I had the privilege of attending a private screening of Andy Garcia’s “The Lost City” with my friend Mora.
Notice my use of the word privilege to categorize my participation, it was, a great privilege. I’m not a film critic, nor do I aspire to be that. But this film is special, this film fills the screen with the story that’s always on our mind, this film rights wrongs committed by the Oliver Stones of Hollywood, this film tells the truth about Cuba, about che, and about that damned revolution a murderous dictator’s imposed on Cuba for almost a half century.
It is beautiful, carefully filmed in the Dominican Republic, you forget it’s not really Cuba. You can feel the warm breezes, smell the sugar cane, and sense the impending tragedy about to overtake the island.
Andy Garcia labored for sixteen years to bring this project to fruition, it was a labor of love dedicated to some special people in his life, including his father, who like so many exiles, never again saw his beloved Cuba. It’s a gift for the exile community, a public validation of their story. Gone are the rose colored glasses Hollywood has used to portray castro and his executioner. This film hates them just as much as you do. Finally, we have a film portrayal of che that exposes his evil ugliness so vividly you almost have to turn from the screen in disgust, it’s that palpable. The cinematography is wonderful, the costumes are authentic and wonderful. And the music, the music narrates this film. If you love Cuban music from that lost era as I do, be prepared to be its captive. It will carry you through the film and fill your heart with that special joy that only comes from Cuban music, and it will break your heart.
I also had the privilege of participating in a round table interview session attended by about ten members of the “Hollywood” press, along with Andy Garcia, Ines Sastre, Nestor Carbonell and Enrique Murciano. The actors came in one at a time, each one spending about twenty minutes answering questions and sharing their thoughts on the film. All of them expressed great pride and gratitude for being a part of the film. The three Cubans were united in their hope that viewers will leave the theatre with a better understanding of the Cuban exile experience. They were passionate about their love for Cuba, and made clear their politics. Several of the press members asked if they had considered filming in Cuba, or if they had visited the island. Not until castro is gone and Cuba is free was their unanimous answer. One reporter repeatedly asked Andy what he could remember of Cuba since he was so young when he left. He repeated his answer, the scene in the airport when they left, just like in the movie. She finally gave it up after he gave her a vivid account of the fright he experienced from watching castro’s gun toting goons cutting off his sister’s rings before they were allowed to leave. I’m not sure what, if any point she was trying to make.
Several reporters wanted to know exactly what common beliefs about Cuba are misconceived. Cumulatively, the three men gave them a stunning lesson about the reality of Cuba. The truth about castro and che, the revolution, the executions, the apartheid, the lack of human rights, the crackdowns, the rationing, the jinteras selling themselves for a glass of milk; these guys gave the Hollywood press an earful, and they did it with great Cuban panache. One of them joked that he hoped he would still be working after this. It was great.
I’ll never again accept a critic’s movie review knowing just what small, full of themselves uppity little toads these people can be. I hope they are not all like that. I won’t be surprised if the reviews for “The Lost City” are awful, but don’t believe them. Go see this movie.