DISSIDENT: OSWALDO PAYÁ
AND THE VARELA PROJECT was shot in August 2002 in Havana, Cuba.
The film is a rare look at the life and challenges of Cuban dissident
Oswaldo Payá and his groundbreaking Varela Project, the Cuban
civic movement that calls for a national referendum on democratic
reforms. Payá, who, along with his small group of activists,
has been threatened, followed and harassed since the project picked
up speed one year ago, has vowed to persist until the Cuban people
are granted a referendum, which is guaranteed by the Cuban constitution.
The story of Payá and the Varela Project is told through
an intimate interview with Mr. Payá, at his home in Havana,
never-before-seen footage from his personal archives, vérité
scenes with Payá and his activists as they plan for a massive
petition drive and moving conversations with Cubans who dared to
sign the petition.
The film was first shown in Payá's absence on September 30,
2002 to a group of 800 Latin American leaders and US Congresspeople
in Washington, DC. It has also been shown on Capitol Hill and in
front of the Spanish Parliament and the European Community. The
film made its big screen debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in New
York City and continues to show at human rights events around the
In April 2003 the Cuban government cracked down on the country's
dissidents, resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of over 75
innocent people, including several of the people who appeared in
this film. Payá, who remains under surveillance but out of
jail, has vowed to continue to press for democratic reforms in Cuba.