Women as filmmakers within the Cuban cinema have had very few representations during the first years of the creation of the Cuban Institute of Arts and Cinematographic Industry. The director Sara Gómez was the first director of the Cuban revolutionary cinema, but her premature death deprived the national filmography of a sharp and critical look at themes that have not yet had sufficient visibility in our society.
Gloria Victoria Rolando Casamayor, better known as Gloria Rolando, has been one of the most active film directors in the last thirty years of the ICAIC and it can be said that she has been a continuator of some of the themes of Sara Gómez’s work. Gloria Rolando was born in Havana on April 4, 1953 into a humble family. She graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in Art History and went on to work for ICAIC. This would be the starting point for the subsequent definition of Gloria Rolando as a filmmaker. There, she received postgraduate courses that strengthened her interest in Caribbean themes. From her experience in the filming, she will be assistant director and collaborator of notable filmmakers such as Santiago Álvarez, Bernabé Hernández, Santiago Villatuerte, Rogelio París and Enrique Colina, among others, in documentary filmmaking; and in fiction she will be the assistant director of Pastor Vega (Habanera), Sergio Giral (Maluala) and Manuel Herrera (No Saturday without Sun). Their documentaries and short films show Cuba’s complex racial fabric of different edges and are an important reference point when it comes to addressing these issues from the standpoint of artistic creation. Gloria Rolando, is a true pioneer and specialist in this subject and a very brave woman because approaching or talking about these issues in the hard nineties of the past century was a path full of thorns. At this time, everyone is talking about the racism that exists in Cuba, about the Afro-Cuban identity, about the elements of popular religiosity with an African matrix and about all the historical facts where the culture of black Cubans is present.
Gloria Rolando debuted as a director in 1991 with the documentary Oggún: an eternal present. This material is a dialogue with the unforgettable Lázaro Ross, National Music Award 2003. In the film, the life story of this folk music singer is joined by a Wemilere, which shows the different interpretative facets of this musician. In “Oggún: an eternal present” it is necessary to indicate the recreation of one of the patakies that unite the figure of Ochún and Oggún like an element within the direction of art that gives an important creative flight to the message that the director wishes to transmit, because she realizes the importance that has the orality within the Afro-Cuban world and its different cults.
She had her greatest recognition in 2010 with the documentary series 1912 Voices for a Silence. It is an investigation that she carried out for six years about the Independent Party of Color. The series consists of three documentaries that reflect the emergence, development and decline of the Independent Party of Color through the voices and research of different scholars. It constitutes an introduction to this controversial subject of the Afro-Cuban resistance struggle, the trajectory of the black movement in Cuba from the colonial period until the establishment of the Republic in 1902 and shows the powerful discourse of its director, where she dignifies the black within the Cuban society. Voces para un silencio pretends to be the hidden voice of the facts of the so-called “Warrior of the Blacks” that was a true massacre of many innocent people during the events of 1912. The filmography of this director consists of more than ten works, where the documentary is the main element but she has also made a short fiction film.
Gloria Rolando Casamayor, with her work has dignified the black person within the Cuban culture, breaking with the sweetened image and the pseudo-folklorist elements that have been built throughout Cuban history. His documentaries are an important weapon of denunciation against the racism present in our society and that survives in cultural patterns that become traps in memory. His work is also an inexhaustible source in which one can drink in order to instruct the youngest ones about facts and figures of history that do not appear in the ecured, wukipedia or in the texts used by the education generation for the teaching of the History of Cuba. In spite of its colossal work for a social good, it is a complete unknown for many filmmakers in the world of documentaries, especially for the youngest ones. It is a worrying issue because Gloria, with the mastery obtained in the making of these audiovisual products, can be an important reference for those who are educated in the art of audiovisual communication media. In spite of the many setbacks she has experienced, she has always been a humble worker of the culture of our country. Outside Cuba she is very well known to the point of being the first filmmaker to be part of the North American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an award that recognizes her years of dedication to just causes where the fight against racism and exclusion is a fixed issue in her work.