A Secret Legacy: Cuban Exiles, The CIA & The Congo Crisis

: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


This is the story the CIA doesn’t want you to know. Will my family’s determination to learn the truth about my grandfather uncover their secret?


In 1963 the CIA secretly hired a group of Cuban-exiles to carry out a highly classified operation deep inside Africa’s Congo. My grandfather, who is now deceased, was one of those men. A Secret Legacy begins with a portrait of my Cuban family, still grappling with the effects that this secret war has had on us for over half a century. Told over the course of three years, the story will unfold as my father and I go on a personal quest to find out the truth about my grandfather, and his participation in this operation. Through this process, we are permitted an insider’s look into the inner workings of a CIA operation overseas. In the end, we will find a sense of connection and community through shared experiences, and finally break the code of silence that has been the legacy of this operation for over 50 years.


In November 2011, my father was shocked to find a Facebook page with never-before-seen photos of my grandfather working for the CIA in the Congo. In that instant, I knew I had to turn the camera on and start following this story. My father became almost obsessed with finding out everything he could about my grandfather’s involvement in the Congo, and I was along for the ride. I realized that the closer my father got to knowing his father, the closer I was able to get to him. But when I began to dig deeper and uncover the layers of secrets hidden by the CIA, I realized the larger implications of this story and the importance of revealing the truth to the American public.


Sandra Alvarez - Director

SANDRA ALVAREZ (Director) Sandra has experience directing and producing a wide spectrum of television programs appearing on Sundance, History Channel, BBC America, A&E Network, Discovery Channel, Biography Channel and TLC. Focusing on real-life, emotional stories, Sandra served as a field producer for A&E’s Emmy winning show "Intervention" and "The First 48." She worked as a director and producer for BBC America about the obesity problem in the US entitled, "Rude Awakening." Sandra directed a program for the Sundance Channel, "Get To Work", which tells the compelling story of a non-profit organization that teaches job skills to ex-convicts and recovering addicts in order to get them back into the workforce. Recently, Sandra produced a documentary series, "Dogs of War," that follows a non-profit organization in Albuquerque that teaches military veterans with PTSD how to train their own service dogs. She is currently working on a new project for A&E about restorative justice.

Visit Sandra's website http://www.reelmuse.com

Amanda Spain - Producer

AMANDA SPAIN (Producer) recently produced and directed a short for ESPN's acclaimed 30 for 30 series titled "Wrestling The Curse" about wrestler Kevin Von Erich, which will be premiering in 2015. She is currently Producing, "A Secret Legacy," a documentary exploring Cuban-exiles participation in a secret CIA led war in the Congo, as well as "Everything's Coming Up Profits," a documentary following Letterman writer Steve Young on his journey discovering the world of the corporate musical. She produced and directed "In Their Boots" (EP Robert Greenwald), a series dedicated to showing how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan affect us here at home, which was nominated for an IDA award in the Limited Series category. Her other work has appeared on networks such as A&E, PBS, MTV, Sundance Channel, Link and Discovery, among others. Her films have been accepted into festivals such as Women’s International Film Festival and New Fest.

Bryan Donnell - Director of Photography

BRYAN DONNELL (Director of Photography) Bryan is an Emmy-nominated Director of Photography, and is frequent collaborator of prominent directors such as Morgan Spurlock and Lucy Walker. A short narrative film, "Bean Cake", won the Palme d’Or for best short film at the Cannes film festival, and a narrative feature, "Wait Means Never" won both Best Cinematography and Best Feature at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. Recent work has been as series co-DP on CNN’s Morgan Spurlock: "Inside Man" (IDA award winner for best series) and on Ashley York and Kristina Goolsby’s documentary on Tig Notaro, premiering at Sundance in 2015.

Dava Whisenant - Editor

DAVA WHISENANT (Editor)- Dava has been editing feature films and television shows for over 15 years. Recently, she co-edited Focus Features’ 3D documentary "Under The Electric Sky," which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and she is currently the Editor and Co-Producer of "The Blues House", a feature-length documentary in post-production, directed by Sam Pollard. Dava got her start in features as an Editorial Assistant for Steven Soderbergh. She went on to do Additional Editing for the hit Sundance comedy "Puccini for Beginners", and she was the Editor of the documentary feature "Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself," part of the 2011 Emmy Award-winning season of American Masters. Dava also served as the Supervising Editor for NBC’s Emmy-nominated docu-series "Who Do You Think You Are?" Her work has been seen on CBS, NBC, CW, MSNBC, History, Discovery and PBS, among others.


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