ABOUT VOICES FROM CUBA

CubanRaftatSea

Twelve-year old Lizbet Martinez steps onto the rickety raft her father fashioned from inner tubes, rope and scrap lumber. She clutches a small bag of clothes, some medicine, and a tattered violin - her only remaining possessions.

Three swimmers push them through the battering waves towards the open sea. One pleads to join them. He would make the thirteenth person crowded onto this eight foot craft, but they can't leave him behind. Together they paddle through the night, but the progress is painfully slow.

By morning the outline of Havana has just begun to finally fade. As Lizbet turns towards the black ocean, she thinks of the sharks and the storms and the journey that faces her, and wonders if she'll ever see Cuba again...


While this is a new and terrifying experience for her, Lizbet and her raft mates are following a well-worn path - a journey that began on New Year's Day 1959. It was on that morning that Havana awoke to the rapidly spreading rumors that Fidel Castro and his band of bearded revolutionaries had defeated Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Castro would soon emerge as Cuba's new leader, and life would never be the same for her six million citizens.

Under Castro's watch, the Cuban people endured one of the greatest social upheavals in the Western Hemisphere. He instituted revolutionary reforms so radical and pervasive that little by little he managed to alienate members of nearly every sector of the Cuban population - from the wealthy land and business owners, to the professional class, to the blue-collar laborers, and finally the poor. Eventually hundreds of thousands of Cubans left Cuba, most ending up in the United States.

Today the number of Cubans in the United States is over a million, and the exodus continues. It remains one of the most complex, and yet least explored, migrations in modern American history.

While only ninety miles of water separate the two countries, a vast sea of political differences have ripped families apart, altered history forever, and continues to make the headlines today.

Voices From Cuba is documentary film that explores this unique migration through the eyes of the people who lived it. We follow the incredible stories of a diverse group of Cuban exiles - from their lives in Cuba and their decisions to leave, through their harrowing journeys to the United States. We meet artists, students, writers, fighters, and dancers - young and old, black and white, rich and poor. We hear from those who came in the sixties and ache for a Cuba of yesteryear, and those who came in the nineties and recount life in Castro's Cuba.

Their stories interweave a fascinating historic tapestry spanning half a century - from the roots of Castro's revolution, through the Cold War, and into the present day headlines. They wind through the major immigration waves that have made up this exodus - Post Revolution (1959-1962), The Freedom Flights (1965-1973), the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, and the Rafter Crisis of the 1990's.

While history will frame our stories, we view these events from entirely different perspectives than a typical historical documentary. Many films about Cuba highlight the exploits of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, or the political roller coaster of US-Cuban relations. Voices From Cuba is about the Cuban people, how they were impacted by these events, and how they in turn impacted history. This approach enables us to reveal fascinating details never explored before. For example, we look at the Bay of Pigs invasion from multiple angles - a little boy in Havana awoken by the invader’s bombings, a family picked up in their home by Castro’s militia and hauled off to the city’s stadium with thousands of others, and a soldier who fought nearly to his death in an attempt to liberate his people.

Voices From Cuba examines an immigration that has forever changed the shape and texture of both Cuba and the United States. But it's also a telling portrait of a people trapped in a kind of limbo - floating in a sea between the two countries they love. The United States has become their home, but Cuba will always be their homeland.

Today, since Fidel Castro's death, the big question of what will become of Cuba? looms like a freighter in the Cuban-American community. Some dream of returning to a free Cuba someday. Other say they'll stay in the United States, where they've raised families and lived most of their lives. But as this documentary reveals, all of them agree that the events of the last fifty years have marked them and their descendants for generations to come.


NARRATED BY ANDY GARCIA
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOM MILLER
EDITED BY DAVID EMRICH

PRODUCED BY BIG PICTURES MEDIA
VIEW TRAILER