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Documentary On HBO Provides A Look Into The Miranda Family

NOEL KING, HOST:

In a new documentary, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of "Hamilton," pays tribute to his father, Luis Miranda, who's a well-connected political consultant in New York City. It airs on HBO tonight. NPR's Mandalit del Barco talked to both Mirandas at Sundance, where the movie premiered. And this piece is an encore.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: The documentary is called "Siempre, Luis" - always, Luis - Miranda's signoff in letters to his son, Lin-Manuel. In the film, the elder Miranda talks about moving from Puerto Rico to New York City in 1971. There, he spent four decades as a political consultant for the likes of Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "SIEMPRE, LUIS")

CHUCK SCHUMER: And you knew as a political leader when Luis asked for something, people were going to listen.

HILLARY CLINTON: You have been going nonstop for so long, Luis. I mean, really.

DEL BARCO: Miranda started off organizing parents in the Heights, New York's Washington Heights.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "SIEMPRE, LUIS")

LUIS MIRANDA: Trying to gain consciousness of an immigrant population that was totally disenfranchised.

DEL BARCO: Miranda was special adviser on Hispanic affairs for New York Mayor Ed Koch before founding the nonprofit Hispanic Federation.

JOHN JAMES: Just found so many aspects of his life cinematic.

DEL BARCO: First-time filmmaker John James began trailing his friend Luis Miranda with a camera three years ago.

JAMES: He makes his name in politics, but he quickly transitions into entertainment because he's the family guy, and he wants to support his son. He wants to make sure his son succeeds.

DEL BARCO: "Siempre, Luis" charts the tireless Miranda guiding his son Lin-Manuel's career. After winning a Tony Award for his Broadway show "In The Heights," Lin-Manuel explains that his next show, "Hamilton," reminded him of his father, Luis.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: (Singing) ...This kid is insane, man.

When I was playing him, I was just playing my father.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: (Rapping) ...Send him to the mainland. Get your education, don't forget from whence you came, and the world is going to know your name. What's your name, man?

(Singing) Alexander Hamilton.

DEL BARCO: After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, the Mirandas helped relief efforts by bringing Hamilton to the island.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "SIEMPRE, LUIS")

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: You're a great dad, and you're a great man. Go save Puerto Rico.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Aye, aye. Go and save Puerto Rico.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: Bye.

LUIS MIRANDA: Bye.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Break a leg.

DEL BARCO: Actress and filmmaker Eva Longoria says she hopes the documentary inspires other community leaders to be discovered.

EVA LONGORIA: He really is an unsung hero, doing things behind the scenes. And Luis would've made a difference in the world with or without having Lin-Manuel. But I'm glad he did produce such an amazing son (laughter).

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: It's cool to ride shotgun for my dad, honestly.

DEL BARCO: On the red carpet of the world premiere, Lin-Manuel says his father's political activism informed his own art.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: My dad has spent his life helping other people and pushing causes he believes in and people he believes in into the spotlight. And so it's nice to have my dad in the spotlight. He really enjoys it. You know, my dad's never wanted to run for office. And he's been approached several times, and he always says, well, I always want to be able to say whatever I want, and you can't do that if you're in politics.

DEL BARCO: Luis Miranda did take the opportunity on the red carpet at Sundance.

LUIS MIRANDA: I hope that when people leave the theater, they ask themselves, am I doing enough to get rid of Trump? Am I doing enough to make sure that my family moves forward, that my kids are doing their best?

DEL BARCO: Standing next to his son, the 65-year-old Miranda said all the attention was new to him.

LUIS MIRANDA: It's a narcissistic dream.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: Told you.

DEL BARCO: After the premiere, Luis Miranda and his son, Lin-Manuel, went on to celebrate with their entire family at the Latinx House, a hub for filmmakers and film lovers. Side by side, the two Mirandas salsa danced the night away. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.