New documentary ‘Castro’s Spies’ to premiere online at GFF, 26 February – 1 March 2021

Castro’s Spies – film still

Castro’s Spies is one of six films nominated for the prestigious Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival. This thrilling documentary tells the remarkable story of the Miami Five, hailed as the last soldiers of the Cold War. They were an elite group of Cuban undercover agents who were sent to Florida in the 1990s to infiltrate and dismantle the anti-Cuban groups Alpha 66, the F4 Commandos, the Cuban American National Foundation and Brothers to the Rescue. Abandoning unsuspecting families to ‘defect’ to America, they assumed new identities, led double lives and sacrificed everything to defend Castro’s Cuba from the threat of terrorism. The group members were arrested in September 1998 and later released between 2011 and 2014.

This fascinating, forensic film features in-depth interviews with all five agents, revealing the risks they took and their place in the bigger picture of fraught Cuban-American relations. “A documentary as tense as any John le Carré novel.”

The Five themselves speak about their recruitment, training and eventual capture on US soil, and the documentary makers had access to never-before-seen footage from the Cuban Film Institute’s archive.

The documentary is made by Irish filmmakers Ollie Aslin and Gary Lennon and produced by Gambit Pictures in Ireland. N/C 12+

The UK premiere of the documentary will be screened at the Glasgow Film Festival 24 February-7 March 2021. The festival will be a fully online event.

Screenings are available through the festival website at

Show dates are Friday 26 February, Saturday 27 February, Sunday 28 February, Monday 1 March. There are limited screenings so pre-book now. To pre-book viewing of the documentary visit the website above.

Extracts from reviews:

“Compelling as a tale of Cold War intrigue and fraught international relations, Castro’s Spies is equally gripping on a human level especially when the focus settles on emotional accounts of what happened to each one of the five.”

“Best of the new Irish films was, however, the fascinating Castro’s Spies. Doing what it says on the cigar box, Ollie Aslin and Gary Lennon’s film goes among those people who spied in the US for the Cuban government over the past four decades. It’s an extraordinary tale that plays a little like a less threatening nod to the TV series The Americans. US observers make the reasonable argument that these operatives, more defensive than offensive, offered no serious threat to the US. Their main job was to warn against any attempt to mount another invasion in the style of the Bay of Pigs.

The trade craft is fascinating. The archive footage of vintage Cuban spy shows adds colour. The stories told are worth cherishing. A fascinating piece of work.”

THE irish times

“The film features all of the five spies, namely Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González, and attempts to tell their biographies by striking a good balance between narrating their pre-Cuban Five life, their troubled family relationships, and their operations on US soil. Lennon and Aslin intelligently betray the viewers’ expectations and deliver a curious portrait of a group of spies that drive very old cars, live in modest studio apartments, keep a low profile and miss their family and country very much. The five agents looked like simple “everymen,” worked on a very tight budget and were very far from embodying the James Bond’s stereotypical luxurious lifestyle and hi-tech gadgets…

… The editing, taken care of by Aslin, is smooth and intriguing and accompanied by a striking score (courtesy of Damien Lynch), well fit to depicting the Cold War tension caused by the highly fraught US-Cuba diplomatic relations. In summary, the documentary is informative and compelling, and not exempt from a few humorous moments, provided by the spontaneous wit of the spies. “


Watch the trailer