Search:     WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017
Pam Sporn
2000
Color
57 minutes
US/Cuba
English/Spanish
English subtitles
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Cuban Roots/Bronx Stories

Highlights the experience of a black Cuban American famiy, revealing that the Cuban-American experience is more diverse, racially and ideologically, than we are often led to believe.

This documentary traces the tangled paths and multifaceted identity of a black Cuban family in the Bronx. The subjects of this film experienced firsthand some of the great historical events of the 20th century – they saw Castro’s arrival in Havana and had their neighborhood bombed in the Bay of Pigs invasion; one son fought in Vietnam and a daughter marched against it. Both working-class and professional, black and Latino, foreign and native, Spanish-speaking and English-speaking, the family is shown in the constant process of negotiating its identity. On their arrival in Miami, the family immediately encountered racial segregation, and as children in a mixed Puerto Rican/African-American neighborhood in the Bronx, they were forced by their playmates to choose their identity: “Are you black or Spanish?” Even the family’s roots in Cuba are complex - the grandfather was the son of Jamaican immigrants to Cuba – and their relation to the Cuban Revolution is ambiguous.

The film explores the various experiences that each family member had in dealing with the realities of life as black Cuban-Americans in the Bronx. One son, stuck between his family and the code of the streets, became a drug addict before he found religion. Another became a physician assistant, but his curiosity about his roots brings him back to a Havana very different from the one where he was born, and where he discovers he cannot fit in. The experiences of this one family speak to the larger issues of race, social class, and nation that help to shape the identities of everyday people.

Reviews
"Pam Sporn's documentary leaves us with a lump in the throat, but at the same time the satisfaction of seeing, for the first time, the other facet of the black Cuban who is still trapped in the conflicts of his/her Cuban identity, as if time had not moved."
- Pedro Perez Sarduy, Cuban poet, novelist and journalist

"An important documentary about one family's odyssey in overcoming migration, language difficulties, culture and personal tragedies, to settle in and prosper in the United States… [The film] tells the story of migration from an Afro-Cuban perspective, which is clearly at variance with the story of exile and nostalgia of white Cubans…"
- Linden Lewis, Bucknell University, Caribbean Studies Journal

 
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Higher Education Institutions DVD w/Digital File Sale $325.00
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