YOANI — The Film — Seeks Activists / Backers via Kickstarter

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How far will one woman go to live in a free Cuba? She’s been kidnapped, threatened, beaten, lives under surveillance in Cuba for expressing her opinion, and can only get online (in disguise) at tourist hotspots.

Among the world’s most influential voices in social media, Yoani Sánchez uses her blog, Generación Y which averages over 15 million monthly views and is translated into 17 languages, to inform the world about the oppressive conditions that Cubans endure on a daily basis.  Despite censorship in Cuba, she is able to publish the blog by e-mailing its entries to friends outside the country who then post them online.
Yoani Sánchez at MDC’s Freedom Tower
On April 1st of this year, Sánchez spoke at MDC’s Freedom Tower in downtown Miami (where thousands of Cubans fleeing the 1959 communist revolution were once processed, given food and connected with social services).  This was the most anticipated stop on an international tour that took her to three continents after being allowed to leave Cuba for the first time in nearly a decade.

She has often asked herself why so many people in the world see Cubans inside and outside the island as two separate worlds, two irreconcilable worlds.  She said, in Miami, before a room filled with exiles, “I want to make sure that no one, ever again, can divide us between one type of Cuban (of Fidel) or another (of Miami).” 

Before she left the Freedom Tower, she was bestowed with keys to the city of Miami, likely the only Cuban still living on the island to receive such an honor.  And in a display of the unity that she spoke about, people in the audience commented how it seemed to be the first time they could recall where Cubans from so many different generations, who had arrived at different times, and had different opinions on the embargo were all under one roof, applauding the same hopeful, captivating words.

Sánchez is a mother, a revolutionary citizen who fights for freedom and the basic right to live as a free citizen in Cuba.   Her courageous words and her commitment to human rights and freedom of speech have generated an avalanche of worldwide support.  
Time magazine listed her as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2008, stating that “under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot; freedom of speech”. In November 2009, President Barack Obama, wrote that her blog “provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba” and applauded her efforts to “empower fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology.”
Los Angeles-based Open View Productions is currently seeking backers via a Kickstarter campaign in order to make a film, Yoani, about her life a reality.  The project will only be funded if at least $108,000 is pledged by Friday, June 28 at 1:58 a.m. EDT Yoani is not just a film; it’s a movement to create awareness and help bring powerful social transformation. Producers plan to use the film as a vehicle to reinforce a universal message: Regardless of where we are born, we all have basic rights as citizens of the world.  — Tatyana Chiocchetti

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Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.