Worlds Apart

‘Fidel trusted me’: Jon Alpert, American filmmaker on Cuba documentary he filmed for 45 years

Jon Alpert is an American journalist and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. He spent 45 years following three Cuban families and Fidel Castro to show Americans “what the Cuban revolution was like.”

“Fidel trusted me, he considered me his friend and took risks allowing my camera into places no one’s been before – into his bedroom, his kitchen,” Alpert says. “It’s the Fidel that nobody had ever seen, even the Cubans hadn’t seen him like this before.”

Alpert met Fidel several times, and says the “defensive posture” the Cuban leader took against Washington “hurt the revolution.” 

“It needed to be more flexible with human rights and economically,” the director says. Cuba “never had the chance” to run its social experiment due to the “tremendous pressure” exerted by the United States. 

Before switching to making documentaries, Jon Alpert reported war zones from Vietnam to Iraq. “I will risk my life if I think the report I make is going to change something,” he says. 

Check out the full story with Jon Alpert and learn more about “Cuba and the Cameraman” and why he thinks the US embargo against the regime failed.