Voices from Mariel isn’t a household name, at least not yet. The documentary film from NFocus Visual Communications tells the story of the Mariel Boatlift through the eyes of both those who left and those who stayed behind. This unique film was shot on location in Florida and in Cuba, giving two distinct perspectives to the story.
As a quick background, the Mariel Boatlift occurred in 1980. After weeks of increasingly desperate attempts by Cuban citizens to gain asylum and leave the country, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro decided to open the floodgates and let those who wanted to leave go unfettered. He didn’t count on the massive rush for freedom that followed. With over 100,000 asylum-seekers taking Castro up on his offer, the dictator was left with little choice but to let them go.
But he didn’t let them go easily. The government arranged for protestors to follow the would-be expatriates, administering frequent berating and occasional beating. As a final jab at the outside world, Castro mixed criminals and mental patients into the hoards of freedom-seekers as they made their way out of the country.
Heartwarming and touching, Voices From Mariel follows one of the Marielitos, Dr. Jose Garcia, as he returns to his home country for this first time in thirty years. There he reunites with friends and family who had been left behind. Through a series of interviews with Cubans on both sides of the boatlift, the viewer gets a real and deep insight into what this event meant to a people and a country.
If your only knowledge of the Mariel Boatlift is the movie Scarface (and let’s face it, that’s true for most of us) then you owe it to yourself to see this film and discover the true story behind this historic migration. Voices from Mariel is currently playing in very limited release. It will be released on DVD and BluRay sometime in the near future (no date available yet, but it can be pre-ordered on the website at www.voicesfrommariel.com).