Imagine, three thousand boats, filled with 125,000 people, sailing over a small 90-mile patch of sea that might as well have spanned thousands of miles. On this sea, refugees sailed between two worlds. The outcome of those crossings not only had repercussions for the lives of the refugees, but for Arkansans as well. This is their story.
This documentary is about the Cubans interned at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, in 1980, as a result of the Cuban Mariel Boat Lift. It describes life at the camp but its focus is how the political landscape of Arkansas and the nation affected, and were affected by, the Cubans' internment.
Of special note is that the filmmakers shot the closing clip just a few weeks before a fire destroyed the whole area of barracks in which the Cuban refugees were interned. It is poignant that not only is there no trace left of any Cuban who lived at Chaffee, the physical evidence of their internment is now gone as well. While both have disappeared from Arkansas, the political and social ramifications of internment and re-settlement remain a particularly relevant issue today.
2008[v7], DVD-NTSC-R1, 09:59
Produced, Written, Directed and Edited by Sarah & Emma Bailin
Narrator: Emma Bailin
Music: H. Grady Bailin
Interviewees: Skip Rutherford, David Martin, Harold Trisler, Slyvia Orton, Frank Fellone, Jack Moseley
AWARD WINNING DOCUMENTARY
2009 • JUNE
Official Selection, 15th Annual Los Angeles Film Festival, Future Filmmakers Showcase (High School Shorts), Los Angeles, CA.
2009 • MAY
Official Finalist Selection, @15.com Short Film Contest, Film Independent, www.at15.com
2009 • APRIL
Official Selection, Eighth Annual University of Arkansas at Monticello Documentary Film Festival, Monticello, Arkansas
2008 • OCTOBER
1st Place, Documentary Section, The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival High School Competition, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Official Selection, 11th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, Southern Teen Filmmaking Showcase, Memphis, TN
Official Selection, 17th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Hot Springs, AR
2008 • SEPTEMBER
‘WEE WOW’ finalist and Official Selection of the 2008 Independents' Film Festival (IFF) Showcase, Tampa, FL
(IFF: WOW awards are usually presented to a film that exceeds our expectations in some way, whether that be with the story line, the production or the effects. "Wee WOW" will be presented to a Junior filmmaker who has accomplished something extraordinary).
2008 • JULY
Official Selection, 2008 T Tauri Film Festival, Batesville, Arkansas
2008 • JUNE
Official Selection, 2008 CineYouth Festival, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois
2008 • MAY
Official Selection, 2008 Little Rock Film Festival and AETN Student Selects, Little Rock, Arkansas
Featured Film, 2008 AETN Student Selects Showcase, Arkansas Educational Television Network Broadcast Noon, May 11, Arkansas
2008 • APRIL
Outstanding OVERALL Award, My Community Governor's Award, Governor's Mansion, Little Rock, Arkansas
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies Outstanding Senior Division Arkansas History Entry, History Day in Arkansas State Competition, UCA, Conway, Arkansas
First Place, Senior Group Documentary Film Competition, History Day in Arkansas State Competition, UCA, Conway, Arkansas
First Place, Senior Division Group Documentary Film Competition, UALR History Day, Little Rock, Arkansas
Official Selection, 2008 da Vinci Film Festival, Corvallis, Oregon
First Place, EAST/Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Hot Springs, Arkansas
2008 • JANUARY
On January 29th, after filming on location at Fort Chaffee just two weeks before, the barracks burned to the ground. Sadly, the final clip in RETURN TO SENDER is the last extant film documentation of the barracks - barracks that had once held refugees from Vietnam, Cuban and Hurricane Katrina.