FILM: “CONTRA LAS CUERDAS” (“ON THE ROPES”): Documentary on Cuban society and race, and discussion with filmmaker Amílcar O. Cárdenas

“CONTRA LAS CUERDAS” (“ON THE ROPES”): Documentary on Cuban society and race, and discussion with filmmaker Amílcar O. Cárdenas.

April 21, 2015
6:30p – 8:30p
Room 6496


For decades contemporary Cuban society has avoided facing one of the oldest and most sensitive issues -racial discrimination-.From 1962, less than three years after the beginning of the Cuban revolution, racial problems on the island were deemed officially resolved. For the following almost forty years a period of silence concerning racism masked nationwide reality. During the early 1960 ́s Cuba was wholly focused on fighting anti-revolutionary forces and on maintaining national unity. The issue of racism was stigmatized and removed from public and academic debate, thus becoming taboo. This situation did nothing but advance what it intended to silence. Today, more than a decade after breaking that silence, diverse groups and individuals – black, white, mestizo, Cuban and foreign- are now, even more strongly, re-opening the debate. From within their respective disciplines and perspectives, racial debate on the island is firmly back on the agenda although it remains insufficiently public or institutional.

These individuals are the protagonists of this story, which addresses, in depth, the racial problem in Cuba; a topic that has been barely touched upon in documentary production on the island. They openly name and condemn racism whilst suggesting constructive ways forward. They expose the challenges in the present fight against racial discrimination and place this debate within the context of a radical revolution; where, at its beginning, black people found a significant space -of historical recognition and social legitimization- both nationally and internationally.

Contra las Cuerdas endeavors to show the virtually unknown work of these activists, community leaders, teachers, professionals, writers and artists in the fight to combat discrimination and racism. These groups and individuals are creating their own spaces, with their own alternative initiatives, contrary to persisting institutional resistance.

From this eclectic perspective, this documentary seeks to help us understand the magnitude and complexities of the racial problem in contemporary Cuban society. In a period of clear national transition, which will certainly determine the future of the island, Contra las Cuerdas will hopefully provoke new debate, bringing to public attention the particular case of Cuba and the groups and individuals who are tirelessly working to transform their society.

Amílcar O. Cárdenas is a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Audiovisual Studies.  Has worked extensively in television and music video making.

Sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

This event is open and free to the public. 

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