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New documentary film on the 1961 Literacy Campaign

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cinema 3 Comments »

The producers are looking for SoCal venues to screen it in April:

The film features Norma Guillard talking about her coming of age in the Literacy Campaign as a young woman of 15 who left home to work in the countryside as a literacy teacher, una maestra. Norma is a Cuban social and clinical psychologist, a university professor, a scholar and activist. She works primarily on the issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and issues of diversity and identity in a Cuban and Caribbean context, and is one of the first Cuban women of her generation to call herself a feminist. Guillard will be in the US in March and April to publicize this documentary on the 1961 Cuban literacy campaign that organized over 100,000 youth to teach illiterate citizens to read and write. Catherine Murphy produced and filmed the documentary.

For more info. you might download the production notes, or go to www.maestrathefilm.org, to theliteracyproject.org and/or email kathleen.rubin at gmail.com

El Espacio Aglutinador: A documentary-in-progress

art, By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant 2 Comments »

“The Art of Survival” is a documentary in progress on Sandra Ceballos’  Espacio Aglutinador; a space where so many censored and marginalized artists have been able to exhibit for the past seventeen years. It features what seems to be a promising interview with Glexis Novoa, and I look forward to one with Ezequiel Suárez. The documentary director is an artist himself, from New Jersey, called James Rauchman, who has a series of hyperrealist paintings on, among other topics, Cuban santeria. My only objection to this film is the music (not credited: Is that Philip Glass at 7’40? Then Orishas!).Here’s the trailer:

(thanks to Jorge Mata for the link)

Valentine’s Day in Havana. Dinner: 25 CUCs

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Consumption & material culture 1 Comment »

(Thank you to Glexis Novoa for sending it)

Chronicles of New York City Rumba (I)

By Berta Jottar, greater Cuba, music, traditions and folklore 10 Comments »

With this chronicle, EthnoCuba begins a new section, at the care of Berta Jottar, PhD

NYC: Sunday, February 13, 2011; 38 degrees, mostly cloudy.

Rumba is an Afro-Cuban performance culture characterized by its percussive music, dance and song; its main stylistic forms are the Columbia, the Yambú and the Guaguancó. Outside its native Cuba, New York City’s international metropolitan area is rumba’s second home with at least three rumbas open to the public every weekend.

This week, the rumba route begins on Friday, February 11th, at El Fogón Center for the Arts (point A on the map below); an alternative cultural center in the Bronx.

El Fogón’s rumba is ran by “Pupi” Felix Insua, former member of the mythical Cuban ensemble Yoruba Andabo, and current director of Oriki Omi Oddara. At El Fogón Victorian’ style room, the rumba has an international flair and is accompanied by good wine and friendly patrons. It is always a pleasure to see Pupi perform: he distills knowledge at both the kinesthetic and lyrical levels. El Fogón’s is not an open rumba, (a rumba where the amateur musician can seat and play the drum) but a rumba cerrá, a closed rumba where only those privileged musicians who know the rules of rumba and know that si no sabes, no te metas are allowed to participate. In Pupi’s rumba, you can hear the latest trends in rumba warapachanguera –the latest Havana style, both interpreted the Cuban way and recreated in pan Afro-Latino terms.

The Insua family, Pupi and his virtuoso songs (Stanley and Steve), share El Fogón’s stage mano a mano with local young New York City virtuosos, members of professional groups, like Caja Dura and Ilu Ayé, who are fluent not only in rumba, but in bomba and palo as well. Two new voices stand out: Yomara and Yadel; both young women who master the rumba columbia, the countryside style of Congo origin, rarely sung by women.

On Fridays, El Fogón becomes a rumba lab for hard-core rumber@s as well as for those wanting to learn. You know you are at a great rumba when you see Pupi tirar un pie… See the video below:

On Saturday, we continue our rumba journey to La Esquina Habanera in Union City, New Jersey (see point C on the map). Inaugurated by Tony Sequeira, a rafter who arrived to Union City with a vision and “plantó”; La Esquina is the corner where Afro-Cuban culture from both sides of the river meets. Read the rest of this entry »

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