Shocking Premiere of Gloria Rolando’s Documentary Series

Now that it premieres, May 23 and 12, May 11 at 5:00 pm, the documentary series heart sisters, this seems like the perfect moment to recognize Gloria Rolando as the epitome of an autonomous, persistent, unstoppable and absolutely indispensable Cuban artist. Because, as a student of Cuban cinema, I have the feeling that this has never been repeated enough: we owe his important documentary work the necessary recognition from critics, cultural institutions and the public.

According to the biographical dossier I found, Gloria Rolando trained as a documentary filmmaker throughout her work as an assistant director with Santiago Villafuerte, Bernabé Hernandez, and Santiago Alvarez. He also worked alongside Rigoberto López (messenger of the gods), Enrique Colina (Wow) and Rogelio Paris (human footprint), in addition to helping directors on feature films such as No saturday without sun (Manuel Herrera) maluala (Sergio Giral) and habanera (Pastor Vega) but she was, in truth, horrified by fiction, with its showcase of resources and its great techno-art teams, and her curiosity and fascination with history, historical, cultural or political reality quickly swayed her towards documentary.

In the late eighties, Gloria Rolando wanted to make a documentary about Sara Gomez and another about Lazaro Ross, the famous Afro-Cuban folk singer. None of them have been accepted by the ICAIC. The one about Lazaro managed to do it, it’s called Oggun, the eternal present (1991), and although he never managed to make Sarah, he was able to approach all of his work. It made an extraordinary impression on her. Guanabacoa: Chronicle of my family (1966), which would mark the work of the future film director in terms of style, her work with photographs, since the curiosity of the film director unfolds from them, and questions like who these people are, how they lived and thought, and all this was shown until the moment when a completely unknown world was discovered.

In a decade like the 1990s, when Cuban documentary films experienced a noticeable production crisis, Gloria Rolando managed to make not only her first film, but also Children of Baragua (1996) rainbow eyes (1997) and scorpion (2000), all documentaries filmed on video with the participation of his usual associates in ICAIC: cinematographers Raul Rodriguez or Pepe Riera, sound engineer Juan Demosten and many others. His first four documentaries developed preferably in an academic setting, at a university in the United States. So, the director began to enjoy popularity with the public and international prestige, when she was still an outstanding unknown for most Cubans.

With the advent of the 21st century, his filmography comes to life and appears the roots of my heart (2001) Marquesses of Atares (2003) and Passages of the heart and memory (2007), which accurately won the Sarah Gomez Award from the National Council of Casa de Cultura at the International New Latin American Film Festival. In this segment of her work, her documentaries demonstrate the healthy process of self-discovery through race, the search for family priority, as an exploration of oneself.

In the words of Gloria, whom I recently had the privilege of interviewing, “the Caribbean issue came up one after the other. Some came from literature. In Casa de las Américas, I discovered that migration was a constant theme in the literary descriptions of these peoples, and I began to look for these characters in modern Cuban reality, their connection with the sugar industry, and some of it appears in the novel. Barbadian writer George Lamming called In the castle of my skin, but I wanted to recreate him in a documentary and talk about his churches, his songs, his customs, his spirituality, which is also largely forgotten in today’s audiovisual material. It’s exciting to discover the spirituality of people, groups of characters.”

Between 2010 and 2013 he worked on a trilogy called 1912: Voices for Silencewon the Karakol award in the Documentary category, and then in Resending (2014) and conversation with grandma (2016), which continue the search for the roots of the African-descended community in Cuba, as well as a documentary series heart sisters, his new documentary, which will premiere at the Cinematheque. Gloria Rolando told me that, for example, in Children of Baraguaand in his other documentaries, he pays a lot of attention to the excerpt and completion of the document, photography, evidence of reality through interviews, but in conversation with grandma fiction works better because it aims to see, to show the spirituality of the characters, although this does not mean that the real, documented part of the real story is avoided, but this reality is viewed through subjectivity and family affection.

As for how his latest documentary series came about and was filmed, heart sistersGloria says: “In 2014 I went to Baltimore, USA to show my documentary Resending. Once there, I began to ask why in my family I always heard the name of this North American city of Baltimore, associated with the Congregation of the Sisters of the Flattened, and that is how I learned, already fascinated by my discovery, the story of the last black Cuban nuns.

“The stories of these women, told by some of their students, are very marked by issues of race and social class, but I was glad to know that they arrived in Cuba around 1900 and here they devoted themselves primarily to teaching and giving lessons to girls who worked as servants to they could learn to read and write. My mother had photographs of these nuns’ night school and so I was able to complete this documentary about some of these black nuns, their forgotten role in the culture of this island, and soon the testimony exceeded the length of a “normal” documentary and I preferred to make a series of three parts or chapters: San Jose School, God’s Brides And memory angels. As you can see, curiosity and charm were at the core.”

Nice documentary it seems heart sisters, the most recent work of Gloria Rolando. Despite the obscurity of her first and important documentaries, nothing could stop her, and she continued to work, not fed by her aversions or resentments, but rather driven by the imperative of working with raw materials as light, but obligatory and concrete, like memory and spirituality.

In haste, the current ICAIC is determined to give Gloria Rolando the honor she deserves, as it is only recently that she has begun to be held in high esteem on the island, even as her prestige grew primarily in the United States, whose universities, some of them very important, have appreciated her documentaries and named her her member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the same one that awards the Oscar). All these are reasons to congratulate her, but above all her dedication, her talent, her devotion to the cause of restoring the memory of all Cubans, macheteros and nuns, men and women, black and white, mixed, as the poet put it. say important.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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