Balseros is a 2002 Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 documentary co-directed by Carlos Bosch and Josep Maria Domènech about Cubans leaving during the Período Especial
Special Period
The Special Period in Time of Peace in Cuba was an extended period of economic crisis that began in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the Comecon. The economic depression of the Special Period was at its most severe in the early-to-mid 1990s before slightly declining...

 after the financial support of the former USSR stopped. This resulted in so much poverty that in 1994, 37,191 Cubans left, unimpeded by the Cuban government, using anything they could find or build to get to the nearest land, Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 in the USA. This even included hijacking a ferry, but most left with improvised rafts, which were often not quite seaworthy. In the intro, Carles Bosch claims that these were not political but economic refugees.

The documentary consists largely of interviews with the rafters ("Balseros"), and traces over the course of seven years the lives of seven of those refugees, from the building of their rafts to their attempts at building new lives in America, giving insight in daily life in Cuba in those years (including some beautiful cinematography and sometimes amusing moments) and in the USA.

The documentary is 2 hours long. The first half is filmed in Cuba, with in the end some scenes of the rafters' months long detention in Guantanamo Bay
Guantanamo Bay detainment camp
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a detainment and interrogation facility of the United States located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The facility was established in 2002 by the Bush Administration to hold detainees from the war in Afghanistan and later Iraq...

, where lotteries were used to decide who would be allowed to go to the US. All the while, their families didn't know about their whereabouts. The last hour is about the lives of those who managed to get to the USA, how they are distributed over the country. These people were filmed again five years later, showing their difficulties adapting to a new type of society and the resulting homesickness, a "human adventure of people who are shipwrecked between two worlds".


  • Best Foreign Documentary and Memory Documentary Award at the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, Havana, 2002
  • Best Documentary in Spanish Language at the Ajijic Festival Internacional de Cine, Mexico, 2002
  • Winner of the IDA Awards (International Documentary Association
    International Documentary Association
    International Documentary Association , founded in 1982, is a non-profit organization promoting documentary film, video and new media, to support the efforts of documentary filmmaking and video production makers around the world and to increase public appreciation and demand for the art of the...

    ), 2003
  • Nominated for an Academy award. 2004
  • Winner of the Peabody Awards, 2004
  • Winner of an Emmy for Cinematography by Josep Maria Domènech (Best Photography), 2005
  • Nominated for Best Documentary, Goya awards
    Goya Awards
    The Goya Awards, known in Spanish as los Premios Goya, are Spain's main national film awards, considered by many in Spain, and internationally, to be the Spanish equivalent of the American Academy Awards....

    . 2003


  • Produced by: Bausan Films & TVC
  • Directors: Carlos Bosch & Josep Mª Domènech
  • Scripts: David Trueba & Carlos Bosch
  • Director de fotografía: Josep Mª Domènech
  • Producer: Loris Omedes
  • Executive Producer: Mª José Solera
  • Executive Producer TVC: Tom Roca
  • Director of Production: Tono Folguera
  • Production Manager: Richard Schweid
  • Music : Lucrecia
  • Sound: Juan Sánchez "Cuti"
  • Editing: Ernest Blasi
  • Graphics: Philip Stanton
  • Language: Spanish & English
  • Budget: 770.000 €


External links

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