Mariel Documentary Wins Second Straight International Award
In making "Voices from Mariel," Garcia and a production crew from Lakeland-based NFocus Pictures, including FSC graduate Jesse Larson, made the potentially dangerous voyage to Cuba, secretly filming interviews and a joyous reunion between Garcia and his childhood best friend.
LAKELAND, Fla. (June 16, 2011) -- Voices From Mariel, a one-of-a-kind documentary film produced locally by NFocus Pictures and featuring Florida Southern College professor Dr. Jose Garcia, won Jury Award for Best Caribbean Film at the Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF). The award, recognizing excellence in Caribbean cinema, was presented during a ceremony held June 13 in Aruba.
This is Mariel's second straight festival win, having earned the coveted Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at the Gasparilla International Film Festival this past March.
More about Mariel…In 1980, Cuban leader Fidel Castro permitted his people to board boats at the Port of Mariel to come to the United States. Nearly 125,000 Cuban citizens, from April to September of that year, crowded barely seaworthy boats in search of a better life in America. Dr. Garcia and his parents were among those who made it. He was 13 years old. He is now the Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies and Modern Languages Chair at Florida Southern College.
Garcia's desire to rediscover his Cuban heritage was the impetus for Voices From Mariel.
In the film, Garcia and the NFocus team conduct numerous interviews with other Mariel survivors willing to share their stories. They also return to Cuba to document Garcia's experiences as he reconnects with loved ones still living in Cuba today.
According to the film's producers, the project involved great planning and risk and is believed to be a one-of-a-kind look at the lives of Mariel's Cuban-Americans 30 years later. It also provides a recent and rare glimpse into the lives of people who still live in Cuba today.