• Roze Filmdagen

    Best Documentary
  • MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ+ Film Festival

    Best Documentary
  • Filmkunsttage Sachsenanhalt

    Best Feature Length
  • Cinedoc Tbilisi

    Audience Award
  • Montreal LGBT – Image+Nation

    Audience Award
  • Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

3 year DSL license with PPR$449Buy Now
Life of file DSL license with PPR$549Buy Now
K-12, Public Libraries, Community Groups 3 year DSL license$200Buy Now

Spanish with English subtitles

With Mariela Castro, Juani Santos Peréz, Malú Caño Valladeres, Giselle Odette Diógenes Domínguez Rodríguez

Once a year, two plastic surgeons from Holland and Belgium fly to Havana to perform surgery on five transgendered Cuban nationals. The surgeons are invited by Mariela Castro, daughter of the president and head of the new state program for transgender care. Castro organizes this as a modern completion of the socialist revolution of 1959 because, in her words, it is all about emancipation and self-realization. ‘Homophobia no, socialismo si!’ is the official slogan.

The state helps transgender people with therapy, hormones, surgery, and a new identity. Is Cuba becoming a safe haven for trans people? For more than one year, filmmakers Daniel Abma and Alex Bakker followed the three main characters Odette, Juani, and Malú, and show how they deal with the reality of being transgendered in Cuba. As new heroes of the revolution they still face religious intolerance, discrimination, sexism, poverty, and often a life in prostitution. Meanwhile, they wait for the foreign surgeons to give them what they want most in life. Are their names among the five on this year‘s surgery list?

The documentary features the historic day when Presidents Castro and Obama suddenly announced new diplomatic relations, creating great expectations among the main characters. Transit Havana gives us a unique insight into the paradoxes of Cuba, showing the surprising side of an island in transition.


“A remarkably honest account of the Cuban transgender community as it follows three protagonists preparing to undergo life-changing surgery...the film delves deep into the ironies of using traditional propaganda to fight for a cause that enriches rather than diminishes human rights.” – Laurence Boyce, Screen Daily

“A commentary on what it is like to be transgender in socialist Cuba especially now that is going through a state of flux since the Regime is lightening up after the US started making friendly overtures at last. ” – Roger Walker-Dack, We The People

“A beautiful portrait of an older trans man's happiness and second lease on life.”Trans Male Resources

About the Director
Daniel Abma was born in 1978 in the Netherlands and moved to Berlin after finishing his studies in Primary School Education. He worked as a media literacy teacher before beginning his studies in Film Directing at the Film University Babelsberg in Potsdam (Germany). His feature-length documentaries Beyond Wriezen (2012), Transit Havana (2016), and Autobahn (2019) were shown at film festivals worldwide like Karlovy Vary Film Festival, IDFA, and DOK Leipzig, and won several audience- and jury awards. Abma focuses on observational, character-based documentaries about social issues.

Since 2017 he has worked at Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF where he teaches students in directing documentaries. Furthermore, he works as a tutor and trainer at pitching workshops (e.g. DOK Leipzig, Baltic Sea Docs Riga, Cinedoc Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev), and was part of the selection committee of the DOK-Leipzig film festival 2018 – 2022, where he also moderated Q&A’s with filmmakers.