Cuba's greatest Olympic athlete shares a remarkable personal journey through a cauldron of sporting drama & politics - providing an engaging and revealing insight into his unique country and its tangled relationship with America.
Alberto Juantorena’s sensational double win at the 1976 Montreal Olympics reverberated around the globe and catapulted him to national iconic status. In both races he defeated hot favorites from the USA, before dedicating his victories to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. It sent a symbolic message to the world that despite being a small country handicapped by tough sanctions, Cuba could still take on its great nemesis and win.
Today, as IAAF Vice President and Head of Cuban Athletics, he leads a new generation of athletes hoping to emulate him on the sporting stage. But life in Cuba is challenging, with resources and facilities hard to come by - due to the US Embargo, in place now for nearly 60 years. Despite repeated calls from the UN to lift end it, the blockade remains. Juantorena, like all Cubans, wishes more than anything for it to be lifted and for Cuba to thrive once again. But until that day comes, the country remains severely handicapped in its ability to develop and prosper.
Juantorena is no stranger to obstacles and uncertainty. Born in Santiago de Cuba - birthplace of the Cuban Revolution - he vividly recalls the sounds of gunfire and the social turmoil during his youth, and the time his father was arrested by then president Batista’s troops. At his first Olympics in Munich 1972 he witnessed first-hand the Israeli hostage drama unfolding. 'Sport and Politics are like oil and water' he says. 'They do not combine.
Running for the Revolution focuses on the life journey of one man and his country’s uneasy relationship with America both past and present. And out of this turbulent political backdrop emerges a special ingredient to our film: Juantorena’s enduring friendship with former US Olympic rival Fred Newhouse. In the 40 years since their thrilling close-finish duel at the 1976 Games, they have forged a close bond and mutual respect borne from their shared experience - symbolically illustrating that given a chance by their leaders, harmony can exist between people of conflicting nations.
Mark Craig Producer / Director