Past Events

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Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 3 Brings POV Executive Producer Simon Kilmurry to Cuba

The Americas Media Initiative organizes groundbreaking U.S. documentary film tour; PBS’s award-winning documentary series POV to tour Cuba for the first time, April 5 - 14, 2014

For the third year in a row, a U.S. documentary program will tour Cuba. Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 3, which takes place April 5-14, 2014, will bring Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer of PBS’s award-winning POV (Point of View) television series, to Cuba. He will do a presentation about several of the Latino films that have aired on POV and screen the new POV film GETTING BACK TO ABNORMAL. Alexandra Halkin, Director of the Americas Media Initiative (AMI). The Cuban organizational counterpart providing the logistical support is the Young Directors Film Festival (Muestra Joven), based in Havana. The tour will begin with a presentation by Mr. Kilmurry at the Young Directors Festival and then Ms. Halkin and Mr. Kilmurry will travel to the Isle of Youth and Pinar del Rio, where they will screen GETTING BACK TO ABNORMAL and engage in Q&A sessions with Cuban audiences. For more information

 

Cuban Filmmaker Marilyn Solaya to Tour US, Fall 2013

hosp026-1Ms. Solya has had a unique trajectory in Cuban cinema, starting out as film actress in films such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea y Juan Carlos Tabío’s, renowned, Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate) and then returning to film school to study Directing. Ms. Solaya presented her award winning documentary feature, In the Wrong Body (En el cuerpo equivocado) at US universities, film festivals, and community centers throughout October 2013.
 
In the Wrong Body tells the story of Mavi Susel, who underwent the first gender reassignment operation in Cuba in 1988. In the Wrong Body explores such timely issues as the meaning of femininity in the macho and patriarchal society in Cuba where many stereotypes and prejudices still exist. Mariela Castro, Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) was a primary consultant on the film. The film was produced as part of the Latin American DocTV initiative.
 
In the Wrong Body (En el cuerpo equivocado), 55 min., 2010, Spanish with English subtitlesAlamar029

 

 

 

Photographs from U.S. tour with Marilyn Solaya

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Film Screening: July 17th. Screening of Cuban Film "Major Leagues?at 8th Floor Gallery, NYC, Introduced by AMI Director, Alexandra Halkin

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Be introduced to the members of the Cuban National Women’s Baseball Team as they discuss their passion for their sport and the trials and tribulations of participating in Cuba’s national past-time in a society filled with machismo, prejudice and daily hardships. The older generation of women who participated in the League in the 1940′s talk about the sexism they dealt with and how generation after generation, women still face the same attitudes from men about their participation in the sport.

(27 min. 2008, Spanish with English subtitles)

 

ImageAMI organizes Closing Distances 2, US Filmmaker Minda Martin to tour Eastern Cuba

The Americas Media Initiative organizes ground breaking U.S. documentary film tour in Eastern Cuba, May  17 – 24, 2013

Burlington, VT – For the second time in less then one year, a U.S. documentary shorts program will tour Cuba. Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 2 will feature the films of U.S. filmmaker, Minda Martin. The tour is organized by Alexandra Halkin, Director of the Americas Media Initiative, a Burlington, VT based non-profit that works with Cuban filmmakers.  The Cuban organizational counterpart providing the logistical support is the Young Directors Film Festival (Muestra Joven) based in Havana. Ms. Halkin and Ms. Martin will screen Martin’s films and engage in Q&A sessions with Cuban audiences in the towns of Bayamo, San Pablo de Yao based in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, Guantanamo, and Baracoa.

Minda Martin is an award winning experimental documentary and narrative filmmaker. Her films, including The Long Distance Operator (2012), Free Land (2009), Monsoon St., ¹77 (2006), and a.k.a. Kathe (2000) have screened at international and competitive venues including the Locarno International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Vienna International Film Festival, Buenos Aires International Film Festival, among others.  

Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 2 will present two of Ms. Martin’s films, FREE LAND (2009) and Mother’s Heritage (1995). As a child, filmmaker Minda Martin's life was one of poverty, constant relocation and even homelessness. FREE LAND incorporates found footage, historical documents and personal interviews as she traces her family's history through the forced Cherokee relocation in the 1800s. What emerges is a challenging, heartbreaking and visually arresting documentary that draws unsettling parallels between land, history, Cherokee culture and American identity. Martin creates a unique cinematic landscape that conveys the trauma of displacement and the reality of poverty. Mother’s Heritage tells the story of Ms. Martin’s mother’s untimely death: she was accidentally shot by one of her brothers.  In her absence, her story is told through recollections of family members who discuss the many challenges she faced during her life.

 

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DOCUMENTARY FORTNIGHT 2013:

MoMA's International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media

NEW CUBAN SHORTS -
Co-organized with the Americas Media Initiative

Friday, February 15, and Saturday, February 16

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AMI October 2012 Tour with Cuban Filmmaker, Karel Ducasse

AMI organized a U.S. university tour for 32 yr. old Afro-Cuban filmmaker Karel Ducasse. AMI is distributing Karel’s important documentary, Zone of Silence, about artistic censorship in Cuba. We recognize the value of making space in the U.S. for emergent and critical Cuban voices in the arts and for these Cuban filmmakers to receive feedback about their work outside of Cuba. Karel engaged in lively discussions with students at Hamilton College, the University of Vermont, and Champlain College and during two presentations with the general public at the Vermont International Film Festival. This was Karel’s first trip outside of Cuba and at the end of his visit he saidI’m another person after this trip, it has changed my life…”

 

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Gloria Rolando participating at the Flaherty Seminar, June 2012. AMI Collaborates with the Flaherty Seminar, June 2012
Last Spring AMI assisted the Flaherty Documentary Seminar in bring three Cuban Filmmakers from Cuba to attend the Seminar. The Cuban filmmakers were: Gloria Rolando, Gustavo Pérez and Gilliam de la Torre. This was the first time that the Seminar had filmmakers living in Cuba attend the Seminar. AMI assisted Flaherty in procuring the funding, US visas and travel for the filmmakers. AMI Director, Alexandra Halkin also received a LEF Fellowship to attend the Seminar. The Ford and Reynolds Foundations supported the expenses for the Cuban filmmakers to attend the Seminar.

Links to interviews on Cuba Art News with Gloria RolandoGustavo Pérez and Gilliam de la Torre:

Gloria Rolando participating at the Flaherty Seminar, June 2012.
 
 
 
 

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For the first time, U.S. documentary shorts program toured Cuba visiting five towns, organized by the Americas Media Initiative and The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film, March 25 – April 8, 2012

For the first time, a U.S. documentary shorts program toured Cuba. Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias is organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator at The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film and Alexandra Halkin, Director of the Americas Media Initiative, a Burlington, VT based non-profit that works with Cuban filmmakers. The Cuban organizational counterpart providing the logistical support is the Young Directors Film Festival (Muestra Joven) based in Havana. Ms. Halkin and Ms. Berger will screen the program and engage in Q&A sessions with Cuban audiences in the towns of Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Holguin, Gibara and Havana. The films will be presented at the end of the tour at the Young Directors Film Festival in Havana.

The goal of Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias is to screen a selection of U.S. documentary short films that present unique and diverse local U.S. experiences to a wide Cuban audience that has very little information about the U.S. and, through cultural exchange, to increase understanding and foster dialogue between U.S. and Cuban citizens.

Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias is made up of four documentary short films and one animation short. Two of the documentaries, Sara Neeson’s Poster Girl (2010), about a young female American vet sent to Iraq who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, and Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday’s The Barber of Birmingham (2011), about 85 year old James Armstrong, a foot soldier in the civil rights movement of the 60’s. Both films were nominated for Academy Awards in the Documentary Shorts category. Other films in the program are Jesse Epstein’s Wet Dreams and False Images, a Sundance award-winning documentary that uses humor to raise serious questions about the commercial marketing of false illusions about female physical perfection, and Anthony Weeks’s Housekeeping, about a migrant hotel housekeeper’s meditation on her life and the lives and habits of the people for whom she works. Miss Devine, directed by the Rauch Brothers, is a short animation based on a StoryCorps conversation between cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson who recall their fearsome Sunday school teacher, Miss Lizzie Devine.

