Cuba Freedom Flights the subject of new documentary

The Miami HeraldMay 28, 2009 

In a new documentary on the Cuban exile experience, a poet weighs over how her life and identity were shaped by the hand of a single man.

Amid her ruminations, she considers the what-if absence of Fidel Castro's rise to power 50 years ago.

"The revolution changed my life," Sandra Castillo says. "Had there been no Fidel, would there be a me, the me that I am?"

Castillo's question is one of many in My Suitcase Full of Hope: The Story of the Cuban Freedom Flights that aims to illuminate the heartache and loss among exiles — the Castro-christened "anti-revolutionaries" — who fled the island to Miami between 1965 to 1973 aboard what came to be known as "the Freedom Flights."

The exodus threw some 265,000 Cuban refugees into a place with alien language, culture and customs. The new refugees arrived 200 a day on two daily flights. Many were relocated but eventually migrated again to Miami.

Inspired by The Miami Herald's unveiling in December of a unique searchable database listing the passenger names compiled by reporters Luisa Yanez and Alfonso Chardy, filmmaker Joe Cardona sought to create a documentary that reflects what the Freedom Flights still mean to that uprooted generation.

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