Review: ‘The Man of Two Havanas’

The U.S.-Cuba impasse may derive from the personal squabbles of a few families, according to documaker Vivien Lesnik Weisman in her spunky and pointed "The Man of Two Havanas."

The U.S.-Cuba impasse may derive from the personal squabbles of a few families, according to documaker Vivien Lesnik Weisman in her spunky and pointed “The Man of Two Havanas.” It’s personal for Weisman, as well: Her father, Max Lesnik, has vainly attempted to broker negotiations between the nations over four decades, much to his daughter’s frustration. She comes to a change of heart as she makes the film, one of the lighter recent works on the nettlesome subject, and prime for international tube play.

Though she’s mad at her father and the island country for consuming so much of his life — and making him the target of multiple terror bombings by radical anti-Castroites in Miami — Weisman ventures to Cuba to try to understand the issues. After being one of the key players during the revolution, Lesnik spurned Castro’s adopted Marxist-Leninist stance and fled for Florida, where he was met with hostility by exiles from the deposed regime. Lesnik’s gutsy “third way” has always spurred protest and worse among Florida’s Cubans, and his survival seems just this side of miraculous.

The Man of Two Havanas

Production

A Latino Vision presentation. (International sales: Latino Vision, Santa Monica, Calif.) Produced by Vivien Lesnick Weisman. Directed by Vivien Lesnik Weisman. Written by Weisman, Tirsa Hackshaw, Sarah Monson.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, DV), Paul Marschall; editor, Hackshaw; music, Michael Wandmacher. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Oct. 16, 2007. (In Los Angeles Latino, Tribeca film festivals.) Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Max Lesnik, Vivien Lesnik Weisman, Maria Teresa, Miriam Lesnik, Naty Revuelta, Ann Louise Bardach, Peter Kornbluh, Wayne Smith, George Kiszynski, Frank Calzon, Bernardo Benes. Narrator: Vivien Lesnik Weisman. (English, Spanish dialogue)
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