Favourites Film Festival Berlin showing “Havana Curveball”

The Favourites Film Festival is an audience festival, meaning that the films have previously inspired film festival audiences worldwide.  Simply put, the festival shows films awarded by an audience, selected for the audience.

There are no restrictions concerning genre or running time: fiction films, documentaries, animated films, shorts or features are all eligible. The festival organizers want to show films from as many countries as possible and especially focus on films from regions rarely to be seen on German screens. In finding these films, they collaborate with film festivals worldwide.

This year, the U.S. Embassy in Berlin supported the US documentary “Havana Curveball”, the story about Mica, a young teen at 13 who 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. He also knows that Cuba gave his grandpa refuge during the Holocaust. As “Havana Curveball” tracks his growth from high-pitched boy to broad-shouldered young man, the audience has an unusual opportunity: to witness in real time the coming of age project to understand one’s family history while navigating the gap between youthful ideals and the complex, messy reality of the adult world. This coming-of-age documentary combines baseball, a story of growth, and social justice education. As Mica begins to see the barriers to doing good, he never falters. His journey takes him and his parents all the way to Cuba, where the cost of the embargo becomes apparent. He realizes that while doing something good is not always easy or simple, it is always worthwhile.

The documentary touches on several important topics like growing up, social engagement, Jewish religion, the Holocaust, and globalization. Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider are not only the directors of the film and award-winning documentary film producers, but also the parents of the main actor, young Mica.