, they discuss the process and their thoughts on the art of making cigars by hand. But then suddenly the movie is over. At first I thought my DVD player was acting up again, but I glanced at the DVD case, and it is in fact an 8 minute movie!

I have to admit to be a little disappointed. I still had a full cup of coffee, and a barely singed NUb but no more cigar-themed video to go with them. So with a shrug, I pressed play again. Hey, I had at least 8 more minutes to burn.

With the brevity aside, it’s a thoroughly watchable video, especially for the cigar enthusiast. I hardly noticed that it was subtitled. (Surprise, the cigar rollers are Spanish speakers!) But my eyes were mostly focused on the tobacco as it gradually took the shape of a cigar.

So let’s break it down into the bad and the good:

The Bad

  • It’s too short. It left me wanting more.
  • It was filmed exclusively in the El Credito Cigar Factory. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good La Gloria Cubana, but I would have loved to see input from some other factories on Calle Ocho. (Maybe El Rey de los Habanos?)
  • I noticed a few inaccuracies in the cigar glossary. Most notably, in Smoking Time. In my opinion, if you smoke a 5 x 50 cigar in 20 minutes, you’re smoking way too fast. Or you have a leather tongue.
  • I think the cigar glossary would have been well served by a few relevant images.

The Good

  • It’s a great video illustration of the cigar making process.
  • There’s a huge amount of bonus content. The cigar glossary, humidor tips and Calle Ocho information were particularly interesting.
  • I would make a good gift, especially for anyone new to cigars. (It might also be handy for cigar shop owners to keep on hand for curious customers.)
  • It doesn’t take up too much of your time.

I should also mention that this movie was the creation of people who, according to the interview on the DVD, started out knowing next to nothing about cigars. And considering that, it is an impressive piece of work.

If you’d like to find out more, or pick up your copy of Los Tabaqueros: A Handmade Documentary, check out the official website. And thanks to Russell for giving me the opportunity to check out the movie!

enjoying cigars since 1997

4 thoughts on “Los Tabaqueros: A Handmade Documentary Review

  1. Brian,
    do you have a viewing time on it? I couldn’t find one on its home page, and for 25 bucks I’d like to know how many bags of popcorn to pop for this. Thanks alot, and again, great work.

  2. LOL Patrick,
    I think it’s safe to say you’ll only need one bag of popcorn. As I mentioned in the review, the actual feature video is only 8 minutes. (Actually, closer to 7 and a half, I timed it the second time I watched!) However, that being said, the special features content will keep you occupied a bit longer. I read, watched and listened to everything on the DVD (including bonus director interview and music tracks) in probably an hour or an hour and a half. And I mean everything. Most people probably won’t read every glossary entry like I did.

  3. Wow 8 minutes is rediculous! But I’m a sucker for cigar media, so I’ll end up with this eventually. It sounds like it sits in the middle of the CAO and Fuente video’s.

  4. Yeah Tom,
    I was really surprised when it was over. But it’s pretty good if you consider what it is, a short favorable art house treatment of the cigar industry. When was the last time outsiders treated the cigar industry favorably?

    I was thinking maybe we should a send a copy of this to local politicians every time they start talking about bans, with a note saying: “Look dummy. These are the people you’re gonna put out of work!” It’s short enough that maybe they won’t give it to a staffer to review for them. LOL

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