"The Trial" premieres in Hollywood
by Gloria La Riva
Dec. 7, 2007
Special to www.freethefive.org
HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 6 — With a sold-out theater at 7:30 pm and a second 9:30 pm show added, tonight's Hollywood premiere of The Trial: The Untold Story of the Cuban Five was a great success.
Danny Glover addresses the audience
Danny Glover took time from his busy filming schedule to open the premiere at the Laemmle's Sunset 5 Theater complex. There was great excitement among the theater-goers by his presence, and for his support for the Five.
Pacifica radio station KPFK was the media sponsor of tonight's film premiere; many people said they first heard of the film on the radio. Others had received notice from the ANSWER Coalition, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, the National Lawyers Guild and Office of the Americas. By the end of the evening, everyone signed up to be kept informed of the outcome of the Five's struggle. Many of them gave extra donations beyond the movie entrance, and asked how to get involved.
For the program before the movie, Carlos Alvarez, youth organizer for the ANSWER Coalition, presented the speakers. He told the audience that the film's director, Rolando Almirante, was chosen in a Cuban competition among filmmakers, and together with ICAIC, Cuba's film institute, and Telesur of Venezuela, "this important contribution to raising awareness of the Cuban Five's struggle has been made possible."
Peter Schey, immigration attorney and director of the Center for Human Rights, gave the background on the false murder-conspiracy conviction against Gerardo Hernandez, which is a major focus of The Trial. He said, "The murder-conspiracy conviction against Gerardo Hernandez is the most egregious part of the government's prosecution, the gravest miscarriage of justice, because I believe the US government knows that there was no plan to shoot down the BTTR planes down in international airspace. The government knows there was no conspiracy to do so, while telling the jury that there was such a conspiracy. We are hoping that through independent actions, such as the Freedom of Information Act request about the BTTR shootdown, we may be able to uncover evidence that the United States knew, at the time of the trial, that the conspiracy they were alleging to the jury in fact never existed at all.
Another extreme miscarriage of justice is the U.S. government not permitting Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva to visit Gerardo and Rene, for the past almost 10 years. We are undertaking to apply for new visas for them. Tonight's film is vital for our work, and I congratulate the filmmaker Rolando Almirante, and the Free the Five Committee for making it happen."
Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, said, "No political prisoner was ever freed without a political struggle, and the Cuban Five are political prisoners of the United States. We cannot rely on the legal fight alone. There is where every one of you comes in. As The Trial demonstrates, the Five won an unprecedented victory when the 3-judge panel granted them a new trial and overturned their convictions.
Gloria La Riva and Danny Glover in front of the theater
"While we await the new appeals decision, let us take advantage of every day to build support for the Five, to let the people know of their existence, to demand their freedom. We know that if the people of the United States knew of their mission fighting terrorism, they would call for the immediate liberation of the Five."
To sustained applause, Danny Glover spoke. "The constitution has been obliterated right in front of our eyes. We have to look at this struggle with the understanding and knowledge and wisdom that we have available to us. I don't mean within the legal framework. We will win justice for the Five when people get out into the streets, when people begin to mobilize to change this injustice.
"Who are the Five? Not only were they saving Cuban lives by opposing terrorism in Miami, they were in the service of all humanity. Three of the Cuban Five served in Angola against South Africa's invasion. If you know the role that the Cubans played against apartheid, you can appreciate how truly heroic the Five are. Cuba, through its history and internationalism, supported African and Latin American countries and countries all over the world, to enable the people in those countries to free themselves and decide their own destinies.
"This documentary is only a small part of my effort, my narration of the film is only part of my role and support for the Cuban Five. I ask you all tonight to get involved, to help in every way you can. Make a donation so this work can continue and grow. We need you to support the work of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Let's get these heroes home to Cuba!"
Glover then read a moving letter from the book, "Letters of Love and Hope," from Gerardo Hernandez to his wife Adriana Perez, whom the U.S. government refuses to issue an entry visa to so she can visit her husband. Hernandez is serving an unjust sentence of two life terms in Victorville federal prison, one hour from Los Angeles. Rene Gonzalez's wife Olga Salanueva has also been repeatedly denied an entry visa by Washington, as an extra punishment to the Five and their families.
Glover and Alvarez announced the launching of a billboard that will soon appear in Los Angeles that will demand, "Free the Cuban Five Now!" with the photographs of Gerardo, Ramon, Antonio, Fernando and Rene. Alvarez said, "Imagine hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles seeing this billboard for one whole month."
The Trial's premiere left an indelible mark among the people who attended, and a greater awareness in the community of Hollywood and the larger Los Angeles area. In the mobilizing for the premiere, tens of thousands of people were able to learn about the Five and The Trial through the mobilizing work of the sponsoring organizations, and media coverage in KPFK radio, the Pasadena Weekly, and the Los Angeles Weekly.
Pre-showing coverage from the Cuban News Agency and the Pasadena Weekly