- August 1st- Cimarrón Spirit will be showing in Toronto August 1st as part of the Caribbean Tales Film Festival 2016. http://www.caribbeantales.ca/CTFF/
- August 7th and 9th— 3rd International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra, Greece. http://www.festivalierapetra.gr/en/
- September 8th -17th, La Villa de los Santos, Panamá. 5to Festival Internacional de Cine Documental Acampadoc. http://www.acampadoc.com
- September 22-25, Gergia Latino Film Festival, Atlanta GA. Cimarron Spirit, Award Winner Best Feature Documentary 2015. http://www.georgialatinofilmfestival.org
Cimarrones in Brooklyn!
To all New York friends and family, Cimarron Spirit will premiere at the Brooklyn Museum on June 25 at 2pm as part of the CaribBEING’s Heritage Film Series. I’ll be there for the Q&A after the showing.Read More »
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor.
Not only are we thrilled to show it in NY for the first time, but I also get to see NY friends and family.
Marquen el Calendario- nos vemos el 25 de Junio.
We presented the film and answered engaging questions from an audience that included filmmakers and others. We also saw very interesting films.
Cinema on the Bayou is documentary filmmaking at its best.
Q&A with filmmakers
With Rebecca Hudsmith, Festival Director
The wonderful Cuban people just rolled out the red carpet for Cimarrón Spirit at the Coloquio Internacional la Diversidad Cultural en el Caribe hosted by the renowned Casa de Las Américas in Habana, Cuba.
Michael Brims and Rubén Durán presented the “first draft” documentary and answered questions from an enthusiastic audience of the Caribbean, the US, Latin America and Europe. We couldn’t have found a better audience to screen our film for the first time. And they loved it!
A heartfelt thanks to Yolanda Wood and the team at Casas de Las Américas for their hospitality and making us feel at home in Habana.
Also, thanks to the Dominican Ambassador in Cuba, Joaquín Gerónimo, and Pedro Ureña Rib, DR Ministro Consejero, for hosting us the evening of the screening, where we shared with fellow artists from the DR, Cuba, and Germany. It was wonderful!
Thanks to María Julia Antuña Acosta for her warm welcome at Escuela Interncaionl de Cine y TV. We received a wonderful reception, and possible future collaborations were part of the conversations while at EICTV.
We connected with many people who share our interests in finding commonalities in Caribbean culture and are helping answer questions of identity. While Cimarrón Spirit is not yet circuit ready, we heard offers of screenings from Germany, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, and Barranquilla, Colombia.
We are now off to NOLA to screen at The Caribbean Studies Association’s 40th Annual Conference. Our colleague and conference presenter, Rachel Afi Quinn, PhD, departed Houston just as we returned so we look forward to exchanging stories over a New Orleans brewed cup of coffee.
Keep your eyes open for a screening in a city near you!
Rubén Durán, DirectorRead More »
In my investigations of Santo Domingo over the years, Xiomara Fortuna appears regularly as an integral part of the vibrant music and arts scene. She has been putting out albums since the eighties, with some of her songs on the early world music albums of Putamayo. Her fusions of jazz, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, rock music (and whatever else she sees fit) have garnered her fans around the world. During our final film production trip to the Dominican Republic this past April, I was able to interview Afro-Dominican singer-songwriter Xiomara at her home. It was truly an honor.
In this this excerpt, you will hear her thoughtful reflections on the richness of Dominican culture and the roots of its cultural heritage that are vital to our documentary and how we tell the story of the spirit of the cimarrón people.
Xiomara was born and raised in Monte Cristi, in the northern region of the Dominican Republic along the border with Haiti. Her exposure to a mixture of indigenous, African, Haitian, and Dominican folksongs at the border has shaped her sound. She reminds us that African culture in the Dominican Republic exists in the land, the music, the bodies of the people, and in the arts and cultural traditions of the present. The title track of her 2001 album Kumbajei (included in the video above) comes out of a childhood song about a little crab, she told me, and the word “cumba” is Congolese in origin.
In our interview Xiomara explained that her first introduction to the traditions of Gagá was while studying with anthropologist June Rosenberg at La Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. These were cultural practices that Catholicism had taught Dominicans to fear. Xiomara went on to draw into her work the cultural richness of the Caribbean and she has had a significant impact on the next generation of transnationally recognized Dominican artists and musicians (Rita Indiana Hernandez, for example). Listen to Xiomara’s song “Baisabi” from the 2000 Putamayo album Latinas: Women of Latin America.
Xiomara brings her thoughtful guidance to our collaborative film project, trusting we will carefully consider how we present the cultural traditions of the island to a broader public, and how we represent communities who have already had so much cultural history stolen and so much lost.
