In Havana, transsexuals Odette, Juani and Malú wait for genital surgery – performed by European top surgeons and organized by the president’s daughter, Mariela Castro. Castro is leading a sexual revolution combined with classic state socialism. New possibilities face old problems: will Cuban trans people find happiness despite intolerance, poverty and prostitution?



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. ‘Homofobia 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 followed 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?

This 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.



Directed by: Daniel Abma
Written by: Alex Bakker
Director of Photography: Johannes Praus
Sound: Alexandra Praet
Edited by: Jana Dugnus
Producers: Iris Lammertsma, Stefan Kloos, Boudewijn Koole
Sounddesign: Jeroen Goeijers, Alexandra Praet
Music: Alex Simu
Colourgrading: Martin Klein
Editing assistant: Robin Lach


With: Malú Caño Valladeres, Giselle Odette Diógenes Domínguez Rodríguez, Juani Santos Peréz, Mariela Castro Espín, Stan Monstrey, Marlon Buncamper, et al.



Commissioning editor BNN: Sjoerd van den Broek
Commissioning editor RBB/ARTE: Dagmar Mielke
Commissioning editor RBB: Jens Stubenrauch

Line Producers: Nazima Mintjes, Veronika Janatková, Carlos Bustamante Delgado
Postproduction: Filmmore Amsterdam, Remco Mastwijk
Producers Filmuniversität Babelsberg “Konrad Wolf”: Holger Lochau, Andrea Wohlfeihl
Production Manager & Data Wrangling: Cathrin Göbel
Production Crew: Weronika Adamowska, Loraine Blumenthal, Corine Gasser, Alexis Guzmán Pino, Michaela Pnacekova, Majel Reyes Quesada, Giovanni Zaninotto

Produced by: Witfilm, Kloos & Co. Medien.

A co-production with Filmuniversität KONRAD WOLF Babelsberg and RBB in cooperation with ARTE and BNN-VARA.


Supported by: Netherlands Film Fund, Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA), DFFF Deutscher Film- und Fernsehfond and CoBO.





0DETTE (38)

Odette still lives with her mother and grandmother. They don’t accept her as a trans woman but Odette has no other place to go. From the main house she had to move into the garage next door. She tries to win her family´s support and that of the church as religion plays a huge role in her life. Will Odette manage to free herself from the grip of her family and have the sex reassignment surgery?


JUANI (64)

Juani is the first official transsexual person in Cuba. A warm-hearted character, he lives with his brother and, although very poor, he is a strong believer in the socialist state and loves Mariela Castro. Last year the European surgeons made his dream come true and constructed him a penis. Now he wants to ‘breathe life into Pancho’ and hopes to get an erection implant.


MALÚ (28)

Malú is the respected and somewhat feared leader of the Cuban trans community. She changed her life from the bottom to the top. Once a prostitute, she now helps others who work the streets, tries to keep them safe and healthy, even if it means bitching to them. Her whole life is devoted to the transgender cause. She has seen twenty other trans women get the operation, when will it be her turn?



danielDANIEL ABMA (Director)

After finishing his studies at the PABO (Teachers College) in Assen and during the start of his studies Cultural Sciences (VU Amsterdam and Humboldt Universität Berlin), Daniel Abma (1978) worked for some years as youth worker in villages surrounding Berlin. From 2008 to 2015 he studied Direction at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF in Potsdam. In 2015 his graduation film, the documentary “Nach Wriezen” on rehabilitating juvenile delinquents, won the Grimme-Preis, the most prestigious German television award. ‘Transit Havana’ is his second long feature documentary.


alexALEX BAKKER (Scenario)

As an historian, Alex Bakker (1968) is specialised in transgender issues. He combines his personal transman-background with a professional outlook. Alex conducted the research for the documentary ‘I am a woman now’ by Michiel van Erp and for the broadcast ‘Transgender pioneers’ by the TV programme ‘Andere Tijden’ (Different Times). Alex was also involved in the exhibitions ‘Ik M/V’ (I M/V), 2012 at Museum Het Dolhuys in Haarlem and ‘Transmission’ at the Amsterdam Museum (closing date 13 March 2016). In March 2014 he published his autobiographical book ‘Mijn valse verleden’ (My untrue past) with publisher Nieuw Amsterdam. In addition, Alex works as researcher, editor and writer on various exhibitions and documentaries on WWII.


