The upcoming movie Alina of Cuba has been creating a stir and grabbing lots of attention lately. It has been officially announced by Alina Fernández, that James Franco will take the role of former revolutionary, politician, and president of Cuba, Fidel Castro.
Although Fidel Castro’s daughter vehemently criticised her father in real life, she is supporting him onscreen. Alina Fernández has made it clear to Deadline that she supports James Franco’s casting as her father, a revolutionary leader of Cuba, in the upcoming film Alina of Cuba.
She is also proud that “the project is almost entirely Latino, both in front and behind the camera.” But we can all guess what “almost entirely” means! Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde has been making waves with the casting of James Franco as Fidel Castro for multiple reasons.
The main reason is that Castro was very much a Cuban man while Franco is … NOT! You might be thinking that this is just a movie, and it always happens in cinema where different actors play different roles of other nationalities, so where is the problem?
Let me tell you…
The 127 Hours Oscar-nominated actor of Portuguese heritage, James Franco, is back on screen after he agreed to pay US$ 2.2 million to two of his former students who sued him over alleged sexual misconduct. So, it is not only about nationality, obviously.
Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde is one of the first new acting roles for Franco along with the coming-of-age movie Me, You. So on top of the fact that Franco is not Cuban, he’s also been accused of sexual misconduct and paid out for it, so I suppose that means he is completely off the hook and can now simply return to acting?
Well, just because he is taking the role, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the cast, or the world, is happy about it!
Despite Fernández being seemingly fine with Franco’s casting, saying: “To me, the most important thing about this movie is that the conversation about Cuba is alive. Personally, the experience is so far too unexpected but more than anything, humbling,” her statement comes following that of Primetime Emmy winner and The Menu actor John Leguizamo expressing his protestation to Franco’s casting as Castro on social media:
“How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? No more appropriation of Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F’d up! Plus a seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandisement which would be wrong! I don’t have a problem with Franco but he ain’t Latino!”
Alina of Cuba producer John Martinez O’Felan fired back at Leguizamo saying, “I want to point out that his odd comments, if you base them on genealogy, are a blind attack and lack any factual substance”.
In a follow-up video, Leguizamo elaborated on his earlier complaint and cited other wrongs committed by Hollywood, including the fact that it frequently casts non-Latinos in Latino parts, caps the number of Latino actors in a film, and appropriates their stories.
To make it short…
By the end of the day, with or against, the decision has been done, Franco would play Castro, Villafañe as Fernández and Mía Maestro as her mother Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, the Cuban-born socialite who El Comandante has a passionate love affair with. The film, which is being directed by Miguel Bardem and written by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz and Oscar-nominated writer Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries), tells the true story of Cuban exile-turned-social activist Fernandez, whose birth was the product of Revuelta and Castro’s tryst.
Since Franco is not Cuban, there are sexual misconduct claims against him, and the movie’s main focus appears to be Villafae’s portrayal of Fernández, this casting is generally a triple whammy. It isn’t simply another “ugh just a frustrating hype to be a trend” moment, but rather a reflection on how infuriating the Hollywood system still is as the casting of Franco is overshadowing the movie as a whole and prompting people to want to boycott it.