Entertainment

Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Filmmaker Celina Escher wanted to capture a historic moment in the Caribbean through the eyes of someone you might not expect. As an assignment from the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV), Escher was tasked with finding a compelling character to cover. Her response was a woman who fought for the Cuban revolution and her excitement for President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in a film titled “Verde Olivo.” CiNEOLA is bringing the short documentary to the U.S. audience to have a peek into this historic moment.

“Verde Olivo” captures one of Cuba’s most historic moments through the eyes of a revolutionary soldier.

Escher wanted to speak to someone from the Cuban Revolution because of the influence it had on her own home country: El Salvador. The filmmaker wanted to see the people who encouraged the guerilla fighters she learned about growing up. Her search led her to Teresa, a woman who fought for the revolution and has maintained her unwavering support for Fidel Castro and his vision.

“When I met Teresa we spoke about her life and the woman’s role in the Cuban Revolution. On one occasion, Teresa mentioned that she needed to repair her television for the arrival of Obama,” Escher says. “It was a historical moment for Cubans, and especially for Teresa who had devoted her life to the revolution. I was inspired by her and it was then I began to film Teresa’s preparation process.”

Escher appreciated that Teresa and her husband were getting their television repaired in order to watch President Obama’s visit. Cubans are known for maintaining old cars and appliances because of the scarcity of stuff available on the island.

“In Cuba, what is broken is repaired. The Cuban people don’t throw away what is broken and replace it with a new one, like most other western consumerist societies,” Escher says. “Cubans found a way to survive and thrive despite the U.S. embargo. In this precarious situation, the Cubans have been forced to be creative, to repair and recycle.”

“Verde Olivo” shows the resilience of some in Latin America to retain socialist ideals.

The documentary, according to Escher, is important to highlight the strength some in Latin America have maintained against “U.S. imperialism.” Despite the U.S. embargo, life has continued to go on in Cuba after the revolution.

“There have been numerous U.S. military interventions and coups d’etat throughout Latin America where left wing leaders have been replaced with authoritarian military regimes,” Escher says. “There are 76 U.S. military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean with the purpose of securing their economic and political interests. It’s remarkable how Cuba managed to survive all the aggressions and violence.”

The civil war in El Salvador is a strong example for Escher. She grew up knowing of the violent civil war the killed tens of thousands of Salvadorans. The civil war was funded in part by the U.S. government and adds to the overall narrative of U.S.-backed coup d’etats in Latin America.

President Obama’s visit was a wonderful experience while on the island.

Escher remembers that the island was electric as the Cuban people waited for President Obama’s arrival. He was the first president to visit the island in decades and created a renewed hope in cooperation between the two countries.

“It was as if a superstar was arriving. The streets of Havana were cleaned, streets were closed for his arrival, and overall the Cubans were very excited,” Escher recalls. “First of all it was the first U.S. President to arrive in Cuba since 1928, and it happened to be the first Black U.S. President. There has never been a Black president or comandante in Cuba which added to the excitement of many Cubans.”

Despite the visit, many of the Cuban people remained frustrated and disappointed with the overall impact. Escher spoke with Teresa, and her husband Orlando, after the visit. The couple has soured a bit on the visit because the embargo remained and Guantanamo Bay remained occupied.

You can watch the full documentary through CiNEOLA here.

READ: Cuban Embassy Reopens. Cigars, Protests and Food Ensue

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J Balvin Opens Up About Concert Nerves And Social Responsibility In New Trailer For ‘The Boy From Medellín’

Entertainment

J Balvin Opens Up About Concert Nerves And Social Responsibility In New Trailer For ‘The Boy From Medellín’

Amazon Prime Video

We’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity since the project was first announced, but we’re finally getting a first look at the upcoming J Balvin documentary, The Boy From Medellín.

J Balvin is arguably one of the world’s biggest stars and so many of his fans have been dying to get a look behind the scenes and into the life of the Colombian superstar. And following the release of the trailer, we won’t have to wait much longer to get the full film.

