The extraordinary true story of a Kiwi couple – journalist Helen Smyth and Tim Rose, of Havana Coffee Works – who went to Cuba and accidentally befriended one of Fidel Castro's top spies.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
Which is more treacherous: to betray your government or to lie to your friends, family and colleagues for more than 40 years? In 2000, journalist Helen Smyth travelled to Cuba with her husband Tim Rose, the coffee entrepreneur behind Wellington's Havana Coffee Works. They took their three children, then aged five, nine and 11, who were allowed by the Cuban government to attend school. On a bus one evening, Smyth befriended 80-year-old Nestor Baguer, a charismatic Cuban and leader in the dissident journalism movement. Baguer wanted to write his memoirs; Smyth decided to help him. Rose filmed their encounters as the old man told his life story, including his imprisonment for dissent. Baguer is funny, a little cranky and politically incorrect by Western standards, but a compelling and warm human being with an extraordinary tale to tell. After returning to New Zealand, Smyth and Rose kept in touch with their friend, but reading a story in The Guardian one day were shocked to discover that there was a dark side to the "Cuban grandfather" they thought they knew so well. — Bianca Zander