Archive of films Transit Havana / Transit Havana

Germany / Netherlands
2016, 88 min

Section: Documentary Films - Competition
Year: 2016

“Homophobia no, socialismo si!” shouts the official slogan of progressive Cuban politics. Thus, once a year, top plastic surgeons are invited to Havana to fulfil the dreams of five inhabitants eager for sex reassignment surgery. A full-blooded documentary that tracks the obstacles three candidates face on the way to attaining a procedure they have so long desired.


Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and an activist and determined crusader for the rights of sexual minorities, secured invitations for plastic surgeons from Europe to travel regularly to Havana. These top specialists only come over to the Caribbean metropolis once a year, however, and they can thus only fulfil the dream of a lifetime – sex reassignment surgery – for five selected transsexuals. Over the course of one year the film follows the three main characters, Odette, Juani and Malú, who have put themselves on the waiting list. Rejected by the church and their congregation, confronting aversion in their own families, facing discrimination and poverty, refusing a life of prostitution, and uneasy about the irreversible change ahead – such is the reality of life for three individuals hoping for the chance of an operation. This singular documentary doesn’t seek to educate on a superficial level, offering instead a thoroughgoing drama that unfolds in an island state full of paradoxes, where potential change is foreshadowed by the official slogan of new progressive politics: “Homophobia no, socialismo si!”

Martin Horyna

About the director

Daniel Abma (b. 1978, Netherlands) studied direction with a focus on documentary film at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf in Potsdam. He enjoyed great success with his feature debut, the student film Beyond Wriezen (Nach Wriezen, 2012), which premiered at Leipzig before travelling the IFF circuit, also taking in IDFA, the largest international festival of documentary film. For three years Abma observed young men released from prison in Wriezen and showed the various paths taken by individuals intent on resocialisation and determined to gain a firm grasp on freedom. The director’s medium-length Hollanda del sol (2013) was also very well received, a film portraying Dutch senior citizens on holiday in the Spanish resort of Benidorm.


Rise And Shine World Sales
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About the film

Color, DCP
International premiere

Section: Documentary Films - Competition
Director: Daniel Abma
Screenplay: Alex Bakker
Dir. of Photography: Johannes Praus
Music: Alex Simu
Editor: Jana Dugnus
Producer: Stefan Kloos, Iris Lammertsma
Production: Kloos & Co. Medien GmbH
Coproduction: Witfilm
Sales: Rise And Shine World Sales


Daniel Abma

Film Director

Alex Bakker


Johannes Praus

Director of Photography

Stefan Kloos

Distributor, Producer, Sales Agent

Veronika Janatková


Alexandra Praet

Sound Designer


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