The Boy From Medellín is almost here and we’re finally getting a sneak peek!

Colombian superstar J Balvin has released the trailer for his upcoming documentary set to debut on Amazon Prime on May 7. The documentary follows J Balvin throughout the week leading up to a massive homecoming show at the Estadio Atanasio Girardot in Medellín, Colombia, in December 2019. 

But what should have been a time of unadulterated joy for the performer becomes something much more complex.

The film is from Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel LandCity of GhostsA Private War), and is is an intimate portrait of J Balvin.

The film shows the real life drama and tumult leading up to one of Balvin’s biggest performances of his life.

Shot entirely in the dramatic week leading up to the concert, The Boy from Medellín offers unprecedented access to “Reggaeton’s Global Ambassador” as he returns to the city of his childhood and struggles to reconcile his personal identity as José Álvaro Osorio Balvín with his celebrity persona.

As the pressure of the approaching concert heightens, he also continues to wrestle with the anxiety and depression that has plagued him for years. At the same time, Colombia itself is in the grips of widespread political upheaval, with thousands of protesters taking to the streets in demonstrations against right-wing president Iván Duque.

Despite his desire to focus on “giving light to the world,” Balvin soon finds himself pressured on social media to take a stand. As the concert grows ever closer and tensions mount around him on all sides, Balvin soon begins to reconsider his responsibilities to his community and redefines his voice as an artist.

Watch the full trailer below:

Watch The Boy From Medellín on Amazon Prime Video May 7th.

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The Rita Moreno Documentary, ‘Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It’ Will Cover the Icon’s 70-Year Career

Entertainment

The Rita Moreno Documentary, ‘Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It’ Will Cover the Icon’s 70-Year Career

Courtesy of MGM

The documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”, will hit theaters on June 18th. As you can probably guess, the film focuses on the indomitable EGOT-winning icon Boricua.

Director, fellow Boricua Mariem Pérez Riera, says the movie will offer a stripped-down, intimate portrait of the real Rita Moreno.

“We always knew that we wanted this documentary to not be just a showreel of her career and how great she is,” Pérez Riera told NBC News.

“When I make or watch a documentary, I want to be able to know that person more than just what I already know, so it was very important for me to go deeper and to understand her as a human being.”

Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Pérez Riera explained that she wanted to make a Rita Moreno documentary because she related to Moreno. Especially to Moreno’s struggles with discrimination and insecurity.

“I related to all she was saying, her stories about discrimination, the insecurities she felt because of the way others perceived her, the complicated love relationships, and the constant need to work three times harder to prove to others that she is worthy,” said Pérez Riera.

Much of the Rita Moreno documentary focuses on Moreno’s struggle against a racist and sexist industry. Hollywood repeatedly pigeonholed and underestimated her.

At the start of her career, Moreno was only cast in roles of ambiguously brown characters. She played Native American, Filipino, Hawaiian, and Thai roles.

“I wanted to turn the parts down, but that’s all that was offered and I had to make a living,” Moreno reveals in the film. “I was kind of stuck.”

The Rita Moreno documentary also features dozens of interviews of Moreno’s friends, fans, and previous co-workers. The list includes Morgan Freeman, Gloria Estefan, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and her “West Side Story” co-star, George Chakiris. Many of them reflect on the impact Moreno made on Hollywood.

Although Moreno has always been proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, she struggled with her sense of self-worth in Hollywood.

“When I went to Hollywood, I really learned where I stood in the world, and it was so sad and frustrating,” Moreno explained in an interview with the LA Times while promoting the documentary.

“There is something so awful about, if you were a performer, asking your agent to submit you for something and the people won’t even see you because they think you’re too Spanish or something. It’s so frustrating and you want to run and knock their door down and say: ‘Look, let me read this scene for you. I’m good. I’m really good. Let me. Watch me. Listen to me.'”

The documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” will hit theaters on June 18th. So mark your calendars!

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