When the Brava Theater opened its doors at 6pm on Saturday April 16th, there was a long line of people waiting to purchase their tickets to watch the new documentary by Saul Landau. The theater, situated in the heart of the Mission district, has a capacity of exactly 356 seats and each single one of them was taken. The premiere of the documentary “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up!” brought people from all over the San Francisco Bay Area.
Coincidently, the screening took place on the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Bay of Pigs when the CIA sent a force of Cuban exiles to over-throw the Cuban Government. The invasion was defeated, but 50 years later this new documentary shows that US-backed violence against Cuba has continued unabated for decades. The film includes interviews with infamous anti-Cuban exiles such as Luis Posada-Carriles and Orlando Bosch, as well as recently filmed cameos of Fidel Castro and Danny Glover. It also features fascinating archival footage of Cuba and a rare recorded interview from prison with Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban 5. These men are serving long sentences in US prisons for trying to stop terrorism against tourist sites in their country.
Thousands of postcards and flyers were distributed at local activities in the weeks before the event, and a local radio station played a public service announcement with information about the event. In addition, the message was circulated through a number of web pages, distribution lists and social networks. Even before the event, many around the Bay Area learned about the documentary through interviews on a number of radio stations and a local paper. For the first time ever, the Univision local TV station did an interview about the film and advertised the event. El Tecolote, a local newspaper did an interview with Saul Landau which was published on Wednesday April 6 (MEDIA COVERAGE)
The program started with music from the Cuban Cowboys, whose style is a mixture of tradition and revolt music. The half hour of entertainment by this powerful band was enthusiastically received by the theater crowd. One of the songs, “El Danzón de Noventa Millas” was written by the director of the group, Jorge Navarro, specifically for the documentary, “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up!”
Alicia Jrapko, from the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, welcomed the audience and thanked Saul Landau for his great contribution with the making of this documentary. She said, “For all of us involved in the struggle to free the Cuban 5, the documentary will be an important tool to explain the reasons why these five men came to the United States.”
Amongst the people in the audience were Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond who has been very supportive of the case, John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, Tony Gonzalez, Director of the American Indian Movement West, and Dr James Cockcroft, historian and author. Some of the radio hosts who previewed the documentary and were outraged to learn about the continued US acts of aggressions against Cuba were also in attendance.
After an hour and twenty minutes of this riveting film, the lights came on and Danny Glover, the beloved actor and activist, took the stage to resounding applause. He gave an inspiring and philosophical speech about how the empire is destroying the planet and is on the verge of collapsing. A particularly moving moment of his talk was when he mentioned that he had the honor to visit Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban 5, with Saul Landau on three occasions. He described Gerardo as an example of what it is to be human in the highest sense of that word. After Glover, Saul Landau responded to a number of questions from the audience. People were made aware that just a few days ago, Luis Posada-Carriles, a man responsible for a series of terrorist actions against Cuba, was recently acquitted by a jury in El Paso, Texas.
Responding to one of the questions from the audience, Landau mentioned the hypocrisy of the US war on terror:…”the terrorists are free while the anti-terrorists are locked up”. The event ended with an informal reception, where people had a chance to visit the literature tables and sign up to receive updated information about the Cuban 5.
Between the radio interviews, the publicity, and the event itself, a great number of people in the San Francisco Bay Area were able to hear, watch and learn the reasons why the Cuban 5 had to leave behind their homeland and their families to protect their country against terrorism.
The event was organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.