  • Special Mention @ Human Rights Filmfestival Valencia, 2017, Spain
  • Audience Award @ Image+Nation LGBT Film Festival Montreal, 2016
  • Best Human Rights Film @ Verzio Human Rights Film Festival Budapest, 2016
  • Audience Award @ Cinedoc Tbilisi, 2016
  • Best Feature Lenght Film @ Filmkunsttage Sachsen-Anhalt, 2016
  • Lili Award for Best Documentary @ MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ Film Festival, 2016
  • Best Documentary @ Amsterdam LGBT Film Festival “Roze Filmdagen”, 2016



  • September 2017, FM LGBT Film Festival, Fargo Moorhead, USA
  • September 2017, Llamale H Film Festival Montevideo, Uruguay
  • September 2017, Vilnius Queer Festival “Kreivės”, Lithuania
  • September 2017, Queer Lisboa Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal
  • September 2017, Baltic Sea Docs, Riga, Lativa
  • August 2017, Festival Internacional de Cine por los Derechos Humanos de Bogotá, Colombia
  • July 2017, Festival Cine Gay la Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
  • June 2017, Ciclo de Cine LGBTIQ+, Quito, Ecuador
  • June 2017, Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, USA
  • June 2017, TLVFest, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • May 2017, Favourites Film Festival Bremen, Germany
  • May 2017, Millennium Docs Against Gravity, Warsaw, Poland
  • April 2017, Transgender Film Festival Kiel, Germany
  • April 2017, Vues d´en Face LGBT Film Festival Grenoble, France
  • April 2017, ACT Human Rights Film Festival, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
  • April 2017, Ask international minorities festival, Karachi, Pakistan
  • March 2017, Docudays UA, Kiev, Ukraine
  • March 2017, One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Prague, Czech Republic
  • March 2017, Toronto Queer Film Festival, Canada
  • February 2017, International Film and Humans Rights Festival Valencia, Spain
  • February 2017, Zineoak LGBT Film Festival Bilbao, Spain
  • February 2017, Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, San Francisco, USA
  • December 2016, Image + Nation, Montreal LGBT Film Festival, Canada
  • December 2016, In-Doc Film Festival, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • December 2016, International Film Festival Havana, Cuba
  • December 2016, Belgrade Queer Film Festival Merlinka, Serbia
  • December 2016, This Human World, Human RighTs Film Festival Vienna, Austria
  • November 2016, Asterisco LGBT Film Festival Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • November 2016, El Lugar sin Limites, LGBT Film Festival Quito, Ecuador
  • November 2016, Pantalla Latina, Latino Film Festival St. Gallen , Switzerland
  • November 2016, Queersicht LGBT Film Festival Berin, Switzerland
  • November 2016, Latino Film Festival Saarbrücken, Germany
  • November 2016, 61. Cork Film Festival, Ireland
  • November 2016, Queer Film Festival Oldenburg, Germany
  • November 2016, Queerstreifen Münster, Germany
  • November 2016, FILMZ, Festival des deutschen Kinos, Germany
  • November 2016, Slovak Queer Film Festival, Slovakia
  • November 2016, Verzio Human Rights Film Festival Budapest, Hungary
  • November 2016, Filmfestival Cottbus, Germany
  • October 2016, Queer Filmfestival Weiterstadt, Germany
  • October 2016, Filmkunsttage Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
  • October 2016, Sydney Antenna Documentary Film Festival, Australia
  • October 2016, Cinedoc Tbilisi, Georgia
  • October 2016, International Queer Film Festival, Hamburg, Germany
  • September 2016, MIX Copenhagen LGBT Film Festival, Denmark
  • September 2016, International Film Festival Bergen, Norway
  • September 2016, Netherlands Film Festival Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • July 2016, East End Film Festival Documentary Competition, London, UK
  • July 2016, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Documentary Competition, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
  • May 2016, DOK.fest Munich International Competition, Germany
  • March 2016, Roze Filmdagen Amsterdam LGBT Film Festival, the Netherlands
  • March 2016, Movies that Matter Human Rights Filmfestival, Hague, the Netherlands



