The Documentary Celebrating Life in Union directed by Gladys Bensimon and narrated by actor Andy Garcia is a story of the resilience and brotherhood of a group of former Cuban political prisoners from the Second Escambray Movement in the 1960’s. They were 17, 18 and 19-year old boys who fought alongside Fidel Castro against dictator Fulgencio Batista in Cuba only to later fight against Castro after he decided not to call for elections which caused the resignation of Huber Matos, the third highest-ranking officer of the Fidel Castro revolution. Celebrating Life in Union is now available in Amazon.com - http://tinyurl.com/cwc47rh
Celebrating Life in Union which was also nominated as “most inspirational” by Doc Miami International Film Festival, juxtaposes these former prisoners’ stories with the stories of their families who tried desperately to maintain in contact with and prayed for their survival in a tumultuous Cuba. The film also interweaves stories told by prisoners from various prisons, about the physical and mental abuse they endured during their 10, 20 and even 30 years in prison. “These men were young and passionate when they initially joined Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba to overthrow Batista,” said Bensimon. “They were students, teachers, farmers, and businessmen who sacrificed everything they had to change the course of Cuba for the better only to be betrayed by Castro. Many men from the Second Escambray Movement paid with their lives and many more with their freedom and sanity to try to restore Cuba to freedom. The documentary features the life and tragedies of Aldo Chaviano, Aurelio Candelaria, Aniceto Cuesta, Angel Alfonso and Jose Gutierrez.
Producer/Director Gladys Bensimon and Co-producer Drew Oberholtzer learned that a group of these former prisoners, now in their 70s, was living and gathering weekly in Union City, New Jersey to recount their tragedies and to celebrate life. Bensimon and Oberholtzer, having recently completed an award-winning film documenting the legacy of dictators in Latin America (Crossing Our Borders, 2010), became curious to learn more about the prisoners’ experiences. The two began attending the weekly meetings, and quickly discovered that their stories must be told. The team faced the enormous challenge of winning the trust of these men who were reluctant to talk to outsiders. For a period of two years Bensimon and Oberholtzer attended their meetings, joined in both the sad and the joyful events, and developed a friendship with these men and their families. Together, the filmmakers and the community helped gather the information needed to produce this inspirational documentary and have their stories told.
Knowing that Actor Andy Garcia has been a spokesperson for Cubans’ human rights, Bensimon contacted him about being the “voice” of the Cubans’ stories by narrating the film. Garcia enthusiastically accepted. The city of Union City, New Jersey is holding a celebration with Garcia as a guest of honor for his contribution to this project.
For more information http://celebratinglifeinunion.com/Celebrating_Life_In_Union/Home.html