90 Miles

PBS Premiere: July 29, 2003Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Statement

My dear friends,

Thank you for your interest. We all think we know enough about immigration. Some of us have lived it in the flesh and the rest of us are at least emotionally close to someone else who has. America was built by immigrants, for immigrants. It is a subject that has touched all of our lives.

The truth is that when I turned the camera on myself and on my family in 1994, I was not making a documentary. I was hoping to heal a wound with the only tool I was familiar with. The camera gave my family and me a license to ask questions as well as an excuse to respond. I suddenly found myself delving deep into the psychological impact that immigration has had on us, and I gained a whole new perspective on a subject I thought I knew so well.

Though 90 Miles takes its title from the measurable distance between the United States and Cuba, the journey I set out on soon exposed the more intangible and, at times, seemingly insurmountable distance that immigration has placed in our hearts. Sometimes, we may feel that situations beyond our control have victimized us. 90 Miles is intended to remind us that, even in such grim circumstances, we own an undeniable choice: to continue to react from the place of pain in our lives and live as a victim, or to take on the personal work necessary to become a survivor and focus on our accomplishments.

90 Miles has been eight years in the making and its impact on my personal life will continue for many years to come. It is my hope that you, who are reading this, will be able to use the film to start a dialogue on one or more of the issues that are raised in the film -- whether it is family relations, cultural identity, coming out, attempting to breach the gap between generations, living with a depressed parent or living at the center of political conflict.

I also hope that viewers who are new to the historical conflict between the United States and Cuba, those who think they understand it, as well as those who feel they have "had enough of it" will be surprised and touched by what they experience in the film.

Juan Carlos Zaldívar, Writer/Producer/Director