Deadline is exclusively reporting that James Franco, Mia Maestro, Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez are set to star opposite Ana Villafañe in Alina of Cuba, a film about Fidel Castro’s daughter and anti-communism activist, Alina Fernandez.
Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde is based on the true story of Alina Fernandez, a Cuban-American immigrant and human rights advocate whose birth was the result of a passionate love affair between Fidel Castro and Natalia ‘Naty’ Revuelta. Revuelta, a Cuban-born socialite, sacrificed her and her physician husband’s personal belongings and finances to help fund the revolution.
The report states that James Franco will be playing the role of Fidel Castro, while Mia Maestro will be playing the role of Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, the Cuban-born socialite he has a passionate love affair with. The report doesn’t state what roles Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez will have in the film.
Alina Fernandez learned of her connection to Fidel Castro at the age of ten, when after years of secret visits to her home, she was finally told that ‘El Comandante’ was her biological father. Alina and her mother stayed in Cuba after the former’s stepfather and her sister fled to the U.S after his medical clinic was shut down. Alina eventually become one of Castro’s most outspoken critics. She was arrested on more than one occasion for trying to leave and classified as a dissident forbidden to travel outside of Cuba. She defected to Spain in 1993 and later moved permanently to Miami.
John Martinez O’Felan, the project’s lead creative producer, released a statement saying:
Since the inception of the film, our focus has been to produce an artistic piece of modern Hispanic history, with the vision for the project as being truly inclusive through uniting actors and creatives from both intergenerational and recent Latin roots from the U.S, Latin America, and the world. That said, casting Ana and Mia were no-brainers because, besides the trajectory of their past work, one represents modern Cuban-America and the other Argentina. After watching Ana’s reel and auditioning her, it became evident she was perfectly suited and had a great voice to carry the material, and Mia’s work in the past with Jose spoke for itself and screamed writer/actress reunion.
Talking about James Franco’s casting, O’Felan said:
Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe, because our director’s original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro to build from, along with finding someone Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse. To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure. In executing a close search into our hopefuls through the eye of Spanish and Portuguese genealogy which the Galicians held, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial likeness of our Industry’s leading actors, meaning that the focus would be to build out his character accent and we’d have a stunning on-screen match to intrigue audiences and bring the story to life with true visual integrity. Altogether, working with such a supportive and exciting cast has been a true blessing to our team and project.
The film, formerly known as Castro’s Daughter, is written by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, with Miguel Bardem attached to direct. The film is produced by John Martinez O’Felan, Joe Lamy, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler, and executive produced by Allen Gilmer of Redbud Studios. The film will be shot on location in and around Cartagena and Bogota in Colombia next week.