Havana after WWII was the playground of the West: Booze, drugs, casinos, high society and lowlifes...
Empire of Havana is an hour-long serial drama that is intended as a limited run series, telling the story of a specific place in a specific period: that place is Havana, Cuba, and that time is the decades after World War II when Havana was the playground of the West, rife with booze, drugs, casinos, high society and lowlifes. In many ways, it was a holdover and last gasp of an era that has become part of our modern mythology: the 1930s, the time of gangsters, names we all recognize -- Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and most importantly for our story, Meyer Lansky, the man dubbed “The Mob’s Financier.” That world had already been left behind in the United States, as society was being transformed by the massive social and psychological impact of the war, but like a lost world, that era held on just a little bit longer in Havana. Change was coming here, too, though they didn’t realize it, and that change, in the form of Castro’s revolution, marks the end of the Empire of Havana.
Power – the search for it, the desperate clinging to it – is at the root of the Empire of Havana. Empires are built on statecraft, negotiation, trickery, and yes, violence, and this empire is no different. Empire of Havana explores the nature of power – who wields it, who wants it – but in doing so it explores both the “localized” power of individuals, the Mob bosses like Lansky and their ability to impose their will on people, as well as the larger and ultimately more far-reaching social power, the power of governments, and movements, of revolutions. While Meyer Lansky sought to carve out an empire for himself in Cuba, he ultimately failed to understand the larger forces at work around him; he was building a house of straw in the path of an approaching hurricane.
At times a political drama, a character study, and a thriller full of unexpected turns, betrayals and bursts of violence, Empire of Havana is all the more compelling because it really happened. Filled with real historical figures, drawing on actual events, Empire of Havana has two secret weapons: the true life story Jaime Casielles, a street hustler who rose to become driver and confidante of the legendary Meyer Lansky, and whose autobiography forms the basis of our story and contains never before known information and insights into the workings of the Mafia during this period; and through a unique collaboration with Cuban state media, Empire of Havana will be filmed in the locations and locales that the story actually took place.
Based on the book by Enrique Cirules “El Imperio de la Habana"