Campaign: Nuestra Cuba
Nuestra Cuba tells the inspiring stories of Cuba’s first women and Afrocuban film directors. In the years following the Cuban Revolution, the island would become a leader in the Latin American film movements to eradicate colonial ideologies that once controlled the region.
Nuestra Cuba is a two-part documentary series, directed by Amberly Alene Ellis, that reveals the role that black women film directors had in the development of a new Cuban cinema during two very different time periods in Cuban history.
Sara Gomez Yera would become the first woman director in the Caribbean to direct a film at the Institute of Cuban Cinema (ICAIC). She would lead the institute in it’s courageous quest to create a truly unique and revolutionary cinema during the 1960s’ and 70s. Defying the challenges posed by her race and gender, the young filmmaker would utilize cinema for a powerful tool to critically access the new republic.
At thirty years old, Gomez would die suddenly in the midst of her most respected work, De Cierta Manera. De Cierta Manera, or One Way or The Other, a feature length film that confronts issues of race, religion and gender roles in Cuba after the revolution.
Decades would pass before ICAIC would see another black or woman film director. In 1992, Director Gloria Rolando directed Oggun: An Eternal Presence, a film that tells the legend of Oggun and explores the roots of the presence of African deities in Cuba. In 1998 she would premiere “Eyes of the Rainbow”, an intimate look at the life of Black Panther Assata Shakur, during her exile in Cuba.
Though very different directors stylistically, both Gomez and Rolando have done extensive work on the documentation of AfroCuban culture. Since 1959, Sara Gomez and Gloria Rolando have been the only AfroCuban women at ICAIC to direct film. Nuestra Cuba seeks to reclaim the importance of the lives and work of two women that dedicated so much to film history and to the idea that we can use cinema for social change.
This story comes at a very important time in Cuban history. As Cuba is changing very rapidly, the possibility of the digitization of films that were almost impossible to share outside of Cuba, are now becoming available.
It is important to preserve the work of those who have not been recognized as “great Cuban filmmakers”, in the way that others have been recognized for their work. In Cuba, director Gloria Rolando still struggles to find the support and funding to produce films that tell the stories of AfroCuban people. Although Sara Gomez was first in many aspects, her work has been severely understudied in Cuba. Less than half of her films are available to the general public.
The struggles that these women faced, and the art that they were able to create puts forth a way to see Cuba through new eyes.
Unfortunately, since their films have not been able to impact the majority of Cuban people, or viewers outside the country, contributions to this project will help reclaim their legacy. Their stories are at risk of being lost if preservation and attention to their work does not happen immediately.
Nuestra Cuba is an opportunity to reclaim the power of these film, and share the complexity, through their perspectives of the complexity of African heritage in Cuba.
The campaign’s goal is $10,000.