Cuban Emigre, Red Sox Hero Tiant to Speak at 2011 Americas Forum

In the film, "The Lost Son of Havana," former major league baseball star Luis Tiant returns to Cuba, where he encounters unexpected demons and receives unexpected gifts from his family.

Former Boston Red Sox hero Luis Tiant will visit Wesleyan on April 7 to attend a screening of “Lost Son of Havana,” a 2009 film about the charismatic pitcher and Cuban émigré’s first return to his homeland in 46 years.

The screening and a subsequent discussion with Tiant and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock are part of the Center for the Americas’ 2011 Americas Forum, which will take place on campus April 7-8.

The forum, “Sports Documentary Filmmakers in the Americas: The Politics of Access,” also will feature a screening of “The Two Escobars,” a documentary by Jeffrey and Michael Zimbalist ’02 about drugs, power and soccer in Colombia.

The annual interdisciplinary forum addresses a topic of mutual interest to North and South or Central America, and reflects the center’s commitment to hemispheric studies. Last year’s forum was titled “Culture As Property: Owning and Othering in the Americas.”

All events are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Michael Zimbalist, a philosophy major at Wesleyan, will attend the screening of his film and talk about making it. Dana Brand, a professor of English at Hofstra University who has written extensively on baseball and fandom, will deliver a response to both films.

“Jonathan Hock and Michael Zimbalist not only show how the world of sport intersects with the social and the political, but also put in a new light the local, national, and hemispheric spaces in which the subjects of their films move in the course of their lives,” says Robert Conn, associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and director of the Center for the Americas.

The center is a joint initiative of the Latin American Studies and American Studies programs.

Born in Cuba in 1940, Luis Tiant was playing baseball in Mexico when Fidel Castro banned Cubans from traveling outside their country. Instead of returning to Cuba, Tiant came to the United States, where he eventually pitched all or part of 19 seasons in the Major Leagues. He played with several teams, but is most closely associated with the Red Sox. He was a star of the legendary 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds (won by the Reds, 4-3).

In 2007, Hock and a film crew accompanied Tiant on the former ballplayer’s first ever return to Cuba, capturing the inevitable heartbreak of the reunion. “Lost Son of Havana,” produced by the Farrelly brothers, was featured at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival in New York and subsequently broadcast on television by ESPN. Watch the theatrical trailer online here.

“The Two Escobars” tells a story of drugs, soccer and murder in Colombia, focusing on the drug lord Pablo Escobar and Andres Escobar, a member of the 1994 Columbian national soccer team who accidentally scored on his own team. Andres Escobar was murdered 10 days later. The film, part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and was also an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. It has been nominated for a Sports Emmy Award in the category of best documentary.

The screening of “Lost Son” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at the CFA Hall, with a public conversation to follow.

The screening of “The Two Escobars” is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 8 at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, with discussion to follow. Michael Zimbalist, Brand and Hock are all scheduled to participate.