Cuban Women Filmmakers Showcase


Women Filmmakers Mediatheque, the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC) and the American Cinematheque, in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, New York Women In Film & Television, MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center, Women Make Movies, Miami Beach Cinematheque, and Coral Gables Art Cinema, will showcase a selection of short, documentary and feature films directed by Cuban women.  The Showcase includes presentations at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Brooks Institute and Miami International University of Art & Design.
The Cuban women participating in the U.S. Showcase represent the island’s preeminent female directors, writers and actors.  They are award-winning filmmaker and head of the Cuban Women Filmmakers Mediatheque, Marina Ochoa; award-winning Afro-Cuban documentary filmmaker, Gloria Rolando; award-winning feature filmmaker Milena Almira and one of Cuba’s most internationally acclaimed film and theater actresses, Claudia Rojas. 

This will be the first time a group of Cuban women filmmakers travels to the United States to screen their work in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. Screenings and panel discussions are being organized by a collaboration of the most prestigious and proactive institutions that provide an infrastructure for women to grow and excel in the film industry, such as Women In Film.  Ruby Lopez, WIF International Committee co-chair says, “The industry has become a dynamic global community. The Women In Film International Committee mission is to create programming that offers women the opportunity to express and share their voices. Creating this showcase allows for the exploration and expression of multicultural viewpoints that serve to broaden and deepen the art of telling stories through cinema.”

ICAIC, Cuba’s world-famous film institute has a long history of supporting the work of cutting edge filmmakers and producing an unparalleled body of work. Now, with the inception of the Cuban Women Filmmaker’s Mediatheque,  ICAIC is recognizing and supporting the work of Cuban women in the industry. “Cuban women filmmakers have created strong films with significant aesthetic values, that not only raise awareness and inspire action around issues that affect women, but also express a deep penetration into the Cuban culture and contemporary society,” says Luis Notario, Producer/Coordinator of the Cuban Women Filmmakers Showcase and Senior Advisor to the President of ICAIC. “We see this showcase as a unique opportunity to accomplish the long deserved international recognition of their amazing work,” he concludes.

Ellen Harrington, Director of Exhibitions and Special Events for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, says “Over the last three years, the Academy and its International Outreach Committee have been actively working with our counterparts in Cuba, including the ICAIC, to encourage the cultural dialogue between the filmmaking communities in our countries.  It is a pleasure to help welcome these pioneering artists to Los Angeles, much as we have been warmly welcomed on our visits to Cuba. We are excited to build on the current momentum for more creative collaborations between us.”

The U.S. Showcase tour initiates in Los Angeles.  A highlight, on March 8, is an evening event, under the auspices of the American Cinematheque, in celebration of International Women’s Day. Events thus far include:

Friday March 8, 7:30  The Egyptian Theatre
Join us for an evening of documentary, animated and narrative shorts from Cuba’s preeminent female directors, writers and actors. These films make their U.S. debut here before the program travels to New York and Miami:

Marisol Trujillo’s “Prayer” (Oracion, 1984, 9 min.) is a documentary tribute to Marilyn Monroe…and Latin American youth. Trujillo’s classic sets a series of coruscating images to a celebrated poem by Ernest Cardenal (Nicaraguan priest, poet and minister in the Sandinista government, and the subject of a famous papal finger-wagging rebuke). Trujillo’s poetic agit-prop is in the lineage of Cuban master filmmaker and teacher Santaigo Alvarez.

In Ivette Avila’s animated “The Seamstress” (La Costurera, 2010, 6 min.), a seamstress tries to mend the world.

A poet battles writer’s block with violence in Adriana F. Castellanos’ “The Fish Of the Tower
Swim On The Asphalt” (El Pez de la Torre Nada en el Asfalto, 2007, 3 min.).
A writer is trying to make a poem while his son is watching a rated-R movie and his wife is complaining about the unbearable heat. Desperate, he uses violence in order to find inspiration.

