By Tristan Davis – Features Editor
Tremont Street’s AMC Loews Theatre was home to a new lineup of movies earlier this month, hosting the 31st Annual Boston Film Festival.
The festival debuted several comedy, drama, biopics, and documentary-style films. Headlining the festival’s opening night was director Bob Yari’s “Papa,” a drama starring Giovanni Ribisi (“Ted,” “Saving Private Ryan”) and Minka Kelly (“Friday Night Lights,” “The Roommate”).
A crowd of roughly 150 moviegoers spilled in minutes before Yari’s introductory speech, where he shared the process of creating the first film shot in Cuba in 60 years. The film was shot exclusively in Cuba and is based on Ernest Hemingway’s (Adrian Sparks) last year living through the 1959 Revolution that ravaged the country for years.
Although unorthodox as far as film festival venues go, the Loews Theatre hosted wonderfully. The vintage-style building features three separate floors, all decorated with numerous “old-timey” movie posters covering the paisley-printed walls.
An NBC backdrop screen stood behind Yari, co-producer Amanda Harvey, and co-stars Shaun Toub and Sparks, as fans took pictures before the show.
The film tells the story of young writer Ed Myers (Ribisi), a talented employee of the “Miami Globe,” who scores the opportunity of a lifetime when his fan letter to Hemingway is read and responded to by the once-famed writer himself. He is then thrown into the dark, depressed mind of Hemingway, while simultaneously being caught up in a world of crime and marital unrest.
Based on the true story, Myers searches his entire life to find a family after being abandoned by his father at a young age and being raised in a Catholic orphanage. He finds solace in Hemingway’s short stories as a young sports journalist. When Hemingway contacts Myers, they become extremely close and form the father-son bond Myers never had.
Despite its intense storyline, the film itself was lackluster, loosely written, and rushed when it came to pivotal plot moments. The stars of the film failed to portray the deeply troubled characters inspired by real-life humans.
After the film concluded, the production team and a few cast members made themselves available for a question and answer panel, although the crowd quickly grew scarce.
“Rolling Stone” published an article in May, in which Yari said, “Hemingway was probably the most prominent American to make Cuba his home. 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.”