Ernest Hemingway Biopic Becomes First U.S. Film To Shoot In Cuba In 50 Years

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May 8, 2014 | 4:09am EST

A new Ernest Hemingway biopic starring Giovanni Ribisi has become the first Hollywood full-length movie to be filmed in Cuba in nearly 50 years.
Filming on Papa began in March and director Bob Yari admits he is grateful he has been able to add authenticity to the movie by shooting important scenes, including a reenactment of a gun fight between Fidel Castro supporters and Fulgencio Batista allies outside of Havana’s Government Palace, in the country.
The movie, which is based on an autobiographical script by former Miami Herald journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, centers on the friendship between Hemingway and the reporter during Cuba’s political unrest in the 1950s.
Yari says, “It was an absolute passion to actually make it in Cuba, where everything that is in the script happened, where the finca (farm) is, where (Hemingway) lived, where his boat was, all the spots from the Morro castle to Cojimar where he fished. It’s all here, so trying to duplicate it somewhere else was not very appealing.
“Hemingway was probably the most prominent American to make Cuba his home, and I think the people of Cuba, to this day, cherish him and love him. And hopefully this film will become an addition to that component of bridging this gap between two cultures and two peoples that have drifted apart.”
Yari was allowed to film in Cuba under a Treasury Department license, which exempted the project from most embargo restrictions, which were placed on the Cuban government in 1960 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower after Fidel Castro came into power and turned the country into a communist nation.
In the film, Ribisi portrays Petitclerc, while Adrian Sparks plays Hemingway, who called Cuba home from 1939 to 1960 and wrote much of The Old Man and the Sea and other works there.