Marina Ochoa’s documentary “White Is My Hair, Black Is My Skin” (Blanco Es Mi Pelo, Negra Mi Piel, 1997, 20 min.) salutes 95-year old María de los Reyes Castillo. Four moments in the life of María de los Reyes Castillo (Reyita), 95 years old.  She was born with the Republic, was a slave’s granddaughter and a free womb’s daughter.

Yahanara Mauri’s animated “Itacas” (2009, 2 min.) looks at the island and the man as territories of isolation.

Five kids confront the limits of existence in an old cemetery in Milena Almira’s “Quorum” (2009, 13 min.).

Gloria Rolando’s documentary “Us And Jazz” (Nosotros Y El Jazz, 2004, 44 min.) explores the evolution of jazz in Havana. During the 1940s and 1950s, young dancers from Havana discovered jazz and gathered around it.  At the beginning, that genre in the south of the United States was confluence of multiple styles and ways of making music.  In private houses, black societies and some bars in Havana, people enjoyed what they called jam sessions. (descargas)  Despite the years passed by, some of them stay together, dancing and enjoying jazz and the friendship that keeps them together.

In Claudia Rojas’ documentary “Right to Be” (Derecho de Ser, 2013, 14 min.), Queen Nzinga Maxwell speaks of pain and poetry. Queen Maxwell talks for the first time about her most personal and most painful experiences. In a sunflower field she gets rid of the pain, while she gives the air her poems.

Film Program: 90 min. | Films in Spanish with English subtitles.

Discussion following with directors Marina Ochoa (“White Is My Hair, Black Is My Skin” ), Gloria Rolando (“Us And Jazz”), Milena Almira (“Quorum”) and Claudia Rojas (“Right to Be”).

A “Havana Nights in Hollywood” after party with performer Candi Sosa y Su Sexteto – and Cuban cuisine from Versailles Restaurant! – will follow the discussion in celebration of International Women’s Day and these talented filmmakers. Cameo appearance by Latin Grammy Award Winner Nestor Torres.

Egyptian Theatre   Fri, March 8 • 7:30pm
6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

For more infromation and to buy tickets go to

Two additional Local screenings will be held at USC School Of Cinematic Arts and Filmmakers LA.

New Filmmaker LA at the Sunset Gower Studios March 9 2:00 PM
Celebrating International Women’s Day with the inaugural launch of the Cuban Women Filmmakers Mediatheque

Enter Sunset Gower directly across the street from/just north of this address: 6062 Fountain Ave. Los Angeles CA 90028.

2:00 – 4:00pm SHORT FILM SCREENINGS from the filmmakers of the Cuban Women Filmmakers Mediatheque

4:00 – 7:00pm PANEL: “The Independent Story Finds A Home In Global Cinema: Where Women Are Taking The Lead” and RECEPTION Panel Moderator: Laura Bickford, Producer (Traffic, Che, Arbitrage)

Join Moderator producer Laura Bickford and a panel of the visiting Cuban filmmakers Marina Ochoa, Milena Almira, Gloria Rolandoand Claudia Rojas in a discussion that will explore how American and Cuban women filmmakers are fueling modern global cinema. Topics will include how the two countries see women depicted and the perception of each other’s roles in storytelling. Examine what drives women filmmakers in to bring stories to life and to an audience.  Enjoy meeting the filmmakers at a light refreshment reception.

Julieta Busca A Romeo- Documentary Film Program
Director: Marina Ochoa
Time: 25 Mins. – Country: CUBA
Holguín, Cuba, the 1990s. A group of girls talks about what receiving a letter from abroad means.

Misericordia (Mercy)-Fiction Film Program
Director: Maryulis Alfonso
Time: 20 Mins. – Country: CUBA
A housewife suffocated by her reality, tries to alleviate the misery of stray dogs. One day, she discovers she can also alleviate hers and her family.

Tacones Cercanos-Documentary Film Program
Director: Jesica Rodríguez
Time: 20 Mins. – Country: CUBA
A drag queen from Havana is torn between the ideal and aesthetic world of his aspirations and the crudeness daily life gives him in return.

