Two exciting, colorful films spotlight the African roots of Cuba's culture by focusing on two legendary artists -- Rumbero Papa Montero and Filmmaker Sara Gomez -- in this unique box set.
THE LAST RUMBA OF PAPA MONTERO / LA ULTIMA RUMBA DE PAPA MONTERO
Get ready to rumba! The life of Cuba s last great rumbero is detailed in THE LAST RUMBA OF PAPA MONTERO, a bold story that captures Cuban traditions and culture through beautiful imagery, sensual music, and the most scorching Latin dance ever invented. Afro-Cuban mythology serves as the force behind the narrative as mythic figures guide the characters through the events of the story.
| Cuba/Martinique | 1992 | 52 mins | docu-drama in Spanish with English subtitles | Octavio Cortazar, Dir. |
“Montero is a celebration of rumba as heart and soul for a colorful Cuban landscape." - SLANT
SARA GOMEZ: AN AFRO-CUBAN FILMMAKER
Acclaimed filmmaker Sara Gomez comes to life in the rich, multilayered documentary SARA GOMEZ: AN AFRO-CUBAN FILMMAKER. Though trained in ethnography, Gomez became the first female Cuban filmmaker. Her background shaped her films, which reflect her interests in Afro-Cuban cultural traditions and women s issues. Friends and family members recall her talent, intelligence, and generosity. Ultimately SARA GOMEZ is a love story between Sara and her husband (filmmaker Germinal Hernandez), Sara and her family, and Sara and her culture. | Cuba/Switzerland | 2005 | 76 min | documentary in Spanish with English subtitles | Alessandra Muller, Dir. |
"[SARA GOMEZ] is an extremely important documentary.... " - Kwame Dixon, SCOPE
Angelica, after a long absence from Puerto Rico, returns home when her father, Wilfredo, suffers a stroke. This unexpected return and her father's illness force Angelica to re-evaluate her relationship with her mother and family members who don't accept her because of her skin color. She must face herself and discovers that she does not know who she is. After her father's death, Angelica must decide whether to return to the comfort of her previous life, dissatisfied, but secure, or set on an adventurous path to rediscover herself as an independent, modern, strong, black, and Puerto Rican woman.
Directed by Marisol Gómez-Mouakad, Puerto Rico, 2016, 100min, Drama, English & Spanish w/English subtitles
"Purposely challenging the Eurocentric beauty standards that blatantly plague Latin America on and off screen, Puerto Rican director Marisol Gómez-Mouakad sets out to tell the story of an empowered Afro-Latina fighting colorism at home in her debut feature Angélica." ~ Remezcla
“People talk about racism and sexism in the U.S.,” Gómez-Mouakad explains. “They may not do much, but in talking about it they are at least addressing the problem. In Puerto Rico — and across the Caribbean and Latin America — there is a lot of denial. If you do talk about the issues, you are accused of being over sensitive. But words have power and words can hurt.” ~ director Marisol Gómez-Mouakad
"In addition to the theme of racism, the film touches upon the implications of machismo in a patriarchal society from the perspective of women." ~ Repeating Islands
"Another glorious, glorious portrait on race and the roles women play—by pressure, by tradition, by choice. " ~ Guilie Castillo Oriard
MEXICO / 2018 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 104 MIN
Critically acclaimed drama Black Mexicans / La Negrada by Jorge Pérez has recently been acquired by Artmattan Productions!
Black Mexicans / La Negrada is the first Mexican feature film about the Afro-Mexican community, filmed entirely with people from different towns around the Costa Chica in Oaxaca.
Among the black people in the Costa Chica in Oaxaca, it is socially accepted that a man lives with more than one woman. Juana and Magdalena share Neri’s love, they both know that this situation is hurting them. Juana will have to die in order to show Magdalena a new path for her life.
In Mexico, the afro communities represents only 1% of the total population. They have never been recognized as an ethnic group, nation or culture, suffering discrimination as an outcast group. LA NEGRADA is the first Mexican fiction movie filmed entirely in one of those black communities, with local people, no professional actors. An effort to give them voice and make them visible.
Two documentaries that explore the life of black people in Europe. GURUMBÉ: AFRO-ANDALUSIAN MEMORIES is a documentary that explores the contribution of Africans to Spain from the 15th to the 18th centuries.THE BLACK MOZART IN CUBA celebrates the The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a remarkable man who lived in France in the 18th century.
