Seasonal residents Peter and Bobby Farrelley are famously fanatical Red Sox fans, so it’s no surprise their names appear as executive producers on the film The Lost Son of Havana, about legendary Sox pitcher Luis Tiant, the folk-hero hurler with a 19-year career in the majors, most memorably at Fenway. Tonight the film has its Island debut at 8 p.m. at the Chilmark Community Center, with Q& A with some of the filmmakers after the screening.
The film turns on Tiant’s first journey back to Cuba, the country he never meant to leave, at least not forever. To get him back into his homeland, the Farrelleys, along with the entire film crew, had to play a ball game against real Cuban players. But the laughs from that dissolve into a magically woven story of big league baseball, of Luis’ family — his father, Lefty Tiant, himself a Negro League star, once struck out Babe Ruth — and of millions of others who have found themselves exiled from their homeland. As Tiant is about to return to Cuba at 67, another refugee warns him, “Even if you don’t want to cry, tears will come out of your eyes.”
Directed by Jonathan Hock, produced by Kris Meyer, this 102-minute documentary explains how Luis Tiant left at age 20 for a trip he thought would last a month and became nearly a half-century. The filmmakers describe it this way: “Is it still home? What is home for an exile who becomes a star in his new land, leaving former teammates to play in isolation and poverty? A film about one man’s search for identity, Lost Son is also a great document of 20th-century history — the Cuban and Cuban-American experience, the black American experience, a brilliant baseball career, and the tangled family story that binds it all together.”