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Cuban Filmmakers Present Works at Film Forum

by Diego Coya
Filmmakers Jorge Luis Santana Perez and Diana Rosa Perez Legó at Montclair State University in 2015. Photo courtesy of Theadora Lecour

Filmmakers Jorge Luis Santana Perez and Diana Rosa Perez Legó at Montclair State University in 2015.
Photo courtesy of Theadora Lecour

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, three filmmakers presented documentaries as part of the weekly Film Forum at Montclair State University. This film forum was slightly different, as it focused on Cuban documentary filmmakers.

The first presentation was from two filmmakers: Jorge Luis Santana Perez and Diana Rosa Perez Legón. Their film, “Quizas, quizas, quizas,” was a documentary about the musical group Golpe Tierra from Madison, Wisconsin. The group is comprised of various Cuban musicians, students and bands in Camaguey, a big town in Cuba. The documentary was about 26 minutes long, and it mainly showed how the band started and how they genuinely enjoy playing music for their audience.

After the documentary was over, the moderator, Professor Roberta Friedman, asked several questions to the filmmakers. A translator was needed since Legón was the one doing most of the talking, and she spoke in Spanish, so one of the students helped translate what she was saying.

The questions involved filmmaking in Cuba, and how it differentiates from filmmaking in the United States. Legón explained that she attended a school that teaches filmmaking for five years, and that she was blessed to have such great professors.

Prior to becoming a director, Legón was an actress. She used to work as an actress in a theater that was for kids. As time passed, the theater was very poor and she could not live off that pay. She transitioned to being a producer by studying production in Cuba. She was telling the forum that it was harder for women to be filmmakers and producers.

Perez then spoke about the technology and how it was not as advanced in Cuba as it is here. However, he said despite all of that, they have a passion for making films and that is what matters to them the most.

Next, the forum showed “The 100 Years Show,” a documentary about an artist named Carmen Herrerra. The film, which was directed by Alison Klayman ran about a half-hour. It showed Herrerra’s daily life as a painter and how her paintings constantly were in exhibitions in New York. Additionally, the film showed that her work started to be noticed when she was about 95 years old, and she had been an artist for over 50 years. The documentary also showcased how, as a Cuban-American artist, Herrera went through some difficulties getting her worked noticed.

After the documentary was over, Klayman discussed her career and how she came across the project. When she met Herrera, she was moving to Tokyo because her husband was going to medical school there. Klayman would visit New York from time to time so that she could get to know Herrera. Klayman was so inspired that she decided to make a documentary about her. She also discussed her other films which have won Sundance awards and been nominated for an Emmy.

The forum was different than usual, as it featured only Cuban filmmakers, but it taught more about the arts surrounding Cuban-Americans and how the filmmaking over there was different as compared to here.

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