In the full-length interview, Xiomara talks about how so many of the spectacular aspects of the religious traditions of Gagá that we have had the opportunity to witness and record were created to be seen. However, she reminds us, much will forever remain secret from those not inducted into the religion; traditions we do not need to know about, since to reveal them would be a theft not unlike the acts of colonization that continue to shape the lives of Dominicans to this day.
If you make it to the Dominican Republic, visit Xiomara out at her Rancho Ecológico in Campeche or find her at one of her regular engagements at concert venues in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo. And look forward to seeing much more of this interview with Xiomara in our film.
Video editing & composition by Rubén Durán. Interview & blog post by Rachel Afi Quinn. Recording by Michael Brims.Read More »
Ruben projected footage up on the screen while Rachel and I took notes of what our two-year project had so far netted us. We missed Michael but all agreed he shot some gorgeous footage. Taking inventory we noted we have full coverage of Los Negros, Gaga; both urban and rural and Las Cachuas. But it was evident early we lacked Cocoricamo & Las Tifuas and Máscaras del Diablo. It didn’t take us long to decide … we have to find a way to go back, at least one more trip. Easter 2014 is the next opportunity.
One more trip where we have to be in two places at one time. Cocoricamo & Las Tifuas are located in San Juan De la Maguana while Máscaras del Diablo are in Elias Pina.
Lucky for us we discovered a terrific native filmmaker and gave him an assignment to prove himself during Easter 2013. We reviewed Mibsan’s footage of the Catholic celebrations in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo on the big screen. Wow. The kid has skills. In our Colores documentary, we had the opportunity of exposing a couple of master mask makers to a wider population willing to pay for their art. Maybe we can get Mibsan some more gigs but hopefully not during Easter 2014.
Our plan is to add Mibsan to the team and divide ourselves up in the most economical way to cover both groups and locations to finish filming in 2014.
So it’s official. We are returning to the Dominican Republic for Semana Santa (Holy Week) 2014 and we will begin fund-raising and applying for grants very soon.Read More »
There were so many things to see in our trip to the DR, so many exquisite moments to observe. Yet the feeling of a place is hard to describe. While our sense of the visual guided us in our travels, the hundreds (thousands?) of pictures we brought back don’t fully capture our experience. We encountered numerous feelings there as well. As Ruben conveys in his own blog post, there are a zillion stories each of us could tell about this trip. I want to tell a story about the range of feelings we experienced in our travels that inform the film we are making.
This time, I felt more at home in the DR than ever before. I was at ease in this culture I have spent the last 6 years learning from and adapting to (and adopting). I also felt immediately part of a team—joining folks I hardly knew or had just met upon arrival—and we hit the ground running. It being my first time making a film, I went in feeling extremely nervous about being responsible for “doing sound.” I carried that feeling with me the first day or two but soon learned that if I was uncertain about anything I was doing there always guidance and support (and lots of encouragement). I felt part of a team where my contributions were valued; my endless ideas were welcomed. And it was easy to fold my friend Michelle Ricardo into the mix; she joined us for the first part of our trip, went right to work, and quickly became an integral part of the team as well. We were on a road trip together, hopping in and out of our rental car as we traversing the western part of the country, from Elías Piña to Barahona to Cabral. Our team truly came together around a love for the Dominican Republic and curiosity about its culture and traditions. I imagine the people interviewed and met along the way could feel that too.olks I hardly knew or had just met upon arrival—and we hit the ground running. It being my first time making a film, I went in feeling extremely nervous about being responsible for “doing sound.” I carried that nervou
As a team, we marveled at so many shared experiences. Much of what we witnessed and tried to capture on film about gaga and las cachuas (the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the energy of it all) were unexpected and unchoreographed. Whether stopping on the roadside to film a gaga troupe traveling house to house, or visiting the compound of the mambosa La Jeannette for an interview—and having a gut response to the spiritual power of the space—at each moment we felt the experience. Over and over again we would turn to each other and ask, “Did you feel that?” Standing on la tierra de nadie (no man’s land) at the border of the DR and Haiti was a feeling. Recording an interview one clear night inside a circle of youth who were hushed in respect for Cun Cun, the queen of gaga…this too, was a feeling. And we were standing right in the middle of it.
