El Antillano: Documentary on Ramón Emeterio Betances at Lehman College

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Our thanks to Leslie Offutt for bringing this item to our attention.

Ramón Emeterio Betances is one of the most important figures in the history of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Called by many “the father of the Puerto Rican homeland,” he was instrumental in the Puerto Rican abolition movement in the 19th century, one of the intellectual leaders of the pro-independence movement and the 1868 rebellion known as the the Lares Uprising (El Grito de Lares), as well as being key in the independence movements of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He trained as a physician and surgeon in Paris, selflessly offering his help to the poor, for which he was also called the “Father of the Poor”. Betances was also a journalist, essayist, poet, novelist and ambassador of Puerto Rico in all but title.

In spite of all of this, Betances is an illustrious stranger to many Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rican official history barely mentions him, and many people on the island perhaps only know his name.

For this reason the filmmaker Tito Román Rivera was given the task of creating a documentary film about Betances, an idea that emerged during his studies at the International School of Film and Television of San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba. The film titled El Antillano [es] [The Antillean in English] offers an overview and vindication of the life of one of the main proponents of the Antillean Confederation as a way to curb U.S. expansionism.

The film, produced by Román Rivera’s company Caserío Films [es] is a completely independent production. It is worth noting that the film has so far not received any help from the Film Corporation of Puerto Rico; instead, it got a good part of the necessary funds through a Kickstarter campaign, and then received help from the Puerto Rican Endowment for the Humanities during postproduction.

For more on the film go to http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/04/11/documentary-unearths-the-story-of-eminent-puerto-rican-ramon-emeterio-betances/

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