French filmmaker Olivier Assayas is about to get his biggest global audience yet with the Netflix premiere of his new movie “Wasp Network” coming to the platform on June 19. Based on the true story of five Cuban spies held as political prisoners from the late 1990s up until 2014, the movie stars Penélope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, and Gael García Bernal. Watch the first trailer for “Wasp Network” below.
This espionage thriller is based on the book “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War: The Story of the Cuban Five” by Fernando Morais. The Cuban Five were arrested in September 1998 before being later convicted in Miami of several illegal activities including conspiracy to commit espionage and murder, as well as acting as agents of a foreign government. The Five had infiltrated the U.S. to observe Cuban-American groups, including the Alpha 66, among other anti-Castro paramilitary groups.
“Wasp Network” first premiered at the Venice Film Festival last fall, where it was met with reviews mixed enough to convince Assayas to take the movie back to the editing room. He debuted a new cut at the New York Film Festival. “The morning after I saw the film in Venice I sent a text message to [producer] Rodrigo [Teixeira] about changing elements of the film’s second half,” Assayas said. “I sensed there were moments when the audience had doubts, that they might be uncomfortable with the politics, and I thought they would be easy fixes.” Assayas also said after Venice that this is his most complex and ambitious movie yet.
Assayas said that, initially, Cuban authorities refused to let him shoot “Wasp Network” on their soil. Eventually, Cuba opened its doors, and Assayas and his crew lived in Havana for half a year to finish the movie.
Olivier Assayas won Best Director at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for “Personal Shopper,” and competed for the Golden Lion at Venice in 2018 with “Non-Fiction.” Next up, he’ll take his 1996 film “Irma Vep,” starring Maggie Cheung, to television with a series adaptation being set up by A24. The “Irma Vep” series marks the first collaboration between Assayas and the popular indie film studio.
“Wasp Network” also marks his first collaboration with Netflix. Here’s the trailer.