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Cuba and the U.S. Embargo

Presents a balanced portrait of Cuban life today and a compelling argument for why the US should lift the devastating 60-year embargo.

A printer-friendly version of this page 87 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Mirella Martinelli
Produced by Mirella Martinelli, Elizabeth Coffman
Associate Producers: Bruce Glasberg, Deanie Bergbreiter
Editor/Writer: Mirella Martinelli
Cinematography: Miguel Coyula, Mirella Martinelli, Jake Smucker

"Riveting...provides a historical and contemporary context for understanding the sixty-year US embargo against Cuba." Philip Brenner, Emeritus, Intl Relations, American University
[Note: Community screenings of Frenemies can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Set to the pulsating beats of Afro-Caribbean music, FRENEMIES examines the fraught relationship between the island nation of Cuba and the United States. Blending 1950s archival footage with contemporary shots of Cuba's economic decay and vibrant culture, the film paints a vivid portrait of a nation fighting for survival against the world's longest-running embargo.

Presenting a critical perspective on both governments, FRENEMIES blends archival and contemporary footage, interweaving music with personal stories in a lively exposé of this blatant violation of international law.

The United Nations has voted almost thirty times for the embargo to be lifted. FRENEMIES presents a compelling argument to support this campaign.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2022     Copyright Date: 2020
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-81-X

"With stunning scenes of Cuba, Frenemies provides a historical and contemporary context for understanding the sixty-year US embargo against Cuba. This film combines a clear description of the US policy with vivid personal stories which make it riveting and appropriate for a broad audience and classrooms."
Philip Brenner, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, American University, Co-author, Cuba Libre: A 500-Year Quest for Independence

"Frenemies will help our students think about policy issues, especially international policy, in deeper ways."
Dr. Thereasa Abrams, Assistant Professor of Social Work, University of Tennessee Knoxville

"By juxtaposing our prejudices and our responsibility to historic facts and just society, while challenging our notions of ethics and borders, through this inspiring film the director and producer Mirella Martinelli is offering a mandatory educational tool, which presents an excellent starting point for several interesting classroom discussions."
Jasmina Bojic, Lecturer, Program in International Relations, Director, Camera As Witness Program, Stanford University

"While Cuba is a neighbor of the U.S., and the histories of our two countries are forever entangled, few people in the U.S have the opportunity to see the impacts of that history and of U.S. policy towards the average Cuban. Frenemies brings that history alive by giving voice to the Cuban people and allowing them to tell their stories. Combining that with the vibrant scenes and sounds of life in Cuba make this film a wonderful introduction to our neighbors, and to a broader discussion of the impacts of our policy on the people of Cuba."
Jorge Quintana, Executive Director, Center for Democracy in the Americas

"Frenemies is the best Cuban documentary made to date! It is not pro-Cuban Government. It gives clarity to the insanity of the US embargo toward Cuba. Regardless of your politics on US/Cuba relations you will enjoy this documentary film - the music, the scenery, the actors, the citizens on the street and the story line are magnificent and factual."
Albert A. Fox, Jr., President Founder and President, Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation

"I've just seen Mirella's fantastic film Frenemies and I am very very impressed!...It is a vivid evocation of the Cuba that I've experienced...and the insanity of the continued embargo. I am very much sympathetic with the point of view of Frenemies, the film, and hope it sees as wide an audience as possible."
Walter Murch, Academy Award winning editor and sound designer, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather

"Frenemies is more than a history lesson, an activist film, the denunciation of an inhumane economic blockade for decades. It is also a film about dialogue, which cultivates a white rose for the sincere friend, the cruel enemy, and the unsuspecting viewer, led right into an all-important conversation."
Erica M. Munhoz, Literary Scholar, Brazil

"Frenemies is a critically relevant film for our times. It brings a new and different voice to the narrative on Cuba. It inspires debate and passions among all Cubans. Frenemies can be an instrument of dialogue and restoration between close neighbors."
Teresita Angela Terga, Publisher, Writer, Producer

"A beautifully shot film that explores the complexities of contemporary Cuba and U.S.-Cuban relations through the eyes of U.S. visitors, expats living on the island, and young Cuban artists."
William LeoGrande, Professor of Government, American University, Co-author, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana

"Recommended...This film provides an interesting assessment of the embargo and a diversified perspective on Cuban-United States relations...Frenemies is recommended for individuals interested in Cuba and for use in courses such as economics, history, international relations/trade, political science, and Spanish language."
Erica Swenson Danowitz, Delaware County Community College, Educational Media Reviews Online

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
In English and Spanish, with optional English SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, scene selection

Awards and Festivals
Audience Award, Dunedin International Film Festival
Audience Award, Oregon International Film Festival
Award of Excellence, Docs Without Borders Film Festival
Social Impact Award, Latino & Native American Film Festival
Impact Award in Global Politics, The Most Important Films International Film Festival
Impact Award (Finalist), Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival
Award of Merit, Impact DOCS Awards
United Nations Association Film Festival
Ojai Film Festival
Orlando International Film Festival
Houston Latino Film Festival
Seattle Latino Film Festival
Oklahoma Latino Film Festival
Sunscreen Film Festival
LatinX Film Festival
Social and Economic Justice Film Festival

Central America/The Caribbean
Citizenship and Civics
Foreign Policy

Human Rights
International Studies
Political Science
Race and Racism
Social Work

Related Titles

Unfinished Spaces
Multi-layered story of Cuba's National Art Schools project, designed by three young artists in the wake of Castro's Revolution.

Cuba: The Accidental Revolution
Two-part series examining Cuba's enormous experiment in sustainable development in the face of an economic crisis brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The War on Democracy
John Pilger reports that, in spite of a history of repeated US-backed suppression, popular democratic movements are gaining ground in Latin America.

Argentina: Hope in Hard Times
The Argentine people, in the face of economic collapse, provide a hopeful example for the rest of us.

Argentina: Turning Around
An intimate view of new models of work, politics and community development in Argentina.

Virtual JFK
A filmic examination of "virtual history." What would Kennedy have done in Vietnam if he had lived and been re-elected in 1964?

Blind Trust
Celebrates the life and work of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Vamik Volkan, a psychiatrist who brings enemy groups together for dialogue in traumatized areas of the globe.

Who Shot My Brother?
As German Gutierrez searches for the gunmen who tried to kill his brother, he exposes the root causes of the violence in his native Colombia.

A Bold Peace
70 years ago Costa Rica abolished its army and committed itself to fostering a peaceful society. It has been reaping the benefits ever since.

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