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A Promise to My Dad

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Thank you for visiting my GoFundMe page for my film, A Promise to My Dad.

A Promise To My Dad is a film about a promise I made to my father at his wake, after he committed suicide.

My dad Mario Vara left Cuba with my mom and my brother in 1968, in search of freedom from Castro's communist dictatorship.

But leaving his homeland, and his family behind to come to the U.S. and start a new life wasn't easy for my dad.

You see, by leaving, my dad knew he would probably never return.

He never returned.

Shortly after moving our family to Rochester, NY, my dad realized that despite the promises of freedom and liberty that a life in America can bring, the harsh reality is that there are also many injustices here as well.

In fact, my dad  experienced police abuse and intimidation tactics here, very similar to the ones he escaped his homeland of Cuba for in the first place.

One specific incident which my film A Promise to My Dad highlights would forever change my dad's life.

And mine.

That's when Rochester, NY Police officers Randall Benjamin and Mark Mariano kicked in the front door to our home at 184 Child Street, and illegally entered into our home, terrorizing our family at gunpoint.

I will never forget that day.

I was terrified.

Having been raised to respect authority, and having been taught as a child that police officers were good, and that if you ever need help, police officers were your friend, seeing these officers pointing guns at me and my family, and threatening to shoot my dog, was something I just couldn't comprehend.

And still can't.

As a result of that incident, my dad became very outspoken against police abuse and misconduct.

Unlike many Americans who take their rights for granted, my dad took a stand.

Having lived a communist country, my dad knew all too well what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state, where simply expressing one's dislike for Castro and his government could land you in prison.

My dad was very passionate in his denouncement of rogue cops abusing and violating citizen's civil rights here in the U.S.

As a teen, I tagged along with my dad, accompanying him to community meetings, rallies, and marches where he demanded accountability not only from those whose job it is to serve and protect, but also from the elected officials whose job it is to keep them in check.

As result of my dad's work, the Rochester, NY Police Department made his life miserable.

Through a pattern of retaliation, the Rochester, NY Police Department went out of his way to harass and intimidate my dad.

This went on for a while.

And it took its toll on my dad.

My dad fell into a very bad, and deep depression, and on July 9, 1993, committed suicide.

At my dad's wake I made a promise to him.

I promised him that I would continue his work.

Here I am, 22 years later, still keeping that promise.

A Promise to My Dad will tell my dad's story.

The film will also delve into suicide and the pain that families are left with after their loved ones committ suicide.

A Promise to My Dad will also follow me and my struggle with depression, a subject which still, to this day, has negative a stigma which millions of Americans are not comfortable talking about.

All funds raised will go towards my film, A Promise to My Dad.

If I can raise or surpass my fundraising goals amount, I would love to visit Cuba.

I've never been there, and visiting will be a little bittersweet since my family is no longer around, grandparents, uncles, and aunts who I never met, have passed on, but I'd love to visit my family roots and film part of my film in Cuba.

It would be very emotional, since my dad never returned to his homeland.

But it would be beautiful as well.

Thank you,

Davy Vara




Davy Vara
Rochester, NY

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