The film shows us the life of a brother and sister and a friend, and their decision to risk all and build a homemade raft they plan to use to escape to Miami. The actors are all real Cubans – not professional actors – the homes and the street and neighborhoods you see are the real ones. The film shows the decay and despair of daily life, the horrid routines of Cubans trying to exist and eke out a living, and all of this gives lie to the propaganda which the new tourism bombards visitors with.
If you watch the film – and I hope you do – you will learn that Cuba still matters. Hopefully, the complacency of our people, and the belief that Cuba’s prison island is forever will disappear, and you will realize that the apologia of the media for the tyranny Fidel Castro created must and will end. We learn that the Cuban people have one way to cope — planning to escape. They knew too well that brave dissidents who began to have a following, like Oswaldo Payá, have been eliminated by the techniques taught by the old NKVD and later KGB beginning in Stalin’s Russia.
My only question is why the Cuban authorities allowed this film to be made in Cuba. Perhaps the filmmaker had an agreement that there would be no mention of Fidel or Raul Castro, no discussion of communism, no portrayal of political dissidents, and virtually no politics at all. If so, the filmmaker accepted a deal that paid off. We all know who controls Cuba, and how the Party’s control is cemented through the apparatus of State Security. What we do not know is how Cubans actually live, and by showing us that, Mulloy has broken through the barrier of the false view of Cuba perpetrated by the regime and the new pro regime tourism.