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POV: Voices Of The Sea

The Garcia family portrait.
Courtesy of Kim Hopkins
The Garcia family portrait.

Airs Monday, Sept. 3, 2018 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Explore Contradictions of Love and Freedom in "Voices of the Sea"

Torn between finally fulfilling her dreams and caring for her husband and children, a young mother weighs the hope and promise of leaving Cuba against the heartbreaking pain of separation.

Ostensibly, this film is a love story about the love between husband and wife and the love of a man for his country.

“Voices Of The Sea,” a lyrical portrait of contemporary Cuban realities, gives an intimate, meditative glimpse of a family’s dynamic way of life.

Directed by Kim Hopkins, the film has its national broadcast and streaming debut on the PBS documentary series POV on Monday, Sept. 3, 2018.

The documentary artistically illustrates the many facets of family life in a rural, remote fishing village on the southern side of the island of Cuba.

Orlando (also known as Pita) is an aging fisherman with a passion for his craft. He loves his country and, determined to stay in Cuba, he ekes out a living and provides for his family.

Pita and Karel out fishing, Cuba.
Courtesy of Kim Hopkins
Pita and Karel out fishing, Cuba.

He understands and accepts his mortality and his place in this world with grace, wisdom and wit. His craft, and the characteristics that come with it, are integral to who he is: a patient, caring and determined man. His love for his wife, Mariela, and for Cuba infuses this emotional tale with longing.

Mariela loves her husband, too, but yearns for the opportunities emigration has to offer. She hears about the promise of life elsewhere firsthand from her brother Roilan.

After attempting the exhausting journey to the United States 21 times, Roilan finally makes it on a homemade boat. Mariela’s face lights up with excitement for him and his new life.

We later find out that Mariela’s first husband drowned while trying to escape Cuba on a raft. This kind of cautionary tale affects not just this particular family, but the entire population of the island.

Mariela’s love for Orlando and their family keeps her from attempting the journey herself; her desire to go is outweighed by the connection she and Orlando share.

Mariela is a compassionate mother who is constantly thinking of her children’s future. That thought is the driving force behind her desire to emigrate: “A better future for my kids... ‘What do you want to be?’ ‘Fisherman.’ They don’t know any different. They have no hopes for anything else.”

Orlando, however, is suspicious of the American dream and calls it “illusionary.” He is content with things the way they are, even though all around them family members and neighbors are fleeing.

Mesmerizing scenes of the nearby beachfront and the unhurried pace of life in town create a layered picturesque backdrop to the family drama and are juxtaposed with harrowing on-board raft footage.

“'Voices of the Sea' is a moving narrative of family life just 90 miles from American soil,” said Chris White, executive producer of POV. “It engages us with an empathetic portrait of the challenges facing everyday Cubans, while complicating the narrative that everyone wants to leave. We see this dichotomy in Mariela and Orlando, and Kim gracefully teases out the tension between them.”

Cuba native with the classic car hood up.
Courtesy of Kim Hopkins
Cuba native with the classic car hood up.


This film will stream online on in concurrence with its broadcast. Full episodes of POV are available to view on demand for a limited time after broadcast.


POV is on Facebook, Google +, and you can follow @povdocs on Twitter. #VoicesOfTheSeaPBS


A co-production of ITVS. Director is Kim Hopkins. Producers: Margareta Szabo, Kim Hopkins, Capella Fahoome. Editors: Leah Marino and Kim Hopkins. Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer. Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan and Chris White.