Ah, bar mitzvas, when a young man’s thoughts turn to adulthood, Jewish tradition… and the US trade embargo against Cuba.
Well, usually not that last one. But America’s relationship with the Caribbean nation indeed provides the backdrop for an upcoming documentary, currently in the works in the US. The film, whose makers are now seeking donations online, tells the true story of Mica Jarmel-Schneider, a San Francisco student who learns about the embargo, which earlier this year turned 50, via a community-service project inspired by his passage into Jewish adulthood.
A devoted sports fan, Jarmel-Schneider was motivated by his bar mitzva to send baseball equipment to Cuba, which had given refuge to his grandfather during the Holocaust. The project runs into trouble — or is “thrown a curve ball,” according to publicity materials — when he discovers that US policy forbids shipment of the gear to the communist country.
The unusual service project led in turn to the even more unusual documentary, which currently bears the unfortunate title “Got Balz?” In addition to a six-person squad of professional filmmakers, Jarmel-Schneider and his family have enlisted a publicity team (which notified us about the effort) and an accountant. They’ve just kicked off a $40,000 fundraising effort, which they hope will help pay for editing and distribution.