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1. Havana Curveball [2014]

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An ordinary American teenager faces extraordinary challenges when he sets his heart on donating equipment to young Cuban baseball players-; an act of thanks to the country that gave his grandfather refuge during the Holocaust. Anticipating a curveball, his filmmaker parents take views on an intimate and deeply felt journey that shows just how complicated it is to "do good" in the world. Synopsis Mica is a classic young teen. Enthusiastic. Idealistic. Dreaming baseball. At 13, he is studying for his Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ritual. He takes to heart his Rabbi's requirement to help "heal the world." Imagining himself a savior of sorts, he launches a grand plan to send baseballs to less fortunate kids in Latin America. Narrowing his focus, he lights on Cuba, a country with a mysterious pull. He knows only that Cubans lack resources and love baseball like he does. Many of their star players have defected to play in the U.S. professional leagues. He also knows that Cuba gave his grandpa refuge during the Holocaust. At age seven Grandpa Herb fled Europe with his mother, when his own father was sent to Auschwitz. Boarding the first boat they found, they fled to Cuba. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, the US sealed its borders, waylaying their plans to join relatives in New York. Stranded in Cuba, they were lucky that theirs was not the fate of the infamous ship, the St. Louis, which had been forced back to Nazi Europe. Instead Cuba offered refuge, and Herb spent the early 1940s in Havana, while his Viennese playmates and his father were killed. Late in 1943, Herb and his mother were granted visas and found their way to New York. Nearly 70 years later, Mica feels a need to repay the debt. Enthusiastically collecting bats, mitts and balls, he never considers that his good intentions might not be enough. HAVANA CURVEBALL affords the unusual pleasure of observing a child growing up, both physically and psychically. As Mica shifts from high-pitched boy to broad-shouldered young man, he squares off against the complexity of the adult world. The simple act of giving, which drove his idealism at age 13, seems elusive at 14 and 15. Facing the obstacles the U.S. embargo throws in his way, he must decide how far to follow his dream. Researching, writing letters, imploring his senator, meeting Cuba activists and an attorney, trying to make sense of a high school history lecture and his grandpa's own resistance, he wonders if the whole enterprise is even possible, let alone worth it. After two years, he finally boards a plane to Havana with his family, 200 pounds of baseball gear, and all the rhetoric, expectations, and worries of family, friends, and history in tow. Imagining he is finally in the home stretch, his experience there is transformative, confronting him with the question, "does what I do matter?" "The viewer sees Cuba and Cuban-American relations through the lens of this sincere act of gratitude and quickly learns how a relentlessly punitive foreign policy trumps the good intentions of an ordinary citizen. This is an excellent film not only for classes on Cuba or U.S. Foreign Policy but also for anyone planning social action or community service." - Holly Ackerman, Ph.D., Latin American, Iberian and Latino/a Studies, Duke University Libraries "I will watch (and probably love) any film about religion, sports, and politics, and the way Havana Curveball brings those worlds together is completely satisfying. But the real joy of this film is getting to know Mica and following him on his journey to adulthood. You will be moved and inspired by this amazing young man, his love of family and baseball, and his passion to do something to make the world a better place." - Rebecca T. Alpert, Professor of Religion, Temple University "...scores in the subject areas of Judaica, sports, and Latin-American studies, this is recommended." - Video Librarian magazine Awards Best Documentary, Boston International Kids Film Festival 2014 Official Selection, Havana International Film Festival 2014 Official Selection, Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival 2014 Official Selection, Olympia International Film Festival 2014 Official Selection, Hamburg International Michel Film Festival 2014 Official Selection, Napa Valley Film Festival 2014 Official Selection, Global Peace Film Festival 2014 Youth Film Competition, Lucas International Children's Film Festival Special Jury Award, Olympia International Film Festival (Pyrgos, Greece) Best of 2014, School Library Journal Film Festivals BOSTON International Kids Film Festival - NOV 8, 2014 (Sneak Preview) BOSTON Jewish Film Festival - NOV 9, 2014 BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany Film Festival - NOV 8, 2014 BRUNSWICK, ME: CubaWeek 2015 -; MAR 29, 2015 CLEVELAND Int'l Film Festival - MAR 18-29, 2015 COOPERSTOWN Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival - SEP 19, 2014 DENVER BolderLife Film Festival - OCT 16, 2014 FRANKFURT LUCAS Children's Film- SEP 22-27, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS Jewish Film Festival HAMBURG FilmFest - SEP 29-OCT 3, 2014 HARTFORD Jewish Film Festival - MAR 8, 2015 HAVANA Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano - DEC 12, 2014 MANHATTAN Jewish Community Center - OCT 22, 2014 MARIN Jewish Community Center - MAR 3, 2015 MEMPHIS Jewish Film Festival MIAMI Jewish Film Festival - JAN 15-19, 2015 NAPA Valley Film Festival - NOV 11-16, 2014 NEW JERSEY Jewish Film Festival OAKLAND New Parkway - FEB 3, 2015 ORLANDO Global Peace Film Festival - SEP 20, 2014 PYRGOS, Greece Olympia International Film Festival - NOV 29 - DEC 6, 2014 SAN DIEGO Jewish Film Festival - FEB 10-12, 2015 SAN FRANCISCO Hot Stove Baseball Film Festival - FEB 6, 2015 SAN FRANCISO International Film Festival (Schools Program) - MAY 2014 SAN FRANCISCO Jewish Film Festival - AUG 3, 2014 SEATTLE Children's Film Festival - JAN 22-31, 2015 SEATTLE Jewish Film Festival - MAR 14-22, 2015 ST. HELENA, CA CAMEO FAMILY FILM FEST -; MAY 23-25, 2015 WASHINGTON, D.C. Jewish Community Center - OCT 14, 2014 WILMINGTON, NC.: Cucalorus Film Festival - NOV 12-17, 2014 Subject Areas: American Studies, Cuba Studies, Cultural Studies/Identity, Economics, History (US, Cuban, WWII), Holocaust Studies, Human Services (Non-Profit Leadership), International Studies/Relations, Jewish History/Studies, Latin American Studies, Leadership for Social Justice, Philosophy, Politics + International Affairs, Religion, Social Sciences, Social Studies, Sociology, Sports/Athletics (esp. Baseball), Child Development/Adolescence, Community Service, Art/Media Read filmmaker, Marcia Jarmel's, interview here.

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