Flamenco is synonymous with Spanish culture. Yet, since its inception, theorists have sidelined the fundamental contribution of Afro-Andalusians to this art form. As the black population began to diminish in Spain in the late 19th century, so too did their contribution to this extraordinary art form. In Gurumbé: Afro-Andalusian Memories, their story is finally told. Directed by M. Angel Rosales, 2016, Spain/Mexico/Portugal/Senegal, documentary, 72min, Spanish and Portuguese w/ English subtitles.
BLACKS MOZART IN CUBA
Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), became one of the most remarkable figures of the 18th century. He influenced the music and political life of his time. He was a genius composer and conductor, a virtuoso violinist, the best fencer in Europe, as well as the first black general in the French army.
Directed by Steve James, Stephanie James, 2008, 52 min, Guadeloupe, Documentary, English, French, Spanish with English subtitles.
URUGUAY / 2005 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 100 MIN
Obdulio is an 11-year-old Afro-Uruguayan boy who lives with his grandmother and sells newspapers for a living while he cannot read or write. Obdulio is not interested in going to school until he finds out that the night watchman of the newspaper's office is a charismatic magical "Maestro" who not only introduces him to the world of literacy but also teaches him the real meaning of life through the lyrics of the "Murgas" (Carnival Pierrots) during the mythical nights of the irreverent and provocative Uruguayan carnival.
With a poetic nod to Fellini, Leonardo Ricagni uses the carnival atmosphere to transport the viewer to a magical place where realism and surrealism live side by side in Uruguay—and what a wonderful place to be. With sweeping directorial vision and gorgeously shot with rich, vibrant colors, A DIOS MOMO achieves a rich visual and spiritual sensibility unparalleled today. – Shaz Bennett AFI Fest 2005
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Nick Hughes
Starring: Jorge Esmoris
Starring: Mathias Acuna
Starring: Washington Luna
DVD bonus film: Candombe
DIRECTED BY RAFAEL DEUGENIO
URUGUAY / 1993 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 16 MIN
More than two hundred years ago, there was an influx into Uruguay of slaves from Africa whom, after being freed, continued to make up the poorest and most marginalized strata in society. Fernado Nunez, a black man, a musician, and a maker of drums, sees himself as the heir to "Candombe", an important social and cultural legacy from his slave forefathers. The official history and culture of Uruguay, on the other hand, which has never acknowledged this contribution to the degree which it deserves, continues to marginalize expressions of black culture. Fernando Nunez and his friends from the Barrio Sur back street quarter of Montevideo have decided to fight to keep these important cultural roots alive in the consciousness of the Uruguayan people.
SPAIN, MEXICO, PORTUGAL, AND SENEGAL / 2016 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUTITLES / 72 MIN
Flamenco is synonymous with Spanish culture. Yet, since its inception, theorists have sidelined the fundamental contribution of Afro-Andalusians to this art form.
Commercial exploitation of the American colonies brought hundreds of Africans to Spain to be sold as slaves, forming a population which, over time, managed to gain space in a society wrought with racial prejudices. Music and dance were a fundamental part of their expression and the most important affirmation of their identity. As the black population began to disappear from Spain in the late 19th century, so too did their contribution to this extraordinary art form. In Gurumbe: Afro-Andalusian Memories, their story is finally told.
"There are a number of musical performances in Gurumbe, but the tone of the film is surprisingly measured, authoritative, and at times something close to academic. As a result, it is highly credible and convincing." - j.b. spins Read Full Review HERE
Kafe Negro tells the story of migrations around a small grain that has become the second most important raw material on the global market. This film tells the story of the waves of migration of Haitian workers who, over time, have profoundly transformed the culture and demography of Cuba and allowed the development of coffee growing on the island.
Directed by Mario Delatour | Cuba & Haiti | 2020 | Documentary | French and Spanish with English subtitles
COLOMBIA/BRAZIL/FRANCE / 2012 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
Tomas,an Afro-Colombian teenager who fled the country's Pacific coast pushed out by the war, faces the difficulties of growing up in a city if exclusion and racism. When Jairo, his younger brother and closest friend disappears, Tomas plunges in the streets of the city. His search becomes an initiatory journey that compels him to face his past and to leave aside the influence of his is brothers in order to find his own identity. Through this journey, Tomas reveals a unique perspective of a vibrant and unstable city that, like Tomas, stands on the threshold between what once was and what might be.
