Despite occasional signs of thawing, relations between the U.S. and Cuba have remained frosty for the past half-century. This week, however, four of the island nation’s premier women writers and directors arrive stateside for the inaugural Cuban Women Filmmakers U.S. Showcase, a traveling exhibition highlighting the depth and diversity of their work and that of their peers.
The four representatives are Marina Ochoa, a filmmaker and the head of the nonprofit Cuban Women Filmmakers Mediatheque; Gloria Rolando, an Afro-Cuban documentarian; Milena Almira, a feature filmmaker; and Claudia Rojas, a well-known stage and screen actress turned director.
Organized by the mediatheque and the like-minded U.S.-based nonprofit Women in Film, as well as the state-run Cuban Institute of Cinematic Arts and Industry, the showcase includes work by emerging and established filmmakers.
“What’s interesting about the work that’s being showcased is that it’s a body of work by women of various ages,” said Ruby Lopez, co-chair of the Women in Film International Committee. “Some are just starting their career, and some have been doing this for decades.”
The showcase began in Southern California on Thursday afternoon with a program of short films and a Q&A; with the visiting filmmakers at the Brooks Institute in Ventura.
The main event is a screening and Q&A; at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Friday night, which will be held in celebration of International Women’s Day and will also feature an after-party with Cuban cuisine and live music. The program of shorts includes documentaries by Rolando, Ochoa, Rojas and Marisol Trujillo; animated films by Ivette Avila and Yahanara Mauri; and narrative work by Almira and Adriana F. Castellanos.
Screenings and panel discussions will also be held Saturday afternoon at Sunset Gower Studio in Hollywood and Monday evening at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The showcase will then move on to New York and Miami.
For more information on the showcase, go to www.wif.org/cuba.