In March, we finally did it. With grants from the San Francisco Foundation, the Eastman Fund, and numerous contributions from many of you, we traveled to Cuba to film the realization of our now 15-year old son Mica’s three-year effort to donate baseball equipment to Cuban youth. We had an amazing journey. With 200 lbs of bats, balls, mitts, catcher’s gear, batting helmets, and cleats, we stayed just this side of the baggage limits.
Our Cuba voyage took us to the Martin Luther King Center in Havana, who eagerly accepted Mica’s donation and plans to distribute it to youth leagues throughout the island. We visited the house where Mica’s grandpa lived after fleeing the Nazis in 1941. We saw Havana’s small but lively Jewish community, and watched. Havana’s youth baseball champions play, where Mica gleefully started in centerfield and laced a single off a Dominican pitcher.
We discovered an island that defies easy explanation. One evening we attended a semi-final baseball game in the National Series for 1 peso—the cost of a soda. Every Cuban can afford to bring their family, and you see the pride and energy in the stands. Ballet, jazz, and classical music are easily taken in for little or no money. Yet in Old Havana, Mica’s grandpa’s house, a once beautiful building from the 1920s, is abandoned and largely gutted—after ten years of waiting for a promised renovation. A few blocks away, a member of a local synagogue gave Mica and his brother Jaden a tour of the old Jewish section. Today only a kosher butcher shop remains, where, as their guide proudly pointed out, Havana’s Jews bring their ration books to obtain their alloted portion of beef—two pounds a month. On the day we visited, there was no meat. Through the excellent skill of our amazing Cuban cinematographer, we captured it all on film.
Cuba is often portrayed in films as either the repressive dictatorship or the noble experiment in a socially just state. But we know of no film that sees its complexity through the eyes of a young person. Mica’s journey began with a Bar Mitzvah, and his Rabbi’s challenge to take on adult responsibility through tikkun olam—mending the world. The footage we gathered in Cuba allows us to complete the story of the twists and turns of his efforts—the trickiness of “doing good,” and the complexity of squaring youthful idealism with political reality.
Looking forward, we are on track to finish the film by the end of 2011. We plan to begin editing this summer, when Ken has a month break between projects. Here’s what you can do to help:
We are so excited about this story, our footage, and the good work we know the film can do. We couldn’t do it without the support of our network. Thanks for being on the team.