After two fully packed screenings of Transit Havana in Riga at Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries last week, our film will travel this month to:
- FM LGBT Film Festival Fargo USA
- QueerLisboa film festival Portugal
- Kreivės / Vilnius Queer Festival Lithuania
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Transit Havana @ Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries in Riga, Lativa - Friday Sept 8th, 18:00h. Discussion after the film with Kristine Garina, board of Association of LGBT and their friends Mozaika and film director Daniel Abma. ... See MoreSee Less

BSD 2017: "Havanas jaunā seja" / Tikšanās ar režisoru

September 8, 2017, 6:00pm - September 8, 2017, 12:00pm

Piektdien 8. septembrī Baltijas jūras dokumentālo filmu foruma (Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries) ietvaros kinoteātrī Ksuns/Kinogalerija notiks īpašs filmas "Havanas jaunā seja" (Transit Havana, 2016) seanss ar filmas režisora Daniela Abmas piedalīšanos. Jautājumu un atbilžu sesiju ar Danielu Abmu vadīs LGBT un viņu draugu apvienības "Mozaīka" valdes priekšsēdētāja Kristīne Garina. HAVANAS JAUNĀ SEJA / TRANSIT HAVANA Rež. Daniels Abma (Daniel Abma), Witfilm, Kloos & Co. Medien, 86 min, 2016, Nīderlande / Vācija / Kuba Prezidenta meitas Marielas Kastro vadībā Kubā tiek īstenota “seksuālā revolūcija” ar saukli “Homofobijai nē, sociālismam jā!” Valstī izveidota īpaša programma transpersonu atbalstam. Tās ietvaros reizi gadā Kubā ierodas plastiskie ķirurgi no Holandes un Beļģijas, lai pieciem cilvēkiem veiktu dzimuma maiņas operācijas. Savu kārtu gaida Odete, Huani un Malu. Lai gan valsts transpersonām palīdz ar terapiju, operācijām un jaunas identitātes iegūšanu, joprojām aktuālas ir vecās problēmas. Vai Kubas transpersonas atradīs laimi par spīti valstī izplatītajai neiecietībai, nabadzībai un prostitūcijai? Ieskats filmā: Filma tiks demonstrēta oriģinālvalodā ar subtitriem angļu valodā, nodrošinot tulkojumu latviešu valodā. Biļetes cena EUR 3. Skolēniem, studentiem, pensionāriem un kino profesionāļiem, uzrādot apliecības, seansi būs pieejami bez maksas. Kinoteātra K.Suns kases darba laiks – 30 min pirms pirmā kinoseansa un līdz pēdējā seansa sākumam. Biļetes iespējams iegādāties arī Baltijas jūras dokumentālo filmu forumu rīko Nacionālais Kino centrs sadarbībā ar starptautisko organizāciju EDN - European Documentary Network, to atbalsta Radošā Eiropa Media programma, LR Kultūras ministrija un Rīgas dome. Vairāk informācijas: un Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries.

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HEUTE Abend: Kuba-Abend! Transit Havana open-air-screening in Potsdam. ... See MoreSee Less


August 30, 2017, 7:00pm - August 30, 2017, 4:00pm

Wir zeigen an unserem Kuba-Abend im Hof des Lothar-Bisky-Hauses den Film Transit Havana. Der Film porträtiert Transsexuelle in Kuba, die teils jahrelang auf eine Möglichkeit zur Behandlung warten müssen, denn nur einmal im Jahr führen zwei Ärzte aus Belgien und den Niederlanden in Kuba geschlechtsangleichende Operationen durch. Das kubanische Programm für die kostenlose Behandlung Transsexueller wurde u. a. von Mariela Castro initiiert, der Nichte Fidel Castros, die sich seit Jahren für die Rechte von Homosexuellen und Trans*-Personen einsetzt. Nach dem Film wird Harald Petzold, Bundestagsabgeordneter und LINKER Direktkandidat für Oberhavel und das östliche Havelland, mit dem Regisseur Daniel Abma sprechen. Für karibisches Flair ist mit Cuba Libre und anderem gesorgt. Ebenfalls zu Gast ist Cuba Sí Berlin. Der Einlass beginnt um 18 Uhr.

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“Transit Havana” out on DVD now!
With every ordered DVD get the original film poster for free.
For furhter information and orders please contact
Video On Demand
“Transit Havana” is also available online, both in streaming and for download. Find out more HERE.


Schlesische Straße 29/30

D-10997 Berlin

Phone +49 – 30 – 4737 298 0
Fax +49 – 30 – 4737 298 20