Mírame Mi Amor-Short Film Program
Director: Marilyn Solaya
Time: 16 Mins. – Country: CUBA
A dramatized documentary, which includes the testimonies of victims and killers, as well as interviews with psychologists and lawyers, on a difficult topic that is not frequently approached in the cinema: exhibitionism, seen as a dysfunction of sexuality and behavior.

Tierra Roja (Red Land)-Fiction Film Program
Director: Heidi Hassan
Time: 18 Mins. – Country: CUBA
A Latin immigrant woman in Europe reveals her desires and frustrations through the letters she writes to her daughter in Cuba.

Espiral (Spiral)-Documentary Film Program
Director: Miriam Talavera
Time: 14 Mins. – Country: CUBA
An approach to a living myth of dance, Alicia Alonso, from the viewpoint of her passion, tenacity and devotion to art.  It includes fragments of the ballet Giselle, choreographed by her, based on the original by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, and of the La Diva (The Diva), choreographed by Alberto Méndez.

Seating is limited If not sold out, tickets will be available at the event at the door.
$10 WIF/NFMLA members
$15 General Admission
A $1 convenience charge is added.
 For tickets go to

Monday, March 11, 7:00pm – USC School of Cinematic Arts Broccoli Theater –

Screening and Panel discussion with the visiting Cuban filmmakers Marina Ochoa, Gloria Rolando, Milena Almira and Claudia Rojas. Free and open to the public.


Susana Barriga, 2007
Documentary-12 minutes
Yubisnel is 22 years old and wants to leave, but has done nothing but repair the same road for the last five years.

El Grito (The Scream)
Milena Almira, 2007
Fiction 3 minutes
A woman and a man are having dinner in a restaurant. Everything seems to go fine, until she gets bored of the usual protocol and makes a comment that will change the course of the night.  It is a reflection on the relations of power.

La Bestis (The Beast)
Hilda Elena Vega, 2007
Fiction  13 minutes
A woman who lives almost in marginality mishandles her small daughter. An elegant, pious woman discovers the girl and wants to give her affection. The other recognizes the intruder as responsible of her terrible past. From that moment on, an uncontrollable thirst of revenge takes hold of her body and soul. A combination of magic realism, eroticism and extreme terror that explore dark spaces of human nature.

A La Hora De La Sopa (Soup Time)
Gretel Medina, 2008
Fiction  6 minutes
A man and a woman, sitting at the table, unleash the miseries of a life of mutual dependence.

Dos Hermanos
Tamara Morales, 2002
Fiction 21 minutes
A Cuban family in the 90’s celebrates her daughter’s fifteenth anniversary. Conflicts will arise between the girl’s father and  brother due to their opposed visions about the realities they face.

Oración (Prayer)
Marisol Trujillo, 1984
Documentary  9 minutes
A homage to Marilyn Monroe inspired by an Ernesto Cardinal’s poem. At the same time, it reveals the situation of most Latin American children.

SCA 112, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007) 

Honorary Hosts: Annette Bening, Laura Bickford, Jackson Browne, Lisa Cholodenko, James Cromwell Isabel Cueva, Benicio Del Toro, Hector Elizondo, Naomi Foner, Brad Horwitz, Penny Marshall, Mike and Irena Medavoy, RickNicita and Paula Wagner, Sean Penn, Shervin and Anahita Pishevar, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Sarandon, Hilda Solis, Oliver Stone, Andy Spahn and Dionne Warwick.

Co-presented by the Women in Film International Committee, the Cuban Women Filmmakers Mediatheque, the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Sponsored by Shangri-La Entertainment, Sean Penn, Brad Horwitz, Shervin & Anahita Pishevar Foundation, Cuba Travel Services, SDI Media Group, Aris Anagnos, Hector Elizondo, Councilman Eric Garcetti CD, Vanity Cosmetics, make-up artist Chelsea Senella, hair stylist Louisa Jovanovic and other generous individuals. Media sponsors are KPFK Radio and

The  Cuban Women Filmmakers Showcase  continues in New York City ( March 13-17) and Miami (March 18-25)

For more information about the WIFI Cuban Showcase 2013 go to


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

Leave A Reply