The Lost Son of Havana documents Luis Tiant‘s return trip to Cuba after 46 years of exile. Luis was a baseball player who in 1961 was playing in Mexico when the Bay of Pigs and the counter-revolution happened. Castro gave an ultimatum to all Cubans playing baseball in North America: come back to Cuba and play amateur baseball or don’t come home at all. Luis left his family behind and stayed in America, determined to play in the major leagues, unlike his father, “Lefty” Tiant who had pitched brilliantly in the Negro Leagues in the 30’s before returning home to Cuba.
Luis tried to return to Cuba on numerous occasions, but wasn’t able to until 2007.
So yeah, there’s baseball, but it’s used to build Luis’s character and the history of his family. The bulk of the movie is spent in Cuba, following Luis to his old neighborhood, and him greeting long-lost friends and family members.
The reunions (both familial and cultural) are complicated, full of joy but also recrimination and regret. The movie is compelling and moving without being melodramatic. I can’t recommend this movie enough.
An older family friend kinda sums it all up with on teary line: “Oh God, life is so big.”