Introducing Gloria Rolando
Aug - Oct '97
Interview in "Women," Havana
Biography, list of films
Contacting Gloria Rolando
Obtaining Gloria's videos
Afro-Cuban Film Maker Gloria Rolando ends
- December 22, 1996
After a successful tour of 24 cities with over 35 presentations, the Afro-Cuban film
maker Gloria Rolando returned to Havana on December 22nd, 1996. While in the US, she
presented the two videos in her African Diaspora series, "Oggun, Forever
Present," and "My Footsteps in Baragua." Gloria researched, directed, and
wrote the script for both these videos.
Gloria Rolando carried out an extensive tour of the US in which she presented both
documentaries. As Gloria relates, "the oral tradition, the African heritage, the
struggle of Blacks to maintain their identity, are elements in common in these two
documentaries. Their positive reception especially among African-American audiences shows
just how many shared aspects exist among our histories."
Oggun: Forever Present
Gloria has been in the film industry since 1976. From 1989 on, she's worked to develop
her own line of scripts and documentaries as a director. As she relates: "my interest
is in Afro-Cuban culture and the anonymous peoples who belong to the complex history of
the African diaspora. It was not until 1991 that I was able to complete my first film, in
video, under my own direction: Oggun, Forever Present."
This documentary was produced by Videoamerica S.A., a video company with representation
in Havana. From 1992 until now, "Oggun" has been shown in more than 50
Universities and cultural centers in different cities in the United States, where this
film has been recognized for its aesthetic quality and the importance of its testimony
from the African oral tradition.
In 1994 "Oggun" won the Premio de la Popularidad in the Festival de Video
Mujer e Imagen celebrated in Ecuador. More information about this documentary may be found
in an article that Gloria Rolando wrote: " 'Oggun': Proposiciones a traves de un
Video," published in Santeria Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin American Art, edited
by Arturo Lindsay in a collection of the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996. Oggun is
available in the US from the AfroCubaWeb Site.
Imagenes del Caribe: independent video production group
In 1995 Gloria Rolando decided to create the Grupo de Video Independiente,
"Imagenes del Caribe," with the goal of finding an outlet for her work to
continue. The group consists of Cuban television and film professionals/artists. It has
official status under the Movimiento Nacional de Video de Cuba.
My Footsteps in Baragua
Imagenes del Caribe's first artistic production was "My Footsteps in
Baragua," which discusses the West Indian community in Cuba. The documentary is
dedicated to three important Caribbean intellectuals: Nicolas Guillen (Cuba), George
Lamming (Barbados), and Rex Nettleford (Jamaica). As Gloria relates: "Through the
personal stories of these immigrants and their descendants, the film brings to life the
historical process that was common to many sons and daughters of the Caribbean who today
live in the United States, Canada, and England."
I. Promotion of existing works. This includes submissions to film festivals within and
outside the US. AfroCubaWeb Site has promotional copies available for festivals..
II. Production of new documentaries: "Imagenes del Caribe" as an Independent
Video Group is seeking funding to produce the projects described below. Funding for Cuba
based projects will have to come from outside the US, under current law. Funding for joint
projects within the US can be obtained from within the US, an important point given the
A) "My Roots?" Reflections, stories, and images that reveal some aspects of
spirituality, and common roots among Black Cubans and Afro-Americans. As Gloria explains:
"The question mark of the title is part of the debate that this documentary poses in
order to comment on our past and present as sons and daughters of the same continent:
Africa. This idea arose from the trips that I made to the US and my contact with the
Afro-American community. What is there in common in our lives? The language of the drum.
The revindication of our ancestral culture. Paul Marshall wrote something that could be
the guiding light of this project: 'We are people who transformed humiliating experiences
into creative ones.' It is possible that this project will be carried out in collaboration
with Toni Lee, an Afro-American film maker from Atlanta, and perhaps other interested
Afro-American film makers."
B) "Cuba in Tampa" An investigation into the over one hundred years of Cuban
presence in Tampa, with special attention to the figure of Jose Marti. This projects
represents an interesting example of cooperation between Cuban and US film and academic
C) "Shango, en la memoria del tiempo." Myth and reality are united to tell
the story of the King of the Yorubas, master of drums, thunder, and the royal palm. In the
entire Afro-American and Antillean world, Shango is the expression of ancestral struggle
D) "Sarita." On the first Afro-Cuban woman who worked in film in Cuba: Sara
Gomez Yera. Her film "On one way or another" is studied in many North American
E) "Ecos del Antiguo Dahomey." This project has a cultural immediacy: to
document, before they disappear, the last descendants in Cuba of the Ancient Empire of
Dahomey, the current Republic of Benin. In Cuba they are known as "Araras."
Gloria Rolando Casamayor was born in the city of Havana in 1953. She studied Art
History in the Faculty of Arts and Letters at the University of Havana, graduating in
1976, with a specialization in Latin American Art. That same year she began working at
ICAIC (Instituto Cubano de Artes e Industrias Cinematograficas). She thus began her
artistic career in film. Like other Cuban film makers, her preparation was self-taught, in
keeping with the tradition of documentary film as a school, which combines learning with
practice in the production of films.
Gloria Rolando has worked as assistant director on more than 20 Cuban documentaries of
varying themes and styles, including docu-dramas. In her artistic career, she has
collaborated with the noted documentalist Santiago Alvarez ("Memorias para un
reencuentro," "La Soledad de los Dioses," "Historia de una
Plaza"). As a script writer for documentaries in the ICAIC she has been responsible
for the following titles: "Tumba Francesa" (1977), about the history, dances,
and traditions of Haitians who arrived in Cuba after the Haitian Revolution; "Haiti
en la memoria" (1986), on the presence of the Haitians who came to Cuba at the
beginning of this century as Antillean workers; "Tan solo con la guitarra"
(1989), concerning the Argentine artist Maria Luisa Anido, known internationally as the
Lady of the Guitar.
During these years Gloria has worked particularly on a series of documentaries that
have given her a greater knowledge of Cuban culture, as well as bringing her closer to the
rest of Afro-Caribbean culture: "Algo mas que el Mar de los Piratas" (1979),
about the cultural identity of Caribbean peoples (dir. Bernabe Hernandez), along with
other titles related to Cuban matters, and especially with Afro-Cuba: "El viaje mas
largo" and "El Mensajero de los Dioses" (both directed by Rigoberto Lopez).
She was one of the assistant directors in the fictional film "Maluala" by the
well-known Afro-Cuban film maker Sergio Giral. In parallel with these intense activities
in film making, Gloria completed postgraduate studies in Caribbean literature at the
University of Havana and the Casa de las Americas. Her research focused on the presence of
the theme of slavery and emigration in Caribbean literature.
From 1989 on, Gloria has worked to develop her own line of scrips and documentaries on
the African Diaspora in Cuba. In 1995, she formed Imágenes del Caribe, an independent
video group, with other Cuban film and TV professionals.
Phone: (537) 62-79-04 Fax: (537) 33.32.81 -- ICAIC (537) 33.28.09 -- Movimiento
Nacional de Video de Cuba