“Elián” – Film Premiere & Panel Discussion | Wilson Center

“Elián” – Film Premiere & Panel Discussion

New Documentary Provides what The Daily Beast calls, “a Meditation on Human Autonomy in a World where Politics and History are Constantly Shaping Us”

Special DC Screening Co-Sponsored by CNN Films, Gravitas Ventures, and the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program

On Thanksgiving Day 1999, five-year-old Elián González was found clinging to an inner tube off the Florida coast after his mother and ten others drowned trying to reach the United States from Cuba. The wrenching custody battle that followed, pitting the boy’s Cuban father against relatives in Miami, became one of the biggest television news stories of modern times. With ground-breaking interviews and extraordinary archival footage, the new documentary feature film Elián explores that struggle and its consequences for the González family, the Cuban-American community, and U.S. policy toward Cuba.

The Wilson Center hosted the film’s first screening in Washington, DC. The film’s co-director and writer Tim Golden moderated a lively panel discussion afterwards, which featured Gregory Craig, a former White House Counsel for President Obama and lawyer for Juan Miguel González; Carlos Saladrigas, chairman of the Cuba Study group, and José Cárdenas, a former Washington director of the Cuban American National Foundation.

The panelists, all of whom were involved in the fight over Elián, were unanimous in praising for the film as an incisive, moving, and even-handed exploration of the affair. With the United States at a crossroads in its policy toward Cuba, they also noted that the film underscores the importance of reconciliation for both the González clan and the larger Cuban family divided by the Florida Straits.

Photo Gallery

05-09-2017 Elian Movie Screening


Official Film Trailer




  • Tim Golden

    Public Policy Fellow
    Writer and Journalist on national security, foreign policy and criminal justice issues; Former Senior Writer, New York Times