The following movie was screened at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.
The Man of Two Havanas
Dir: Vivien Lesnik Weisman
Born in Havana and raised in Miami, director Vivien Lesnik Weisman was never able to fully comprehend the huge rift between the Cubans who stayed in Cuba, and the Cubans who got out. Her father, Max Weisman, is a noted political activist, journalist, and radio personality, and is also an open opponent of the embargo placed on the island by the United States, citing that the only thing the embargo does is suffocate the island-country even more than it already is.
From the beginning, Weisman states her resentment towards Cuba and the people of Cuba for having occupied so much of her father’s attention, and ultimately leaving her and her older sister aside. She visits her homeland to try and understand this resentment and why her father has fought for his country for so many years.
We find out that her father was an early revolutionary, fighting alongside Castro in the overthrow of then leader Fulgencio Batista. But, when Castro flirted with the notion of Communism and with the Soviets, Max stood up against such ideologies and decided to leave Cuba for the United States.
Weisman is able to fluidly bring to light the events her father went through as a Cuba sympathizer in a Miami that was run by right-wing radical Cubans who were against Castro and anything having to deal with their country in general. Anyone who sympathized with the plight of Cubans still on the island was seen as subversive elements of the Miami community, and was dealt with harshly. Max’s newspaper RÃ©plica had its headquarters bombed eleven times in the mid 70′s.
Weisman traces the roots of hatred towards Cuba on behalf of Stateside Cubans all the way to the Senate and House of Representatives, where figures such as the DÃaz-Balart brothers wield a considerable influence in continuing the embargo. For them, the embargo weakens Castro and his regime, when in reality, all it does is directly hurt the impoverished citizens of an island that sees no economic stability and freedom in the near future.
As a child, Weisman never understood her father’s unyielding love for his country and why he would risk his life and the lives of his family members for it. In the end, she finally realizes that the history of this country and its people, her country and her people, is so immensely rich, deep, and beautiful, that it is worth every ounce of effort needed to fight for.
/Film Rating: 9 out of 10