TRANSIT HAVANA – New Heroes of the Cuban Revolution

Once a year, two plastic surgeons from Holland and Belgium fly to Havana to perform surgery on five Cuban transgender persons. The surgeons are invited by Mariela Castro, daughter of the president and head of the new state program for transgender care. Castro organizes this as a modern completion of the socialist revolution of 1959 because, in her words, it is all about emancipation and self-realization. ‚Homophobia no, socialismo si!‘ is the official slogan. The state helps transgender people with therapy, hormones, surgery and a new identity. Is Cuba changing into a safe haven for trans people? For more than one year, filmmakers Daniel Abma and Alex Bakker follow the three main characters Odette, Juani and Malú and show how they deal with the reality of being transgender in Cuba. As new heroes of the revolution they still face religious intolerance, discrimination, sexism, poverty and often a life in prostitution. Meanwhile they wait for the foreign surgeons to give them what they want most in life. Are their names among the five on this year‘s surgery list? The documentary features the historic day when presidents Castro and Obama suddenly announce new diplomatic relations, creating great expectations among the main characters. TRANSIT HAVANA – New Heroes of the Cuban Revolution gives us a unique insight into the paradoxes of Cuba, showing a surprising side of an island in transition.

Malu Caño Valladeres
Odette Diógenes Domínquez Rodríquez
Juany Santos Peréz
Mariela Castro Espín
Stan Monstrey
Marlon Buncamper


Director: Daniel Abma
Script: Alex Bakker
Camera: Johannes Praus
Editor: Jana Dugnus
Sound: Alexandra Praet
Producer: Iris Lammertsma, Boudewijn Koole, Stefan Kloos
Line Producer: Nazima Mintjes, Veronika Janatková
Music: Alex Simu
Sound Design: Jeroen Goeijers, Alenadra Praet
Graphic: Barbara Pilipp
Producing Assistant: Cathrin Goebel
Production: Witfilm, Kloos & Co. Medien Berlin
Co-production: Filmuniversität KONRAD WOLF Babelsberg, RBB/ARTE, BNN-VARA
Supported by: Netherlands Film Fund, Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA), DFFF Deutscher Film- und Fernsehfond, CoBO
Commissioning Editor: Sjoerd Van Den Broek (BNN), Dagmar Mielke (RBB/ARTE), Jens Stubenrauch (RBB)

“Abma impressively weaves these stories together with images and moments that document how difficult it is for his subjects to live in Socialist Cuba at this point in history.”


“Remarkably honest” Screen Daily


“A significant, entertaining, and beautifully crafted documentary.” Cinemagazin


“It is powerful. Daniel Abma shows a reflection of reality.”

AWARDS (Selection):
Audience Award at Image+Nation LGBT Film Festival Montreal

Best Human Rights Film at Verzio Human Rights Film Festival Budapest

Audience Award at Cinedoc Tbilisi

Best Feature Lenght Film at Filmkunsttage Sachsen-Anhalt 

Lili Award for Best Documentary at MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ Film Festival

Best Documentary at Amsterdam LGBT Film Festival


FESTIVALS (Selection):
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic

TLVFest, International Film Festival Havana, Cuba

East End Film Festival, UK

Filmfestival Cottbus, Germany

International Film Festival Bergen, Norway

Queer Film Festival Oldenburg, Germany

Belgrade Queer Film Festival, Serbia

Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Ukraine

Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Poland


Documentary, Netherlands/Germany 2016 (88 min./52 min.)


Director: Daniel Abma
Script: Alex Bakker
Production: Witfilm, Kloos & Co. Medien Berlin
Co-production: Filmuniversität KONRAD WOLF Babelsberg, RBB/ARTE, BNN-VARA
Distribution: Rise and Shine Cinema
World Sales: Rise and Shine World Sales


Supported by: