Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels explores the little known story of the Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi-occupied Europe and found a safe haven on the Caribbean island of Cuba.

After a wave of Jewish refugees to Cuba in the 1920s and 30s, the island shut its doors to immigrants, most notably to the Jews aboard the ship the St. Louis in 1939. In 1940, Cuba changed course and took in 6,000 Jewish refugees, including hundreds of Jewish diamond cutters and their families who, for a few years, turned the small tropical island into one of the world’s major diamond-polishing centers. In the factories, women work beside men, Jews beside Cubans. The refugees interviewed in the film recall their lives in wartime Havana: the draw of Cuban food, music and dance, its language and people, and also the challenges they faced in this unfamiliar land. Film provided by the National Center for Jewish Film.

Join us after the film for a talkback led by the filmmakers, who are both local to Colorado and personally connected to the story – the film was born of the tales told to Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels co-director Judy Kreith from her mother about her escape from Nazi-occupied Belgium and her teenage years in 1940s Havana.

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Film Accolades
  • Denver Premiere

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