LA ULTIMA RUMBA DE PAPA MONTERO (THE LAST RUMBA OF PAPA MONTERO)
LA ULTIMA RUMBA DE PAPA MONTERO (THE LAST RUMBA OF PAPA MONTERO)
DIRECTED BYOCTAVIO CORTAZAR
CUBA AND MARTINIQUE / 1992 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 MIN
A fascinating film on the rhythmic dance genre known as Rumba, La Ultima Rumba de Papa Montero dances around the life of Papa Montero, one of the famous rumberos of Cuba, assassinated during carnival. A discovery of Cuban traditions and every day life told through beautiful images, sensual music and dance. The use of Afro-Cuban mythology is the force behind the characters as orishas guide the characters' fate.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Nick Hughes
Starring: Eric Bridges Twahirwa
Starring: Cleophas Kabasita
Starring: Davis Kagenza
DVD Afro-Cuba: Yesterday and Today which also includes Sara Gomez: An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker.
CUBA / 1979 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 95 MIN
Maluala takes us into a palenque, a settlement of escaped slaves hidden somewhere in Cuba's eastern mountains, where discord is sown between black "kings" by clever subversives working for the Spanish government.
"Sergio Giral is the best known of the Black Cuban directors and his previous films were historical observations of the period of slavery in Cuba, the gradual rise of rebellion against colonial traditions, and the ultimate freedom that resulted. Maluala is the most striking addition to this genre. The action takes place during the last century in the region of Maluala. Gallo, the black chieftain, together with his cohort, Coba, present a petition for land and liberty to the colonial government. Governor Escudero offers liberty if the rebellious villages will be dismantled and their men offer themselves in surrender. He promises that they will be freed shortly thereafter. Three chieftains agree, but Gallo and Coba refuse... Giral has mounted Maluala with colorful ritual and acting. Samuel Claxton, as Gallo, is highly stylized in the heroic tradition. It is an absorbing adventure film wrought from historical events which appear violent, but Giral constantly implants into every image the necessity for unity among people in order to combat man's seemingly casual desire to subjugate mankind, in the struggle for power and undefined ambition." ~ /San Francisco Film Festival, 1980/
"The historically lucid intrigues of Maluala (1979), where the Afrocentric leadership of fugitive palenque communities is pitted against each other COINTELPRO-style by Spanish colonists, is one of those Cuban films that were forged in a righteous, red-hot ferment but still found the courage and wit to ask questions about the society around them." ~Gary Dauphin, The Village Voice
VENEZUELA / 1989 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 82 MIN
The action takes place in a village on the Venezuelan coast, a place of fishermen and big haciendas. Jose Ramon, son of a white aristocrat and a humble black fisher-women, is trying to define his own identity while dealing with social and sexual conflicts, power, culture, the law, and the impossible relationship he has with both his parents.
CUBA / 1986 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 96 MIN
Placido portraits the dramatic story of Gabriel de la Concepcio Valdes (Placido), a mulatto Cuban poet accused of leading a conspiracy against the Spanish colonial government. Preoccupied by the development of Afro-Hispanic artist and craftsmen of the mid XIX century, Placido was executed after living a short and controversial life as a man between two races and between a cruel reality and a dream of freedom.
PERU / 2015 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 75 MIN
Critically acclaimed Rosa Chumbe is a rare film from Peru where the multiculturalism and multiracialism of Peruvien society is present everywhere.
Rosa is a mature police officer with both a gambling and a drinking problem. She lives with her daughter Sheila, who has a little baby. One day, after a big fight between them, Sheila steals her mother's savings and storms out of the house leaving her baby behind. Rosa is forced to spend some time with her grandson. Something changes inside her heart of stone. However, everything takes a wrong turn one night. Only a miracle can save her.
CUBA AND SWITZERLAND / 2005 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 76 MIN
Sara Gomez, An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker is a rich, multilayered documentary about Afro-Cuban director Sarah Gomez. Born in 1943, she studied literature, piano, and Afro-Cuban ethnography before becoming the first female Cuban filmmaker. A woman of great intelligence, independence and generosity, she was a revolutionary filmmaker with intersecting concerns about the Afro-Cuban community and the value of its cultural traditions, women's issues, and the treatment of the marginalized sectors of society. Through archival footage of her works and interviews with her children and husband Germinal Hernandez, cast members of her best-know film De cierta manera,as well as colleagues and friends, we get closer to a filmmaker who invented new landscapes and brought together opposite worlds.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Alessandra Muller
Starring: Sara Gómez
Part of 2-set DVD Afro-Cuba: Yesterday and Todaywhich also includes The last Rumba of Papa Montero.
