'Una Noche' director supports defecting Cuban actors
“Una Noche’s” Javier Nunez Florian and Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre, both 20, made an appearance this weekend on America TeVe, a Miami Spanish-language station, saying that they were in good health and that they were seeking political asylum.
On Sunday morning in New York, a third Cuban actor in the film, Dariel Arrechada, and the picture's British director, Lucy Mulloy, said they were gratified to learn of the pair's safety. "We were just relieved that they were OK," Mulloy said. "I spoke to them on the phone and told them it was an important decision and I was going to support them in whatever they wanted to do [here]."
The pair, who are a couple and are staying with relatives of De la Torre’s in Miami, have hired a lawyer to help with their asylum claim. They have not said whether they'll continue to pursue acting careers in the U.S.
The two had gone missing from the Miami airport after arriving there on a layover to the New York festival with a producer and Arrechada.
Mulloy said that she and Arrechada had learned of the actors' emergence Friday shortly after the defectors went on television to make their announcement. Mulloy spoke with them from an unidentified Miami hotel and they seemed, the director said, "a little bit shaken."
Arrechada said he was still coping with the news. "It was strange to be here [at Tribeca] without them, but I was really happy to talk to them," he said. "It seemed like they had made the decision really easily, and that surprised me a little."
He added that he did not think about defecting himself. "I have family and a lot of friends at home. I love the Cuban culture, and the heat." He was set to return to Havana this week but was seeking to extend his New York stay by a few days.
Though athletes and actors have commonly defected from Cuba, the pair’s actions had particularly attracted interest because their film has them starring as a brother and sister who also seek to leave the island, in the movie's case via a homemade raft.
Their situation became even more poignant Thursday night when the movie won three jury prizes, including a best actor kudo for Florian. The actor shared the honor with Arrechada, whose character in the film also seeks to escape the island.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Javier Nunez Florian and Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre are seen in the film "Una Noche." Credit: Trevor Forest and Shlomo Godder/2012 Tribeca Film Festival