The Lost Son of Havana (2009)

Genres - Culture & Society, Sports & Recreation  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Social History, Sports  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States  |  
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Synopsis by Josh Ralske

Jonathan Hock, who co-directed Through the Fire, which dealt with the auspicious beginning of Sebastian Telfair's NBA career, returns to the sports documentary with The Lost Son of Havana. The movie shows defector and former major league pitcher Luis Tiant as he returns to Cuba after over 46 years in exile, and flashes back to show highlights from his remarkable pro baseball career. It also deals with Tiant's relationship with his father, who was a star pitcher in Cuba and in the Negro Leagues before the revolution. Luis Tiant was playing in the States during the Bay of Pigs invasion, after which the Cuban government essentially told its baseball players, come home and play as amateurs, or stay out forever. At the age of twenty, urged on by a letter from his father, Tiant made the painful decision to pursue his professional baseball career and abandon his parents, his friends, and his home in Cuba. Aided by the filmmakers, Tiant gets permission to return to Cuba at age 67. There, he finds vast changes, but also many familiar sights and a surprising number of people who still remember him. The filmmakers intercut this voyage home with clips and interviews highlighting Tiant's career. Tiant was a fireballer for the Cleveland Indians in the 1960s, then he broke his shoulder in 1970 playing for the Twins. He reinvented himself as a wily junkballer with a uniquely distracting delivery, and achieved great success with the Boston Red Sox. The film also describes Tiant's efforts to get his parents out of Cuba so they could see him pitch. The Lost Son of Havana had its World Premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was shown in the Encounters section.