 

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AMI – Cuba Media Project - East Coast Tour
Fall 2011 October 26 - November 7 with Award-Winning Cuban Documentary Filmmaker, Rigoberto Jiménez

As part of AMI, the Cuba Media Project’s mission is to showcase Cuban independent and community media and to introduce noteworthy Cuban filmmakers to audiences in the United States. With this in mind, we are proud to have brought award-winning Cuban documentary filmmaker Rigoberto Jiménez to the United States in the fall of 2011.

Rigoberto is one of the founders of the community media project TV Serrana, which is based in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains. He is currently engaged in the pre-production of his first feature film, On the Riverside, a work of fiction based on his documentary The Four Sisters. The sisters, who never married, have lived together all their lives in the Sierra Maestra. (See below for a clip of The Four Sisters.)

The Four Sisters (excerpt) Rigoberto presented his documentaries at the Vermont International Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City and universities in Vermont, Massachusetts and New York City between October 25 and November 7. This was the first time Mr. Jiménez visited the US. Organized by Burlington-based Americas Media Initiative—Cuba Media Project, whose mission is to present Cuban filmmakers in the United States, and, through cultural exchange, increase understanding and foster dialogue between US and Cuban citizens.

Mr. Jiménez presented his documentaries and some of the work of International Film and Television School (EICTV) at the Vermont International Film Festival, October 27 and 29. Afterwards he screened his work at the University of Vermont, Clark College, Middlebury College and at Dartmouth College. His presentation was part of the New England Council of Latin American Studies Conference. Mr. Jiménez ended his tour as part of the Modern Monday Series at The Museum of Modern Art on November 7th.

Rigoberto Jiménez graduated with a degree in Literature from the Eastern University in Santiago, Cuba. Mr. Jimenéz joined TVS, when it emerged in 1993—in the middle of Cuba’s most severe economic crisis—helping to create a unique community video project deep in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Founded with funding from UNESCO and support from the Cuban government and the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), TVS is the first community and participatory television project in Cuba, and is unique in Latin America. Mr. Jiménez has produced the majority of the documentaries on which TVS’s reputation is based, and his work has received many national and international awards.

In 2004, Mr. Jiménez won the prestigious Caracol Prize for his screenplay for On the Riverside a feature fiction film based on his 1997 documentary, The Four Sisters about four sisters who never married and have lived together since birth on their isolated farm in the Sierra. Mr. Jiménez has also worked on documentary productions outside of Cuba, with indigenous communities in Honduras and Argentina and has collaborated with UNICEF on productions about childhood and community work in Cuba. Mr. Jiménez currently runs the First Year Program at EICTV outside of Havana.

Mr. Jiménez traveled with Alexandra Halkin, a documentary filmmaker and Founding Director of the Americas Media Initiative—Cuba Media Project. Ms. Halkin, a Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow, has been working on documentary projects in Cuba for nearly two decades. Ms. Halkin is also the Founding Director of the Chiapas Media Project, a media initiative that works with indigenous communities in Southern Mexico. The Americas Media Initiative—Cuba Media Project is a new organization focused on the distribution of Cuban independent and community media in the United States.

VTIFF Cuban Showcase 1- October 27

VTIFF Cuban Showcase 2- October 29

MOMA presentation November 7

Recent Interview (in Spanish) with Rigoberto Jiménez in La Gaceta de Cuba, 2011

For further information please contact us by email.

Rigoberto Jiménez’s Documentaries:

Rigoberto Jiménez’s Documentaries

The Infinite Island (La Isla Infinita) Director: Rigoberto Jiménez, Spanish with English subtitles, 2011

Rigoberto Jiménez’s Documentaries

 

 


Lookout at TV Serrana in the Sierra Maestra mountains

Americas Media Initiative (AMI) – Cuba Media Project announces the release of five new Cuban independent documentary productions. The documentaries cover subjects such as Santería, racism, censorship and campesino life.

Americas Media Initiative’s mission is to produce, distribute, and screen video and film made in the Americas by independent filmmakers and community media organizations. Through public screenings at universities, cultural institutions, community media organizations and film festivals, our goal is to broaden the US audience’s understanding of issues faced by marginalized populations in our hemisphere and to encourage further investigation through cultural exchange.

For further information contact us at info@americasmediainitiative.org