Using the 1964 Russian-Cuban co-produced film "I AM CUBA" as a starting point , SHE WAS CUBA is a video made up of two stories. As the title suggests, the video explores the nature of memory, the time passed and what is left behind.
The first story traces the death (and back to the life) of a Cuban woman who left Cuba and seeked political asylum in Canada. The nameless woman in the video symbolizes Cuba the country, or perhaps the ones who have left their native land to make a new home elsewhere. It is the tale about the experiences of a refugee, a woman of colour, in her new life in a foreign country. It is a tale of exile, adventure, alienation, and the search for dreams, freedom, love and acceptance.
The second story follows the videomaker in his daily accounts of his visit to Havana. It is also the story of his daily struggles and learning to deal with the loss in his life. In a way, the videomaker too deals with his past in his internal exile.
To interweave the two very personal stories, the video borrows footages from various films made in or of Cuba. For a country that has been exploited and exoticized by the entertainment industry and the media, SHE WAS CUBA questions representation, imagination and imaging.
Official selection of 2003 Toronto International Film Festival
Filmed in Digital-8, edited on DV (2003)
Written by Ho Tam
Voice: Nalo Hopkinson, Jon Baturin
Film footage from:
I am Cuba (1964), Buena Vista Social Club (1999),
Strawberry and Chocolate (1994), Letters from the Park (1989),
Portrait of Teresa (1974), Waiting for Fidel (1978),
Hot Times in Little Havana (1998), Havana (1990),
Bitter Sugar (1994), Before Night Falls (2000).