CUBAN WOMEN OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA: INSPIRATION FOR CHANGE AN ONLINE FILM SERIES
Series of films with accompanying speakers each Sunday in October at 7pm cst
October 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30
We are providing a space for Cuban women of the African diaspora to speak for themselves. Because of the US blockade of Cuba, which extends to platforms like Zoom, we are unable to have our Cuban sisters participate directly in meetings and conferences. Through these films, made by JuanaMaria Cordones-Cook, a scholar of the amazing surge of Afro-Cuban creativity made possible by the Cuban Revolution, we can share their truths and their creativity with US audiences.
Many in the audience may require context-setting and additional information allowing them to make connections. Our speakers will provide this.
As we know, in just over 60 years, Cuba has gone from 60% to 99+% literacy, from almost no opportunity for poor, rural, or Black people, especially women, to acquire an education to a universally accessible free education system that extends from pre-school to doctoral level. The results have included a flowering of Afro-Cuban creativity. Our presentation includes films with poets Nancy Morejón and Georgina Herrera, author and researcher Gisela Arandia, graphic artist Belkys Ayón and playwright Fátima Patterson, all of whom are conscious explorers of the experience of Afro-descendiente women of Cuba.
An important part of our work is to tell the truth, to counter the disinformation about Cuba pumped out by well-funded professional propagandists. In order to build a stronger movement against the US blockade of Cuba and against unjust sanctions applied to other nations, such as Venezuela, people in the US must become aware of the people of these nations as human beings rather than as objects that it is permissible for the US to manipulate and harm, in order for the US to achieve political goals.
October 2, 2022
Belkis Ayón: Grabado de desasosiego / The Engraving of Restlessness (Cuba 2021),
52 min. with English subtitles. Production and direction by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. Comment: Presentation of Belkis Ayón (La Habana 1967-1999), an unparalleled figure in Cuban visual arts. With extraordinary talent, Belkis brought substantial innovations to collagraphy. The documentary shows essential aspects of her artwork, while revealing her paradoxical personality, charismatic and warm while also enigmatic. In her engravings, the film presents a closed and hermetic universe, overflowing with restlessness that awakens in her audience an unsettling disquiet.
From the beginning, Belkis was interested in the mythology of the abakuá, a secret society that excludes women. She discovered within the ñáñigo heritage its aesthetics and its visual and poetic essences. Belkis embraced them and created her artwork engaging the abakuá imagery inspired by the Sikán myth, a man envisioned myth that victimizes women.
Complemented by Carlos Fariña’s music, the film is enriched by the voice of Nancy Morejón reading Belkis’ declarations, and by comments from Katia Ayón and her parents, and from distinguished intellectuals and artists, Lázara Menéndez, Serafín “Tato” Quiñones, Cristina Vives-Figueroa, Angel Ramírez, Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar, Janette Brossard, Luisa Marisy, Norberto Marrero, José Omar Torres, and David Mateo. Discussant: Filmmaker, Juanamaria Cordones-Cook
October 9, 2022
Gisela Arandia: Intelectualidad negra después de 1959 / Black Intelligentsia after 1959 (2022), testimonial documentary ca. 34 minutes. Direction and production Juanamaría Cordones-Cook.
Comment: Arandia analyzes the role of the black intelligentsia after 1959 going back to her experiences as a young black female intellectual and the avant-garde Black intelligentsia. She points out some extraordinary achievements of the Revolution in contrast with the lack of an institutional space devoted to racial discrimination issues. Furthermore, Arandia discusses the lack of public discourse on racism and gives some examples in literature and mass media. Discussant: Demetria Shabazz
with Cimarroneando with Georgina Herrera (2011), ca. 30 minutes long with English subtitles.
Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. A documentary of a candid interview of Georgina Herrera with J. Cordones-Cook where the poet straightforwardly discusses memories of her family who could not understand her poetic vocation, her love for her African ancestors, blended with issues of gender, racial identity, and racism in contemporary Cuba. Her declarations are illuminated by readings of her own poetry. The film includes images of Georgina in different moments of her life, with artwork and African masks from the University of Missouri, Museum of Art and Archaeology and Museum of Anthropology. The music was played and composed for this documentary by Professor Anthony Glise. Discussant: Kimberly Waller
Georgina Herrera: mujer, negra y pobre / Woman, Black, and Poor (2022), ca. 48 minutes. Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. Comment:
Georgina Herrera (Jovellanos 1936-Havana 2021) re-counts her oral history while she explains what it means to be born female, black, and poor, and the heroism needed to live as such. She shares her running away from Jovellanos to Havana where she eventually joined the Ediciones El Puente writers. She acknowledges the education and work possibilities offered by the Revolution. However, always defiant and uncompromising, Georgina also points out that those opportunities were not enough, and that the Revolution had not been able to control racism and discrimination. Discussant: Lisa Brock
Fátima Patterson, Race, Gender and Theater / Raza, género y teatro (Cuba 2019),
43 minutes long with English subtitles. Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. Comment: Presentation of the personal and artistic journey of Fátima de la Caridad Patterson Patterson (Santiago de Cuba 1951), storyteller, actress, theater director, and playwright, who has been distinguished with the
Premio Nacional de Teatro 2017, the highest theater award in Cuba. Founder of the Macubá theater group in Santiago de Cuba, Fátima Patterson combats disremembering. She addresses issues of race, gender, and popular religion, through theater and oral history, a genre she masterly practices and incorporates in her artistic work. In a combination of performances, rhythms, and dances, this documentary presents the origin and development of this charismatic artist who with a strong sense of belonging brings to her creations her personal experience intertwined with traditions and components of the ancestral African heritage. The film is enriched by comments of leading Cuban intellectuals, Alberto Lescay Merencio, Enrique Bonne, Vivian Martínez Tabares,Georgina Herrera, Orlando Vergés, and Marino Wilson Jay, complemented by images of Santiago with music by José Aquiles Virelles Rodríguez and the Conga de los Hoyos. Discussant: Rita Sacay
Nancy Morejón: Famous Landscapes / Paisajes célebres (Cuba 2013), ca. 52 minutes long with English subtitles. Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. This documentary offers a unique perspective on contemporary Cuban culture and intellectual life through the world, artistic achievements and life experience of one of its most
celebrated poets, Nancy Morejón (Havana 1944), as well as through the voices and images of prominent Afro-Cuban intellectuals. The music was performed by Richard Egües, Marta Valdés, and Elena Burke. Discussant: Rosemari Mealy (live)
Juanamaría Cordones-Cook (Filmmaker)
University of Missouri Professor and Emmy-Nominated Filmmaker Professor Cordones-Cook has built her scholarship around four related and complementary pillars: Gender Studies, Afro Latin American theater, Afro-Cuban Renaissance and Documentary filmmaking. Her research has always concentrated on the marginal non-canonical voices, literature and culture of women and Afro-descendants: those who share an experience of oppression and repression. She has published over eighty articles, thirteen books, and directed over 35 documentaries University of Missouri Curators’ Distinguished Professor of SpanishThe Catherine Paine Middlebush Professor of Romance Languages Emmy-Nominated Filmmaker email@example.com
Cuban Women of the African Diaspora: Inspiration for Change sponsors
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF-US)
US Women and Cuba Collaboration
The Literacy Project
Bay Area Cuba Saving Lives Committee
Teatro de la Tierra
Southern Anti-Racism Network
National Network on Cuba (NNOC)