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Doctoral student’s documentary on Bay of Pigs to air on PBS and streaming services

Doctoral student’s documentary on Bay of Pigs to air on PBS and streaming services

The work of Eliecer Jiménez-Almeida has received critical acclaim, and now his film on the failed 1961 CIA-sponsored military operation to overthrow Fidel Castro will available to a national audience.

April 8, 2024 at 11:21am

Although it took place more than 60 years ago, Eliecer Jiménez-Almeida believes the Bay of Pigs invasion – the failed 1961 CIA-sponsored military operation to overthrow the Fidel Castro government in Cuba – is still highly relevant.

A filmmaker and Ph.D. student in the Department of Modern Languages at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs who received a master's degree in Spanish Journalism from FIU in 2022, Jiménez-Almeida made a documentary about the event, ”Veritas,” that will have its TV premiere on PBS April 15 and later stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and other major streaming services. The film was screened at the Miami Film Festival in 2022, where it received the Documentary Achievement Award. He also serves as co-director of the Cuban Diaspora Film Archive, a research, teaching and learning project located within the Department of Modern Languages. 

The story of the invasion is told through the memories of the members of Brigade 2506, the group of Cuban exiles that participated in the mission and felt abandoned by the U.S. government. Decades later they recount their personal tales of preparing for the investigation, facing defeat on the Cuban beaches, their prison ordeals, and eventual return to the U.S.

“This momentous episode of the Cold War era illuminates the intricate interplay of politics and diplomacy, providing valuable insights into the complexities that have shaped the geopolitical landscape of the region,” Jiménez-Almeida said.

Last year, Jiménez-Almeida’s film “Havana Stories,” which combined elements of documentary and fiction, premiered at the Miami Film Festival and was invited to compete for the prestigious annual Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award.

Originally from the countryside near Camagüey, Cuba, for the past 10 years Jiménez-Almeida has lived in Miami, where he has worked as a producer for Univisión and as a teacher. A prominent member of the Cuban filmmaking diaspora, he has been a visiting filmmaker at several universities, his films have been shown in many countries and his work has received multiple awards.

"Eliecer stands out as both a remarkable doctoral student and an acclaimed video artist,” said Santiago Juan-Navarro, professor of Hispanic Studies and Jiménez-Almeida’s faculty advisor and his dissertation director. “Eliecer is celebrated for his creative storytelling and significant contributions to experimental cinema, blending artistic innovation with scholarly excellence.”

FIU News asked Jiménez-Almeida about the film, its relevance and its availability to a mass audience.

img_1262-3b.jpgWhat led to you making “Veritas”? Of all the subjects in modern Cuban history, why did you decide to make a documentary about the invasion of the Bay of Pigs?

“Veritas” is a documentary that captures the voices of the members of Brigade 2506. It attempts to recover memory through the oral history of individuals relegated to oblivion. It is a gesture of poetic justice, a moral reminder for the future of Cubans.

My intrigue with Cuban history and its profound influence on contemporary global dynamics propelled me toward an in-depth examination of a seminal event that has left an indelible mark not only in Cuba but on the international stage as well. The selection of this incident (the Bay of Pigs invasion) was driven by a conviction that it represents a pivotal juncture in the annals of Cuban history and in the broader tapestry of international relations within the region.

What lessons can still be learned today by the event?

I believe the Bay of Pigs invasion offers valuable lessons that remain relevant today. It highlights the importance of understanding the complexity of international relations and how political decisions can have significant long-term consequences. Just like the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, guerrilla movements in Latin America or the Angolan War, to name a few of the most important actions of the Cuban regime to destabilize the free world.

What was your reaction to the news that it will be aired on PBS and be available on major streaming services?

It was an indescribable emotion. Seeing that the work and effort invested in "Veritas" will be shared with a wide audience through recognized platforms like PBS and streaming services is a significant achievement. It means that the story we wanted to tell will resonate with people from different parts of the world, which is rewarding as a creator.

Listen to a podcast featuring an interview with Eliecer Jiménez-Almeida.