The History Of Capturing History For Voices From Cuba

Interview with Professor and Author Carlos Eire at Yale University. Photo by Teri K Miller

Interview with Professor and Author Carlos Eire at Yale University. Photo by Teri K Miller

When we first started working on Voices From Cuba nearly twenty years ago, Bill Clinton was president, people were dreading Y2K, and Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana - the remake of Candle in the Wind - was #1 in the Billboard 100. 

Things were particularly bad in Cuba then - a country still reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union and Russia’s withdrawal of support, mingled with the still ever-choking grip of the Castro regime. This “special period,” as it came to be known, left people hungry and desperate. They were leaving in droves by raft - some never making it across the Florida straits. 

The idea for Voices From Cuba came to me while working on a Steven Spielberg project called Survivors of the Shoah - where we helped capture the personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors. 

I knew there must be some incredible stories behind the journeys of the Cuban people I saw coming to my hometown of Miami, Florida when I was a kid. So I started asking the questions I never asked of my friends and family growing up. What were their lives like in Cuba, why did they leave, and how did they get here?

I had no idea what these Cuban exiles had gone through, and how varied their experiences had been. When you speak of Cuba to most people, their understanding extends to tourism, old cars, and the cult of Fidel and Che. There are plenty of films about these topics, but I couldn’t find any that really explored the Cuban exile experience from the points of view of those who lived it. 

Voices From Cuba would be that film.

Converting our interviews with the Black Magic Teranex Standards Converter

Converting our interviews with the Black Magic Teranex Standards Converter

We dug deeper, did tons of research, found more stories, and then starting interviewing these “voices from Cuba” on camera. Since then, we’ve shot nearly fifty hours of interviews, and gathered hundreds of archival clips originally shot in 16 or 35mm film. While we won’t be able to use all of these interviews in the final documentary, each has impacted our story.

Now as we're starting to finally put the finishing touches on Voices From Cuba, we’re faced with bringing all this footage up to the highest standards possible to be ready for delivery to the audience -  whether they are watching on theater screens, Netflix, Amazon, DVD, Blu-ray, or whatever else may come along. We want these important stories to shine.

This requires us to convert these older interviews to a higher resolution.

Our editor, David Emrich, is overseeing this up-conversion using a device called a Teranex Standards Converter, with his team at Post Modern in Denver. “Our plan is to bring the old standard definition footage all the way up to a 4K resolution, and then back to HD. At the same time, we’ll be cropping from a 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio. Our tests so far have delivered beautiful results.” 

You can see these results in our new trailer

With the recent death of Fidel Castro, tourism opening up more in Cuba, and US immigration policies in flux, there is no better time than now to share these stories and provide a better understanding of what went on during Castro's regime.

We're looking forward to bringing Voices From Cuba to audience everywhere.