Afro-Cuba: Yesterday and Today [DVD]

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Sara Gomez: An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker
Many have reflected on the tragedy that befalls global culture when a brilliant film artist, such as the directors Larisa Shepitko or Jean Vigo, or the actor John Cazale, dies young. This certainly applies to the Cuban filmmaker Sara Gómez; born in 1943, dead from an acute asthma attack in 1974 at the tender age of 31, Gómez turned out merely one feature and a handful of documentaries, but the brilliance of her collected works speaks volumes about unfulfilled promises. She spent much of her career working in the ICAIC (Cuba's film board) as an assistant to giants including Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, then began working on dazzling nonfiction films that reflected with great poignance and wisdom on the socioeconomic reality of Cuba. Her sole feature, the 1974 De cierta manera, combined documentary and fiction in a way that few efforts have done before or since. Sadly, this helmer remains largely unknown outside of Cuba; with Sara Gómez: An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker, director and Gómez scholar Alessandra Muller attempts to change this. The effort charts her career and incredible accomplishments, explores the sociocultural and gender-centric themes of her films, and interpolates fond recollections from family, friends and colleagues about her stunning abilities and ingratiating spirit. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

The Last Rumba of Papa Montero
Cuban history and culture weaves its way through this true-life story of one of the nation's most popular rumba dancers, Papa Montero, who was assassinated during carnival. Using documentary footage as well as staged re-creations, director Octavio Cortázar links Papa Montero's passing to the death of an era in the country. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi

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