Directed by Carla Valdes Leon • Documentary • 2016 • 45 minutes
Delfin, a shirtless old man in a New York Yankees cap, proudly fingers the medals on the military uniform hanging on the wall of his small home in the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba. The uniform belongs to his son, one of more than 400,000 Cuban soldiers and civilians sent to Angola between 1975 and 1991 in support of the country's left-wing government. Two thousand of them were killed. Three decades after he served, Delfin's son remains troubled by trauma.
DECEMBER DAYS shows some of the ways in which the mission to Angola-a massive solidarity effort from a small country-touched the lives of ordinary Cubans. We meet an elderly woman who lost both her sons (one expresses happiness 'to be fighting for the oppressed peoples' in a letter home), veterans who live in wretched housing and feel forgotten, an award-winning journalist who covered the war, and an archivist who goes to great lengths to identify individual Cubans in photos from Angola.
Interspersed with propaganda footage of the mission, old documentaries, and scenes from the 1984 Cuban soap opera Something More than a Dream , DECEMBER DAYS is a poignant film about a nearly forgotten episode that marked a generation of Cubans and their families.