Borscht Filmmakers Stage Fidel Castro's Death at Versailles

Categories: Film and TV
photo by Jonathan David Kane
Director Laimir Fano
Yesterday morning at Versailles, despite both the hideously scorching early heat and the impending threat of rain, a small crowd gathered to celebrate a momentous event. A ragtag band of revelers from across the Cuban-American diaspora showed up festooned with feather boas, Cuban flags, and, of course, the requisite cookware and metal spoons for maximum noise levels.

Even I, who showed up intending to cover the affair as an impartial journalist, got swept up in the action, fiercely banging a cazuela in an angry old woman's face. Fidel was dead! Someone yelled. We whooped and cheered as tourists gawked.

Then, the director yelled cut.

For better or for worse, Fidel Castro was not, in fact dead -- the size of the celebrating crowd, numbering around a whopping 15, should have been a dead giveaway. Rather, the occasion was a shoot for young, Cuban-born, now U.S.-based director Laimir Fano's film Waiting for Berta, the latest production by the young local film boosters of the Borscht Corp.

Fano first entered the Borscht radar around 2009, when his Cuban film school project, Oda a la Piña, won a special jury mention at the Tribeca Film Festival. Fano defected to the U.S. soon afterwards, when a story in El Nuevo Herald detailed his wish to make this new film.

"We reached out to him, but we didn't have the resources yet," recalled Lucas Leyva, Borscht's "minister of the interior." That changed in the past couple of years as Borscht won grants from the Knight Foundation and other organizations, allowing them to create a new visiting filmmaker program, among others.

The inspiration for Waiting for Berta, Fano said on set, was his initial impression of Miami when he first arrived here after defecting. "My first impression when I started living here two and a half years ago was that it's a crazy city where everything can happen," he says. "It's a place where people often run into each other again."

Meant as a largely wordless short, the film's plot centers on one of these encounters, and requires one of the most ambitious Borscht productions to date. The black comedy follows vengeful, wheelchair-bound Adela. She's played by 87-year-old Magali Boix, who the crew plucked, at the 11th hour before the shoot, from an assisted living facility on the recommendation of a friend of a friend. During an otherwise ordinary trip to Sedano's, she encounters Berta, now a Versailles waitress but once a sworn rival in Cuba.

The completed film will feature everything from a slow-speed chase down Calle Ocho, incited by a murderous, wheelchair-bound octogenarian piloting a smoke-spewing Buick Century. That chase then ends at Versailles, exquisitely timed with the sudden death of Fidel Castro, and the ensuing spontaneous celebration.

Location Info

Versailles Restaurant

3555 SW 8th St., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

this is so lame. all fun and games but nobody is really doing anything about the problem. ps. fidel has been out of the picture for a looong time now so whether he dies or not the damage is done and it still continues. theres nothing to celebrate or pretend. 

David Alonso
David Alonso

Jesse, please come to my part of town and say that. You people really need to stop and think about what the real reason for banging pots and pans. It started as woman in cuba protested not being able to cook (the government gave out ratios of food). As an American/Cuban I find the jobs, the pans, the laughter of this man idiot and plain pathetic! I wonder what the hero's that fought against Fidel would say to you.

Charles Milian
Charles Milian

You mean I have to return my "Fidel is Dead Party Hats" I just picked up from Party City?

Jesse Nevel
Jesse Nevel



Still thinking about that fabulous blowjob @MiamiNewTimes - come by @bazaarmiami anytime!

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