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Film Update

Juan Carlos Zaldívar fills us in on what's happening in his life and with his family, and speaks about the reaction of audiences to the film.

  • July 29, 2003

90 Miles - Juan Carlos at MarielWow, so much has happened...

My aunt Lilia, at 71, decided to come to the United States to be reunited with my mom. She spent Christmas here in the U.S. two years ago. I have video of the two of them in Miami.

My sister got her wish and gave birth to a baby boy, Nicolas, in 2001.

The film played in my hometown, Holguín, Cuba, to a sold out house.

My father has not stopped working on the house. It has a fenced yard, a new roof and windows and a brand new kitchen that is making my mother very happy (and the rest of us who eat her cooking).


90 Miles - Juan Carlos's father,Pachuco Zaldívar My father also quit his job two weeks ago! He is spending quality time with the grandchildren. I gave him a nice watercolor set and nice watercolor paper for his birthday, which he will open when he's ready.


This last year and a half has been an amazing learning curve for me. Traveling with the film to over 40 festivals and community screenings and showing it to many different interest groups has been the force that has propelled me to continue to promote the film and my public discussion programs.

Some of the highlights include a tearful Q & A in Cuba, winning the Black Coral Award for Best Documentary in Cuba, a passionate discussion of generational differences in our attitudes towards Cuba in Miami, and the audience breaking into applause at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival when I come out to my father on camera and he accepts my news in stride. A sold-out show at Lincoln Center during our New York premiere at the International Human Rights Watch Festival in 2001 was also followed by a fervent discussion attended by many Cuban media makers. The effects of that screening continue to echo in the Cuban and Cuban American zeitgeist today and are just now opening doors for me to go on the Cuban radio stations here in Miami.

One of the most poignant moments for me came from a Peter Pan woman, who, after becoming a fervent anti-Castro activist, was shunned by her peers when she finally located her family and decided to return to Cuba to meet them. She explained very eloquently how the political divide alienated her and she found it almost impossible to reconcile her ideals with her personal emotional pain, but was finally made aware of that fundamental crisis within her. In Cuba, she found resistance because of the anti-Castro work that she had done, but she said, with watery eyes, that once she got to her family and they closed the door behind them, everything was fine. Where she had been and what she had done meant nothing, compared to the peace she felt able to share with her long-lost family. And the family didn't care either. She thanked me for making the film and for being honest about this issue. This testament was one of the highlights of the work I have been doing with "90 Miles." It confirmed my belief that if we are aware of where our reactions come from, we can take on the world and our causes in a humane way, aware of our impact in the world, responsibly. And we can begin to heal and help others to heal.

— Juan Carlos Zaldívar





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