Tribeca 2012: Cuban actors materialize in Miami

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Two Cuban actors who went missing in Miami 10 days ago en route to the Tribeca Film Festival have surfaced, announcing they have indeed defected to the United States.

“Una Noche’s” Javier Nunez Florian and Anailin de la Rua de la Torre, both 20, made an appearance this weekend on America TeVe, a local Spanish-language station, saying that they were in good health and were seeking political asylum.

The Havana-raised actors, who are a couple, told Reuters that they began to think about leaving Cuba after a trip to the Berlin Film Festival this winter. They were staying with relatives of de la Torre’s in Miami and have hired a lawyer to help with their asylum claim.

The pair had gone missing from the Miami airport after arriving there on layover to New York with a producer and a third actor from the film, Dariel Arrechada. When the other two arrived in New York, they found that the checked luggage belonging to Florian and de la Torre was empty, suggesting a pre-meditated plan to defect.


Though athletes and actors have commonly defected from Cuba, the pair’s instance had attracted particular interest because their film casts them as a brother and sister who also seek to leave the island in a homemade raft.

Their situation became even more poignant Thursday night when the movie, directed by the young British director Lucy Mulloy, won three jury prizes at the festival, including a best actor kudo for Florian. The actor shared the honor with Arrechada.

Arrechada told the audience at an award ceremony that he missed his co-star and found it strange to accept the award without him present.

Earlier, Mulloy told 24 Frames she was surprised to learn of the pair’s disappearance. ‘They were excited to be actors in Cuba; I worked with them for months and had no idea they were thinking about this,’ she said.

More as it develops.


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--Steven Zeitchik