Roaming the Dominican Republic during semana santa was about immersing ourselves in an energy different from any I have known elsewhere. There was a surprise around every corner. Wherever we found ourselves, as we moved through our days, we might suddenly hear drums beating, see the bright colors of gaga, or look up to find mascaras running past. These youth in traditional costumes would appear on the horizon, move past us on the street, and just as quickly disappear again. The nature of the holiday and the many traditions that surround it were clear–cultural traditions of African origin, the synchronicity of present day religious practices, and the interdependency of Haitian and Dominican culture apparent. This story of cimarrón culture revealed itself all around us throughout our trip…like a vibration, a rhythm, and a pulse.Read More »
We came back from Santo Domingo with lots of great stories, footage, and, best of all, newfound friends. A big thanks to those who made our trip possible – this documentary would not exist without your help and the help of the Cimarron people of Elias Pina and Cabral. We are grateful to you.
There are so many great stories that I could tell you about from our recent trip to my beloved Santo Domingo. For example, my encounter with Hilda Maria Perez, the wonderful Cachua elder who has been sewing Cachua costumes with a 50 year old Singer sewing machine for 30 years. Our last documentary, Colores del Carnaval Dominicano, ended with a picture of her, similar to the one I am showing you here. When I was editing Colores, this picture made a big impression on me, and I said to myself, “If you ever go to Cabral, you’ve got to meet this lady.” Upon arriving in Cabral, we set out to find and interview her. My impression of her grew upon our meeting as she was every bit of what I expected her to be – a beautiful human being full of candor and enthusiasm. This, paired with the interview and her ability to sew, made me appreciate her so much more. She was so thankful for what she has and everything she has gotten from being a Cachua.
My encounter with Ramon Ferrera was just as magical. We ran into him by chance and asked if we could interview him. He graciously accepted. It happens to be that he is the oldest living Cachua. He has an amazing passion for the Cachuas traditions. After the interview I commented on how cool and original his mask was. He immediately took it off and wanted to give it to me. It is a Dominican tradition to take something when somebody is giving it to you, and as much as I wanted to take it, I told him that he would need to wear it during the day and that he could always give it to me later. We parted ways and when I saw him again a few hours later he said, “I haven’t forgotten you; I’m a man of my word”. We part ways a second time. Then, towards the end of the day on the way to the cemetery, where the Cachuas say a final goodbye to their ancestors, I see him again, but this time with a different mask in his hands. He signals me to stop, comes over, hands me the mask and says, “I am a man of my word.” I came down from the truck I was in and embraced him, thanking him as I now held the mask in my hands. I know somebody took a photo of us that day, but I have been unable to find the picture. In the meantime, I am the proud owner of a Cachua mask made by the oldest Cachua alive, and I will never forget Ramon, “a man of his word.”
I could go on telling you more stories about the gaga chieftain Cun Cun, or La Jeannette (Jeannette La Hatiana), or even being in the middle of a rural Gaga, the magical rain at the end of the Cachuas celebrations at the Cabral Cemetery, but I will let another team member tell these stories.
We had a wonderful trip and came back with a renewed interest in my roots and the importance of preserving these cimarron traditions. They ARE worth preserving!
Ruben DuranRead More »
We’re looking forward to meeting up with Dagoberto Tejada and Mariano Hernández in Santo Domingo. Once there, we’ll our team and enjoy sancocho with friends and family. The plan is to head out early Thursday morning in order to reach Elías Piña (near the border of Haiti) in time to capture some of the day’s and night’s festivities. It is exciting to get back to the island, to see old friends and make new ones, to visit regions we haven’t seen before, and learn about other Dominican traditions. We’re especially thrilled that so many interesting people have already agreed to be interviewed for the film – this includes a woman chief of gagá chief. More details about this to come (!).
Can’t wait to share with you pictures, footage, and stories of our travels. We don’t yet know what we will find. But we do know we wouldn’t be able to make this journey without all of our many supporters. As always, many thanks for your time (shout out to Ronny Quevedo for your help with sound), for telling your community about our work (yei, Cultura Latina Houston), and for each of you who contributed whatever dollars you were able (so often from one artist to another). All of you make this trip possible and we carry you with us on our journey!
Rachel and the Team
p.s. You think Dominicans on the island will still be celebrating the World Baseball Championship win when we get there?Read More »
[quote style=”boxed” ]Hello Ruben,
I wanted to let you know that the donation you received was from a classroom competition among my Spanish classes. After I received your last email, I showed my students the trailer for Cimarrón Spirit. We discussed the project and each class began collecting change. We enjoyed watching Carnaval again this year and I’m sure that inspired the students to give. Thank you so much for producing these films. As you know, there are few quality cultural videos appropriate to use in the classroom that are less than 20 years old. I appreciate what you do and we are looking forward to seeing the final outcome.
Spanish Teacher, Potterville HS[/quote]