Taken from the IPS Cuba website

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This personal project of Myrna Padrón runs parallel to the Casa Tomada Mirarte initiative, an autonomous community space in her family home in the Marianao neighborhood, where she combines artistic expressions and neighborhood actions.
Photo: Jorge Luis Baños/ IPS

Making visible the life stories and realities of Cuban women of African descent is the objective of a series of short audiovisual films conceived by activist Myrna Padrón, from the Casa Tomada Mirarte project, who is making her debut as an audiovisual director.

This exercise, which is part of an online workshop on audiovisual production and editing, will make it possible to illustrate in seven-minute materials several stories that respond to her Afro-feminist activism, Padrón told IPS Cuba.

The first capsule of the series dedicated to these women in different fields, she explained, will be devoted to a Cuban mother, her career, her relationships and her social ties.

A second, currently in the making, will reflect the life and work of Yanet Díaz, known as La Faraona, creator of the first female rap group Instinto, also considered the one that first took the stage in Cuba, in 1996.

“Maybe there were other women doing rap at that time, but they were the first to take the stage as a group,” she said.

A third capsule would be dedicated to the so-called jineteras (popular name for prostitutes) of the 80s and 90s, for which she has already contacted some people who have agreed to offer their testimonies.

The purpose of the activist is to investigate and make visible “what is happening with these women, what they do now, how they felt, what were their assessments, what influences they had in the economy of the 80s and 90s and what is happening in their lives after so many years”.

Of course, it’s not just about their stories, but “we want to delve into archival materials, the context of the time from the press, research at the neighborhood level, interviews,” he added.

To that end, they have contacted people at the José Martí National Library and radio stations, and Padrón aspires to “give other points of view as well, those of people who were decisive at the time”.

Not content with that complex subject, the new filmmaker has in mind an audiovisual dedicated to caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or senile dementia.

“I was a caregiver for my parents with these ailments and I know the hard experience of caregiving. Above all, I speak in feminine, because most of the caregivers are women,” she said.

In addition, “it will have a differential approach because, according to research, this degenerative disease is almost always associated with hypertension and in the population of African descent, hypertension is something very marked”.

On the other hand, “from the economic point of view, black women almost never have the possibility of being able to pay a caregiver or a nurse, and they must assume this task. That is why I advocate a differential approach,” the activist commented.

This personal project of Myrna Padrón runs parallel to the initiative Casa Tomada Mirarte, an autonomous and community space in her family home in the Marianao neighborhood, where she combines artistic expressions and neighborhood actions to educate about respect for sexual diversity, gender identity and the Afro-descendant legacy.

“When I do something artistic or personal, I am Casa Tomada Mirarte, the abode of my family, friends, artists and activists,” says the new filmmaker, who has among her paradigms Afro-descendant predecessors in the audiovisual world.

“Of course we are talking about film director Sara Gómez (1942-1974, recognized as the first Cuban woman to direct a fiction feature film), and Gloria Rolando (1953, filmmaker and screenwriter),” she emphasized.

“I would like to be a great filmmaker, I love editing, but more so filmmaking. I have worked for more than five years with artists in the plastic and visual arts, as a promoter and curator, and one has those influences,” she added.

However, without being attached to idols, she has other great paradigms: Charles Chaplin, Michael Jackson and Cuban film director Enrique Colina, who died last October.

“The European teachers of the online workshop sometimes do not understand that we use a character, who talks about one thing and then another, we include a song associated with what you want to say, with that sparkling language that some of our songs have. Colina did that masterfully,” he says.

She doesn’t know exactly when her interest in audiovisuals began, but she thinks it was long before the filmmaking workshop.

“I think since I was a child. I was born into a very adult family and I was practically raised by my older sister, Rosita, who was already 30 years old and was always a television fanatic. So, she used to watch those Argentinian and Mexican movies, which was the most popular thing to watch, and the program La Comedia silente,” she recalls.

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