WASHINGTON, DC, 19 September 2012 — Cuban filmmakers visiting American University (AU) sit in on my Backpack Documentary class late Wednesday. Maria Elisa Perez (in foreground with orange sweater) and Duniesky Canton Fernandez (opposite on left) screened their film, “Solar del 11,” about a public housing unit in Havana, Cuba. The film addresses one of the three chronic ills of Cuban society, which are housing, food and transportation.
Winners of a documentary competition sponsored by American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS), the Cubans are visiting the United States for the first time to screen the documentary. This trip marks the first time either of them has visited a foreign country.
They made “Solar del 11” during a Backpack Video Journalism Workshop that I conducted at the Advanced Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana during fall semester 2011, when I accompanied a group of AU Abroad students studying in Cuba, and taught my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” course. CLALS Director Eric Hershberg funded the workshop with a grant from the Reynolds Foundation.
Above, joining my class was former student Erin Finicane, on far left, who came to share her documentary about a housing project near Logan Circle.
Above, the class watches the Cuban film.
(Photos by Esther Gentile.)