COLOMBIA AND FRANCE/ 2003 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 MIN
An entertaining documentary that explores the African culture of Colombia through music. The film presents the music of the Sons of Benkos, one of the most important Black leaders in the fight for freedom during the times of slavery in Colombia. The film also shows the evolution of Afro-Colombian music over time through the fusion of Cuban and contemporary African rhythms with traditional Afro-Colombian music.
PERU ND BELGIUM / 2003 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 54 MIN
Susana Baca is not only a champion in the performance and preservation of Afro-Peruvian heritage, but also an elegant singer whose shimmering voice sings of love, loss and life. Susana and her husband Ricardo Pereira have founded the Instituto Negrocontinuo “Black Continuum” in Lima, a spirited facility for the exploration, expression, and creation of Black Peruvian culture. While Baca has dedicated herself to researching and performing virtually all forms of Afro-Peruvian folklore, it is the lando that has become her trademark. This slow to mid-tempo, highly evocative mix of Spanish, Indigenous and African rhythms has become what the son is to Cuba, or the samba to Brazil--the lando is the sound of Black Peru.
FRANCE / 2013 / FRENCH AND SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 93 MIN
Tango Negro, The African Roots of Tangoby Angolan filmmaker Dom Pedro explores the expression of Tango’s Africanness and the contribution of African cultures in the creation of the tango. Tango was a reflection of the social life of the enslaved Africans that were taken to South America - including Argentina and Uruguay - mostly from central Africa, particularly from the former Kongo Kingdom. Director Dom Pedro reveals the depth of the footprints of the African music on the tango, through this rich movie combining musical performances and interviews from many tango fans and historians in Latin America and Europe, including the renowned Argentinean pianist Juan Carlos Cáceres.
In today’s Ecuador, the black population, the descendants of enslaved Africans, continue to experience strong racial and social discrimination. Yet people in the community still strive to value their specific culture and transmit the rebellious memory of their ancestors who fought for freedom.The Esmeraldas Beachsets out to expose the invisibility of Afro-Ecuadorians and rectify the narrative of the country’s history with the film’s central protagonist, Juan García, who has worked on that project for years. He developed a school book that presents black Ecuadorians prominently since the only Afro-descendants shown in local school books are portrayed next to a marimba and football. The documentary also addresses the 1999 assassination of Prime Minister Jaime Hurtado, the first Black to hold this office.
Directed by Patrice Raynal, 2020, France/Ecuador, 58 minutes, documentary, French and Spanish with English subtitles.
USA / 2017 / ENGLISH AND SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 47 MIN
This latest documentary by the Dean of Afro-Cuban Cinema Sergio Giral investigates the black Cuban exile community in South Florida, since the first wave of political refugees in the 1959 revolutionary aftermath, to today. It tracks its presence throughout the region, and highlights its contribution to Miami's civic culture through testimonies and visual documentation.
In the midst of the Cold War, ten young promising musicians from Mali are sent to Cuba to study music and strengthen cultural links between the two socialist countries. Combining Malian and Afro-Cuban influences, they develop a revolutionary new sound and become the iconic ensemble ‘Las Maravillas de Mali’. New Year’s Eve 2000. Richard Minier, a French music producer meets a former member of the band in Bamako and decides to bring the band back together.
Directed by Edouard Salier and Richard Minier | 2020 | 81min |France, Cuba, Mali | Documentary | Spanish, French with English subtitles
THE VALLEY OF THE BLACK DESCENDANTS (EL VALLE DE LOS NEGROS)
THE VALLEY OF THE BLACK DESCENDANTS (EL VALLE DE LOS NEGROS)
DIRECTED BY Richard Salgado
Chile / 2017/ SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 min
In the Azapa Valley (Chile), an oasis in the driest desert in the world, a group of descendants of enslaved men and women brought from Africa are organizing the first African census in the history of Chile. Their aim is to get official recognition from the State that has concealed their culture and African identity for more than 200 years.