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'Cuba was a character in the movie': 'Papa' tells story of Ernest Hemingway and protege amid revolution




Giovanni Ribisi and Adrian Sparks are seen in a still from the film, 'Papa: Hemingway in Cuba.'
Giovanni Ribisi and Adrian Sparks are seen in a still from the film, 'Papa: Hemingway in Cuba.'
Jon Erickson
Giovanni Ribisi and Adrian Sparks are seen in a still from the film, 'Papa: Hemingway in Cuba.'
Adrian Sparks is seen in a still from the film, 'Papa: Hemingway in Cuba.'
Jon Erickson


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Last summer, the decades-long cold war between the U.S. and Cuba officially came to an end. The two countries restored diplomatic relations and re-opened embassies in each other's capitals.

Since then we've seen a number of ways the two countries can work together, including cinematically. This week marks the debut of the first Hollywood film to shoot on location in Cuba since the 1959 revolution. It's called "Papa: Hemingway in Cuba."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC130UBgtfk

The film is based on the true story of Denne Bart Petitclerc, and the friendship he came to develop with Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary. Producer Amanda Harvey and director Bob Yari joined host Alex Cohen to tell more about the film.

Interview Highlights

On how much creative license was taken with the story:

Bob Yari: "The story is a very kind of first-hand recounting of Denne's tale of his experience with the Hemingways. And there's very, very little license taken. We really wanted to do honor to Denne's very personal story and his very intricate insight into the nuanced person that Hemingway was."

On deciding where the film would be made:

Bob Yari: "Well when I first read the script, one of the things that struck me was that Cuba was a character in the movie. It was much more than just a location, a backdrop of where the story happens. The Cuban people that Hemingway loved so much, the people, everything was so integral to the story. I couldn't see shooting this somewhere other than Cuba, and everyone told me it was impossible to shoot in Cuba. So it became a passion, so to speak, to get that permission from our government, and it was a two-year journey with the state department, the treasury department, for them to ultimately allow us to go there. And they initially turned us down."   

On Amanda Harvey's reaction to filming in Cuba:

Amanda Harvey: "I really didn't know what I was getting myself into, and I have always had the gung-ho attitude of, 'Yes, let's just go do it and we'll make it happen.' So it presented many challenges, even from the get-go, of even just communicating with the crew down in Cuba for pre- production. It's a challenge to talk to them and get things organized, and once we were down there, you leave a hotel and you have no internet. So you have no communication with the outside world.

Bob Yari: "In fact, she's being a little humble, but it was a massive challenge. I mean, there's no infrastructure down there, and I think if it wasn't for Amanda's tenacity, we wouldn't have gotten this done."

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.