Spring 1971, Havana: The poet Heberto Padilla is released from jail and appears at
a meeting of the Cuban writers' guild where he spouts, in his own words, a
"heartfelt self-criticism." He proceeds to self-incriminate, declaring his status as a
counterrevolutionary agent and accusing many of his attending colleagues,
including his wife, of the same crime. A month before, his arrest under the
accusation of attacking the security of the Cuban state, mobilized the intellectual
vanguard of the entire world, who addressed a letter to Fidel Castro, leader of the
Cuban Revolution, with whom they previously sympathized, demanding freedom for
the poet, whose only sin was to dissent and criticize through his poetic work. The
writer's filmed mea culpa, shown to the public for the first time, marks the
narrative line of a story, punctuated by interventions from Gabriel García Márquez,
Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jorge Edwards, Carlos
Fuentes and Fidel Castro.
The Padilla case is an astonishing documentary that opens a window to explore
aspects of Cuba's past that reverberate in its present, such as the lack of freedom of
expression and the struggles of the cultural collective to obtain it.