For two and a half years Adelin Gasana has independently written, directed, and produced the film. It essentially documents the 50-year-story of the of the Cuban-American immigrant community that literally took over and conquered the Greater Miami region. The 96-minute film covers all the elements of the varying Cuban experience, including the more taboo topics such as race relations and discrimination among Cubans within the Cuban community itself.
Adelin Gasana: Well a little about me … I was born in Rwanda, Africa but came here when I was really young. I do not have one drop of Cuban blood flowing in me. In fact, I call myself an “Americanized African.” I have lived in South Florida for over 15 years, and have been putting documentary film projects together since my college days. I essentially work in the growing, influential avocation of “filmanthropy” which is a film genre and activist line of work that uses film, particularly documentary, to raise awareness and inspire consciousness raising for fundamental sociopolitical change throughout the world.
[Special Note: At this point we politely escorted Tony Montana out of the interview and brought in someone more … how you say? Articulate.]
AG: Living in South Florida for as long as I have, exposure to the Cuban immigrant phenomenon was and still is very apparent. So what started off as an interesting story to read, grew into a two-and-a-half year journey into the Cuban Diaspora where I have grown with fascination to the story of Cuban exiles/refugees/immigrants and their personal stories of assimilation into the United States. Literally, three months after college graduation I began my independent documentary film.
AG: With this film I have been to places I probably would’ve never step foot in, like Hialeah, Hispanic Clubs, salsa parties, Santeria gatherings and even a Cuban-style wedding with all its cultural traditions. Put it in another way — I didn’t have one close Cuban-American friend before I began this project. Now I can go through my phone and come up with over twenty good friends I have met and bonded with, but I must add — I cannot speak Spanish to save my life … lol.
AG: A fun statistic — the decade of the 2000′s was the decade to have brought the most Cubans out of the island into the United States than any other period in the 50-year-story of Cuban migration. More than the Freedom Flights, the Mariel Boat lift and the Balsero Rafter Crisis. That makes the Cuban-immigrant influence and connection to Miami a continuing story of immigrant generations assimilating for the next couple of years. In my opinion I believe Miami will continue to develop in its varied Caribbean and Latin American immigrant populations, but I think the Miami identity will still be a Cuban one for another decade or two.
AG: I choose flan over Tres Leche because flan doesn’t give me that spongy taste when I am digging into it to eat it!
AG: A classic Mojito with spearmint is the drink to have … which is hard to turn down!
AG: Cuba like any other multi-ethnic country located in the Western Hemisphere is not without the race and class division that has been used in history as a means of domination by European conquest and colonization. Cuba — like every Caribbean island — is a majority black country whereas Cubans and Cuban-Americans residing in Miami are predominantly white. However, racial classification that exists in Cuba is unlike the American system of racial classification. What I can mention is that the factors of race discussed in the documentary is the explanation as to the disproportion of black Cubans living in Miami in comparison to blacks living on the island. The reason there is a lack of black Cuban migration to Miami is because the “black Cuban-American experience” in assimilating in Miami, and the benefit and privilege of Cubans coming into a turbulent racial strife of 1960′s during the emerging Civil Rights Era predominantly led to a “white” group of immigrants.