You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Canada’s Pictou Twist, Picture Plant, Cuban Film Institute to Tell ‘The Cuban Five’ Story (EXCLUSIVE)

Canada’s Pictou Twist Pictures and Picture Plant have partnered with Cuban film institute ICAIC to co-produce the definitive account of the Cuban Five — Cuban intelligence agents arrested on spying charges by U.S. authorities in 1998.

Pictou Twist producer Barrie Dunn has penned the screenplay on “The Cuban Five” (“Los Cinco”), which is based on Stephen Kimber’s non-fiction book “What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of The Cuban Five.”

“What Lies” relates how in the 1990s, Fidel Castro’s government dispatched five Cuban intelligence agents to Florida to infiltrate exiled terrorist groups targeting civilians in Miami in a bid to destabilize Castro’s regime. Instead, they were arrested and sentenced to lengthy jail terms on charges of espionage in Miami. Ironically, the leading Cuban exile militant, Luis Posada, remained free.

Kimber came upon their story while visiting Havana in 2009. His four-year investigation led him to Washington, D.C., Miami and Havana; he also interviewed the Five while they were still in prison.

Pictou Twist and Picture Plant acquired the exclusive life story rights of the former agents from ICAIC in March 2015.

“We are delighted that we will bring this heroic story to the cinema in partnership with the Canadians. It has significance not only for Cuba but for the world,” said ICAIC president Ramón Samada.

Clement Virgo, whose directing credits include CBC miniseries “The Book of Negroes” and HBO’s “The Wire,” is attached to helm the film, which is slated to shoot mostly in Cuba by the spring of 2019. “We will likely have a second unit filming in Miami,” said Dunn, who is also looking at the possibility of shooting some scenes in Colombia. Casting will be under way soon among U.S., Latin American and Canadian talent for the English- and Spanish-language feature.

Virgo and producing partner Damon D’Oliveira of Conquering Lion Pictures have also signed on as co-producers.

“Having gotten to know The Five and members of their families,” said Picture Plant’s Terry Greenlaw, “I feel privileged to be part of the team that, in partnership with ICAIC, has been entrusted to tell this inspiring story of idealism and selflessness.”

The announcement comes just as the Cuban Five mark the 20 years since they were arrested on Sept. 12, 1998.

On that day, a heavily armed FBI SWAT team arrested Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, René Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, who were then tried and convicted in Miami. According to Kimber in an op-ed column for the Washington Post, they were “convicted on low-bar charges of ‘conspiracy to commit’ everything from espionage to murder and sentenced to impossibly long prison terms, including one double life sentence plus 15 years.”

[Rene] Gonzalez, the first out after serving 13 and a half years, said: “Receiving Stephen’s letters in prison back in 2010 was encouraging for us because we knew he would speak our truth, which we believe he has done through his book.

“We consider Stephen’s to be the best book about the Cuban Five. The Canadians have become our great friends and we can’t think of better partners to help share our story, through film, with the world,” he said.  Gonzalez now serves as a VP of the Cultural Society of Jose Marti, one of Cuba’s most prominent national heroes.

All five men are serving as consultants to the film.

Cuba credits Kimber’s book as a major factor in accelerating the release of the last three members of the Five. They were set free in December 2014, thanks to the pact between President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro to restore U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations.

Pictured above:  Bottom row left to right: Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernandez, René González

Top row left to right: Stephen Kimber, Barrie Dunn, Terry Greenlaw, Ramón Samada (President of ICAIC)

More Film

  • Bluebird review

    SXSW Film Review: ‘Bluebird’

    As affectionate as a love letter but as substantial as an infomercial, Brian Loschiavo’s “Bluebird” may be of most interest to casual and/or newly converted country music fans who have occasionally wondered about the songwriters behind the songs. There’s a better than even-money chance that anyone who’s a loyal and longtime aficionado of the musical [...]

  • ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending for the Fourth Week in a Row

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the fourth week in row with “Wonder Park.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.18 million through Sunday for 1,718 national [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan Jordan Vogt-Roberts

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan, Jordan Vogt-Roberts Team for Monster Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan is producing a creature feature, billiards champ Cisero Murphy is getting a movie, the sixth Terminator movie gets a title, and Graham King receives an honor. PROJECT UNVEILED New Regency and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society are partnering on an untitled monster movie from “Kong: Skull Island” [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Nicolas Cage to Star in Martial Arts Actioner 'Jiu Jitsu'

    Nicolas Cage will star in the martial arts actioner “Jiu Jitsu,” based on the comic book of the same name. The cast will also include Alain Moussi, who stars in the “Kickboxer” franchise. Dimitri Logothetis is producing with Martin Barab and directing from a script he wrote with Jim McGrath. Highland Film Group is handling [...]

  • Chinese success of Thai film "Bad

    Chinese, Thai Shingles Pact for Co-Production Fund at FilMart

    A deal to establish a 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) co-production fund between China and Thailand was struck at FilMart on Tuesday to help launch TV and film projects that will appeal to Chinese and Southeast Asian audience. The deal that was struck by China’s Poly Film Investment Co., TW Capital from Thailand and Thai [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Buddha in Africa

    More Than Half of Films at Hot Docs Film Festival Are Directed by Women

    More than half of the films playing at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, are directed by women, the Canadian event said Tuesday. The festival’s 26th edition, which runs April 25-May 5, will screen 234 films, with 54% of the directors being women. In the competitive International Spectrum program, notable films receiving their world [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content