POV on PBS explores the shadowy nexus of pro sports and the migrant trail in the Cuban baseball documentary film The Last Out, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sami Khan (St. Louis Superman) and Michael Gassert. The documentary will make its national broadcast premiere on Monday, October 3, 2022, and available to stream free until November 2, 2022 at pbs.org, and the PBS Video app.
Set amidst the migrant trail and the dark side of professional sports, The Last Out tells the inspiring story of Happy Oliveros, Carlos O. González, and Víctor Baró, three Cuban baseball players who risk exile to train in Central America as they chase their dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. Filmed over more than four years, the vérité documentary focuses on people caught between countries who want nothing more than to make a better life for their families, and chronicles their harrowing journey, from immigration obstacles to the broken promises of dubious agents. Against all odds, these young athletes try to hold onto their hope while confronting the dark realities of what it takes to succeed.
Scouting for Cuban players is quite different than in the U.S. or Dominican Republic because of the U.S. blockade of the island. Although each franchise maintains the stats of every player in the Cuban pro league, scouts are not able to engage directly with players unless they defect from Cuba. In the Dominican Republic, players are often recruited as young as 12-13 years old and signed at age 16. By contrast, Cubans are usually recruited in their late teens or early 20s and have to be signed in other countries such as Costa Rica.
The Last Out is an eye-opening film that offers a poignant behind the scenes view of one America’s favorite sports. The documentary becomes an unusual migration tale that sheds a light on the commodification of Cuban baseball players for American entertainment.
“Through the lens of a sports movie, The Last Out explores how the exploitative market for Cuban baseball players reflects the painful legacy of colonialism and slavery in Latin America,” said Gassert, Khan, and Miller. “These are difficult issues that Major League Baseball shies away from so as filmmakers we’re immensely grateful for the incredible support from POV and PBS. We’re honored to work with Erika, Chris, the team at American Documentary, Latino Public Broadcasting, and PBS to bring The Last Out to audiences in Spanish and English with accessibility for all.”
Winner of a Special Jury Mention at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, The Last Out also won the Audience Award at the Hot Springs Documentary Festival, the Grand Jury Prize at the Florida Film Festival, and the Best Documentary Award at the Buffalo Film Festival, among others.
Watch a clip from The Last Out.