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Vivien Lesnik Weisman Headshot

Cuba's Effect On Families

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For Cinephiles Only:
My documentary, The Man of Two Havanas, is my attempt to understand why my dad always put Cuba and his public life above his family. Well, namely ME.
Well, that's not really all that it is about....
It is also about his friendship with Castro (they made a revolution together), his subsequent breakup and reunion.
Well that's not really all it's about either...
It's also about the fact that I grew up as the daughter of the number one target of the anti-Castro terrorists.
So why a movie? Why not an essay, a magazine article or even a book? Well, simply, because I can.
But wait just a minute. My film idols were never the Maysles Brothers, but rather Antonioni and Bunuel. Their films could not be further from the documentary form. Antonioni, with his cinematic or aesthetic climax, rarely coinciding with the dramatic one; and Bunuel...well, the Bunuel I love is poetry in motion...not at all suited for documentary treatment.
So what is a filmmaker trained at UCLA by Polish genius Jerzy Antczak obsessed with the art of the moving master doing with a camera glued to a tripod in a living room in Miami interviewing her dad?
Well, I'm doing the best I can.
My idea was this: let my father tell his story and see what happens. Not much of a plan. No storyboards, no shot list, no script. Jesus, no script!! What the hell am I doing? When is the director showing up? So this is documentary filmmaking?
After hours and hours of torturing my dad in our living room in Miami and following him around the two Havanas, I had 160 hours of footage and a Final Cut Pro that kept crashing and deleting. But I had a secret weapon: a kickass editor, Tirsa Hackshaw.
As my eyes glazed over watching the endless parade of pictures I had an aha! moment. We need a story to tell this story. We need structure. Oh right, we need a script. Hmm...interesting. But even with all of that there was still something missing.
The missing element was me. I was missing. The time had come to make this massive blob my own, to use all of my skills as well as Antonioni's and Bunuel's and the Maysles' Brothers and Warhol's and any other artist I had devoured, dissected and internalized. Hmmm... The director, working in a great partnership with the editor and a script, and viola, it's a movie!
Well not exactly. Many cuts later, 36 cuts, caffeinated nights and 1 & 1/2 years, something began to take shape. And finally, my movie is complete and ready for its world premiere, not sheltered by the mountains of Utah, but at the Tribeca Film Festival in front of the most film savvy, Film Forum attending, sophisticated and critical audiences in America.
And there's even a moving master, courtesy of archival footage from "I am Cuba" ("Soy Cuba" 1964). And because this blog is for Cinephiles only, I know I don't need to explain the reference.
Wish me luck!

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