When you see a scene of Havana in an American film, unless it is a pre-1959 film you are watching a fake cinema. Since 1959 and until recently, no American filmmaker could bring its cameras to Cuba, without entering into a conflict with the Treasury Department, and all the sanctions set against those who travel to the island without the required licenses.
Therefore, the director Bob Yari and the producer team of the film “Papa” opened a new era, when landing in Havana with all permits, but not to make just another a movie, but a biographical film about the American writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Cuba between 1939 and 1960, where he wrote his memorable “the Old Man and the Sea” and whose Virgin Patroness, Our Lady of Charity, he presented the medal of his Nobel Prize.
Filming began in March and ended in late April this year. Before we started shooting, the film project caused a stir, because actress Sharon Stone said that Yari wanted to force her to travel to Cuba illegally to play the role of Mary Hemingway, fourth and last wife of the author of “A Farewell to arms. ”
The Stone went as far as filing a lawsuit. And the fact is that Yari had between the eyes the idea of his film in the exact locations on the same sea where Hemingway once fished marlins or chased German submarines during World War II. And to that end, he got the U.S. Treasury Department to grant him and his team a special license, but bureaucratically considering this fiction film as a documentary.
“It was vital for me to do it in Cuba, where everything happened in the script, where the estate on which he lived is, and where his boat were, and everything else, from the Morro castle to Cojimar , where he used to fish . Everything is here. Trying to duplicate elsewhere was not attractive, “Yari told AP.
But it was a difficult experience. Despite the support provided by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) the film crew had to face “every day a new drama,” to the point of resuming the old habit of passing the papers with plans for the day below the doors, instead of emailing.
Yari complained about such trifles, but his stay in Cuba, and on behalf of Hemingway, he had quite a few privileges, such as access and turn into his plateau the former Presidential Palace, now the Museum of the Revolution, which is under repair.
starring actors Adrian Sparks and Giovanni Ribisi, the plot of “Papa” lapses in the late 50s and discusses the friendship between young journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc and Hemingway, who invites the first to Cuba, after reading a letter to express his admiration.
Sparks grew up seeing Cuba as a “dark and evil country somewhere in the fog.” Two months in and around Havana helped him discover “a beautiful country and its people.”
Hemingway ´s memories helped for the second time in less than a semester, to overcome the US embargo. In March 2014, Representative James McGovern was present together with Cuban Deputy Minister of Cultural Fernando Rojas in the signing of a bilateral agreement for the restoration of Finca Vigia, the iconic house where the Nobel Prize laureate resided in Cuba.
Bob Yari knows it and says: “Hemingway was probably the most prominent American who settled in Cuba and I think Cubans today still love and admire him. Hopefully this film will add to the things that help bridge the gap between two cultures and peoples. ”