A Revolutionary Evening With Soderbergh, Del Toro, 'Che' and Plenty of Angry Cubans

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So how do you beat the notoriously fiesty Cuban protesters in Vigilia Mambisa once they've set their sign-waving, bullhorn-screaming sights on your event?

If you're Steven Soderbergh, you just plain outlast 'em. Even Vigilia couldn't make it all the way through Soderbergh's epic "Che," a four-hour long beast about the favorite T-shirt icon of disenfranchised suburban teens everywhere.

Thumbnail image for che21.jpgAbout fifty angry protesters crowded behind police baracades outside Miami Beach's Byron Carlyle Theater before Soderberg and star Benicio del Toro premiered the film last night. Three hours later, during an intermission between Che's Cuban and Bolivian exploits, they were still lining 71st Street and still vigorously screaming. But by the time the show finally let out pushing 11:30 p.m., the streets were quiet and everyone left in peace.

"Obviously not everyone is glad we're here, but I'm glad we're all here tonight," Soderbergh joked before the screening.

More highlights from the long but entertaining evening after the jump.

-- Tim Elfrink

It's a pretty safe bet that everyone got what they wanted out of the screening. Soderbergh generated some -- cough, cough -- completely unexpected controversy. And Vigilia's riled up crowd got plenty of camera's pointed in their direction.

Every Spanish-language station in town came out to catch Benicio and a few other co-stars walk in the door and to give the sign-wavers a chance to loudly denounce them.

"It's an insult to our community that a film like this would premiere here," Abilio Leon, a 65-year-old Hialeah resident told Riptide. "The Jewish community would never allow any kind of film about Hitler like this to play here. It's the same for us. We'd rather just forget about the guy."

"Che is a liar! And a killer!" chimed in Jose Micrahi, 79.

The scene was definitely a bit milder inside the theater, where the audience plowed through a table of free candy and popcorn to stock up enough of a sugar buzz to last for five hours of jungle combat and revolutionary planning.

Even Soderbergh laughed about the length when he took the stage before the screening. He was joined by Del Torro -- in full Fred Fenster mode as he mumbled a quick hello to the crowd -- and a few other cast members, including Miami native Yul Vazquez.

"I promise, if you can make it all the way to the end of this thing, we'll make it worth your while," Soderbergh said.

As for the film itself, Riptide will leave the reviews to the professionals. But if you have an unusually healthy appetite for Latin American history, four hours kinda sorta flies by.

-- Tim Elfrink


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