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The Women In White

Production year: 2009 | 1*46 | Genres: Current Affairs
The Face of the Last Cuban Opposition
Origin country: United States
Production company: Zwart Arbeid AS
Original title: Kvinner I Hvitt
Original language: English
Formats: HD

In 2009, Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution celebrates its 50th anniversary. Since Castro came to power in 1959, he has lead his country with an iron fist, developing an infamous system of informants and secret police to quiet the voices critical of his oppressive regime. In March 2003, Castro ordered the biggest crackdown in recent history. While the world’s attention was on the US invasion of Iraq, Castro arrested 75 men – journalists, writers and human rights activists considered to be the last Cuban opposition – during three nights now known as “Black Spring”. Two weeks after the arrests, in April 2003, the men’s wives, mothers, daughters and sisters gathered to pray for their loved ones, and there “Las Damas De Blanco” – or “The Women In White” was formed. Every Sunday since then, the women have dressed in white and silently walked the streets of Havana.

They campaign through all available means for the release of their men. The continued efforts and bravery of the women resulted in 5 prisoners being released in 2005 – the same year they received the prestigious Sakharov Peace Price awarded by the European Parliament. A total of 20 men have been released due to the efforts of the Women in White and the diplomacy of the Spanish Government.  
The Women In White are now the face of Cuba’s opposition – symbolizing the hope of human rights and freedom of speech in Cuba. Thus they are an increasing dilemma for the government, which conducts intense surveillance of the women.
This 46 minute long television documentary will tell the story of the Women In White – their fight to free their men and the effect it has had on their own lives.
We will reconstruct the nights of “Black Spring” and tell the story of the men who were arrested, and hear the government’s argument as to why they were imprisoned.
This documentary will explore both the macro and micro story of the fight for freedom of speech under 50 years of Castro’s control. Through the stories the women tell us, we will hear what it was like and is like to live under the regime. 
Before the crackdown the men and women were fervently pro Castro, most of them actually held government positions including, Ambassadors, Financial Advisors, Doctors, and as Journalists for government sanctioned newspapers. When they started voicing their opinions, they lost their jobs and were defined as enemies.
Archive footage will aid in illustrating the history of Castro’s Cuba. Interviews with representatives from the following will put the Women In White and their story in a broad international and historic context:

 “Amnesty International”, “Doctors Without Borders”, “Journalists Without Borders”, “The Sakharov Committee”, the Spanish government (one of very few governments which has taken an active role in the dissidents’ cases), and various other experts on Cuba and human rights.
The documentary will also go into the current political situation and look to the future. The production has been given exclusive rights to reveal news about Cuba’s political future.
As the 50th anniversary of Castro’s Cuba approaches, we aim to shine a light on the last opposition.
The Norwegian award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker, Gry Winther, first heard about the Women In White in 2004 and was fascinated by their story. After researching their case, she decided this was something she needed to share with the world.  
Winther and producer, Veslemoey Zwart, took on the personal risk by traveling to Cuba to shoot this historic documentary. Together, Winther and cameraman Halgrim Haug, secretly filmed, met with and interviewed the women who live under the regime’s constant surveillance.
They secured interviews with four of the women and one of the men temporarily released from prison. Together, Winther, Zwart and Haug also secured film of the women’s silent Sunday march. The crew was followed and questioned about their activities, but made it safely back to the US with all the footage. 
Writer/Director/Producer - Gry Winther: Gry Winther is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and independent documentary filmmaker who has covered international news and current affairs for 17 years. She moved to the US in January 2004, and is now a political correspondent registered with the US Foreign Press Centre working as a correspondent-stringer for Norwegian television (TV2), radio (P4) and newspapers (Aftenposten). She got an exclusive sit down with “Bush’s brain,” Karl Rove, at the White House in 2005, and interviewed Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the same year. She has also interviewed Nobel Price winner Shirin Ebadi, and met with previous Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Khatami.
Among her documentaries are a portrait of Eva Joly – the Judge who lead the largest financial investigation ever conducted in Europe revealing the biggest corruption scandal in France at leading French oil company ELF (NRK 2000); a documentary about the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen (a production which included interviews with Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Abu Mazen (Mahmood Abbas)) (TV2 2002), and a documentary about the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on his bid for re-election in 2001 (NRK) (Winther was given exclusive access to follow the Prime Minister for three months). 
Producer - Veslemoey Zwart: Veslemoey Ruud Zwart is one of Norway’s most experienced female producers. She is founder and CEO of Zwart Arbeid and Motion Blur Inc. operating in Norway and Los Angeles. Veslemoey’s Producing credits include: One Night at Mc Cool’s (2000), Agent Cody Banks (2002), Lange Flate Ballær (2006), Lange Flate Ballær 2 (2008) and numerous international, award-winning commercials.
Veslemoey has worked with international actors including Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Steve Martin, Jeremy Irons, John Cleese, Matt Dillon, Liv Tyler, Hilary Duff and Peter Stormare.
Veslemoey was educated in Law, Political Science and Criminology, at the University of Oslo.
Director of Photography - Hallgrim Haug: Hallgrim Haug is a young up-and-coming Director of Photography who has made his mark as one of the most talented in Norway. He was the Director of Photography for TV2’s internationally acclaimed “The Long Walk of Inspiration” documentary about Paul Coelho.
Narrator – Andy Garcia: The Cuban, Oscar Nominated Actor and Producer Andy Garcia, whose movies include “Godfather III” and “Ocean’s Eleven”, will be reading narration for the international release.
Production Company – Zwart Arbeid AS: Zwart Arbeid is a Norwegian production company known for the successful film franchise “Lang Flate Ballær” 1 and 2. “Lange Flate Ballær 2” were two of the highest grossing Norwegian Movies.
Production:    Autumn 2008
Delivery:         January 2009

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