For Immediate Release
Contact: Chris Mason 412-482-2242
May 17, 2016
Local documentary filming in Cuba in June
Lights! Camera! Cuba! (Pittsburgh, PA) – Local independent filmmaker, Chris Mason, of Spinning Goat Productions is pleased to announce a trip to Cuba in June, as part of a documentary project about long-time Pittsburgh Afro-Cuban band Guaracha. The trip is made possible through an Advancing the Black Arts Pittsburgh grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.
Traveling with the Pittsburgh contingent are the film’s director, Mason, assistant, Brenda Solkez, Guaracha founder Miguel Sagué Jr., and his son and current band leader, Miguel Sagué III (“Cha”). The crew will head to Santiago de Cuba and Havana documenting Afro-Cuban music, dance and culture. “The main theme of the documentary is to present the African heritage evident in Cuban music and culture, in order to provide background and context to the music and dance styles that Guaracha – via the Sagués: Miguel, his wife Lenia, and Cha – brought with them, and continue to share with audiences in Pittsburgh.”
Cuba had the longest existing African slave trade compared with other countries in the Americas, and had a more continuous influx of African slaves brought to the island over time, due to the high mortality rate of slaves working on the sugar plantations. African cultural practices were preserved due to the high concentration of African-born peoples brought to Cuba.1 The Sagué family heritage includes African and Taíno background, and the trip to Cuba will explore their original birthplace of Santiago de Cuba, where the family patriarch, Miguel Sagué Sr. lived, but emigrated from in 1961 shortly after the start of the Cuban Revolution.
The documentary will attempt to present complex and rich African and Indigenous cultures and their effect on identity and expression in Cuba, and in communities outside of Cuba, like Pittsburgh, where this branch of the Sagué family has called home for 40 years. The finished piece will reflect the legacy the Sagués and Guaracha have created and how they share their Afro-Cuban and Indigenous culture with people of all ages and backgrounds, helping to keep their vibrant traditions alive in Pittsburgh.
The documentary will continue production through the summer, culminating with a concert and live documentary shoot at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater on July 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm. The concert is open to the public and will serve as a celebration/reunion party, bringing together the many fans, dancers and musicians who have danced to, played with, learned from, and even fallen in love to Guaracha’s music since the 1980’s.
For more information about the documentary, trip to Cuba, and concert, please visit http://amorguaracha.wordpress.com and the Guaracha Latin Dance Band Documentary page on Facebook.
1 from Race in Cuba by Esteban Morales Domínguez