“Una Noche,” a Bilingual tale of Havana, Opens (a little) in Theaters

Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre and Javier Núñez Florián

Una Noche, the first feature-length effort from new director Lucy Molloy, is a tale of family, courage, and politics. It made its mark with nominations or wins at more than a dozen film festivals this year and last, especially Tribeca, where Molloy won Best New Narrative Director. And maybe it’s a sign of the times that for all that attention, Una Noche will open Friday, August 23 in exactly three theaters, and a week later will move to VOD and iTunes.

The plot is simple: “Accused of assault, Raul is forced to flee Havana. He relies on his best friend Elio to help him escape to Miami. Elio is conflicted over protecting his sister’s welfare and his own desire to get out. One stressful night, the duo-face the biggest challenge of their lives, involving 90 miles of treacherous ocean.” Within that fairly familiar framework, Molloy has made a film that the New York Times said, “surges with vitality so palpable that you feel as if you were living in the skins of the characters,” and that Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald says, “thrums with the vibrant energy of restless youth taking their fates into their own hands.”

Una Noche is one of the growing number of films that could be seen as ‘bilingual.’ It slides easily and frequently from Spanish to English, with both languages subtitles so viewers who are comfortable in either (or both) language can enjoy it in depth. It’s a technique that’s become popular on mun2, and we see in another film releasing next week, Instructions Not Included, starring Mexican TV/film star Eugenio Derbez. It’s also a film that, for all its success on the film festival circuit, couldn’t (or didn’t try to) put together an extensive theatrical release. Instead, it’s making a token appearance on a very few screens, and appearing almost immediately in Video on Demand and on iTunes, where it may, in fact, be accessible to far more potential viewers than a scattered “art-house” release…assuming the word gets out.

Here’s the trailer for this well-received and remarkable little film–a real “American Latino” artifact highlighting one of the many aspects of Cuban-American life in the twenty-first century.