Just got back from the world premiere screening of The Man of Two Havanas at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The movie, which will be shown here several times over the next week, is director Vivien Lesnik Weisman's documentary portrait of her father Max Lesnik, who was raised in Havana, Cuba and later moved to Miami's Little Havana, but wound up fighting against the tide in both cities.
The reason for Lesnik's disenfranchisement was his political outspokenness. In Cuba, after befriending Fidel Castro while a teenager in college and playing a key role in the Cuban Revolution of 1958, Lesnik became disillusioned over the Castro's government marriage of ideologies with the Soviet Union.
In Miami, where he moved with his wife and two daughters, Lesnik was alienated by his refusal to toe the right-wing Cuban exile political line - and paid dearly for it. A sharp, charismatic and eloquent man, Lesnik is a fascinating subject for a film, and his daughter turns The Man of Two Havanas into a love letter to her father and a blistering critique of enduring political attitudes towards Cuba - including the U.S. embargo of the island.
At the screening, I ran into former Miami Film Festival director Nicole Guillemet (who is now apartment-hunting in New York) and asked her why the movie didn't premiere in Miami, where it would have been a natural. Guillemet says she loved the film and would have absolutely programmed it, political controversy or not, but it simply wasn't ready in time.
I am interviewing Lesnik and her father tomorrow for a story to run in the paper sometime next week.
Saturday Apr. 28
The Man of Two Havanas (2007)