Yurumein: Garifuna Homeland

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“Andrea Leland has produced a documentary film that is emotionally perceptive, culturally sensitive, and visually rich. I recommend it highly.

-Virginia Kerns, Ph.D., Author of Women and the Ancestors: Black Carib Kinship and Ritual

YURUMEIN

Filmmaker Andrea Leland has recently completed an affecting documentary entitled Yurumein. The 50-minute film outlines the history of the Garinagu (historically known as Black Caribs)—descendants of indigenous Carib, Arawak and West African people who lived freely on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent for centuries, where they enjoyed a peaceful, prosperous existence. The advent of colonialism marked the beginning an arduous conflict between Garifuna and European forces, and for many years the Garinagu successfully fought off their would-be oppressors. Finally, after the defeat of their valiant chief, Chatoyer, at the end of the 18th century, most Garinagu were killed or exiled to Central America by the British. Only a handful of Garinagu remained in hiding on the island, and for the next two hundred years, Garifuna culture was all but lost in St.Vincent.

Since the 18th century, Garifuna descendants on St. Vincent have suffered much prejudice and marginalization, and today know little of the traditions of their Carib ancestors. Meanwhile, the culture has survived in Garifuna communities along the coast of Central America, and in the past decade, Garifuna culture has gained an increasing amount of international attention. In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed Garifuna language, music and dance a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”

Inspired by stories of cultural revitalization efforts among native groups in the United States and the increasing visibility of Garifuna culture worldwide, St. Vincent’s Garinagu are becoming aware of the communities where the culture of their ancestors is still lived and celebrated, and have begun taking steps toward cultural reclamation. Yurumein captures the efforts of Vincentian Garinagu to recover their unique linguistic, musical, and spiritual heritage as they connect with their brothers and sisters across the Garifuna Diaspora.

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SCREENINGS & OUTREACH

Yurumein is currently being screened at film festivals and conferences throughout North America and Europe, with great responses from audiences. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Rincón Film Festival in Puerto Rico. In June, it was screened at the DC Caribbean Film Festival, the Garifuna International Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Belize International Film Festival. Yurumein was also shown at the Sacred Journeys Conference in Oxford, England, an inter-disciplinary conference exploring themes of pilgrimage. In December, it will be presented at the Society for Visual Anthropology Conference in Washington, DC and the Critical Heritage Studies Conference in Canberra, Australia.

Miss Lucia Ellis, a Belizean Garifuna author and activist, is bringing the film to Garifuna communities throughout her Central America. Ellis was among those featured in Yurumein as she traveled to St. Vincent and participated in the memorial service for the ancestors on Balliceaux, the site of the Garifuna holocaust. In June, Ellis presented the film to over ninety delegates of the National Garifuna Council in Belize, and led a Q&A session after the screening. The audience was deeply affected by the story they saw on screen, and recognized the role of the transnational Garifuna Nation (“the diaspora”) in maintaining the health of Garifuna cultural practices. She reports:

“It was an emotional and impacting experience for all present….the role the diaspora has played in preserving the Garifuna culture is crucial and cannot be overstated. We must all participate in taking the culture back to Yurumein”

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GOALS FOR YURUMEIN

The movement to bring Garifuna culture back to St. Vincent and reconnect Garinagu to the homeland of their ancestors is important to the health and vitality of Garifuna culture. Beyond that, the Garifuna story is an inspiring example of a people’s resistance to colonial domination and cultural hegemony, one that should be celebrated well beyond the borders of the Garifuna community itself.

Leland and the Yurumein team are passionate about involving the transnational Garifuna community in screenings and discussions about the film, raising awareness of St. Vincentians’ interest in the culture, and bringing the film to cultural centers, film festivals, and universities on an international scale. Our long term goals for the film include translating it into Spanish for use in schools across Central and Latin America, and the publishing of a university-level study guide (in both English and Spanish) to accompany the film.

Yurumein is an excellent teaching tool for professors of anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, global and area studies, as it addresses issues of globalization, ethnicity, cultural revival, and alternative historical narratives.

“The film considers the effects of colonization, slavery, genocide, and exile as they continue to reverberate across generations, but also beautifully highlights the central role of dance, drumming, and food ways in diasporal survival and revival. This film will be a great resource for any student of Caribbean history or culture.”

-Monica Hairston O’Connell, Ph.D., Executive Director Center for Black Music Research

HELP GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT THIS FILM!

Host a screening, review the film on your website, blog and/or newsletter, purchase the film for your library, or mention the film on social networks.

For more information, trailer, and press kit, please visit: www.yurumeinproject.com

or contact: yurumeinmovie@gmail.com

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