On my films I always have turn the camera point of view to the background, where slaves, maids and working class Black characters traditionally move along. From “The Other Francisco” that tells the impossible love story between two Black slaves; “Slaves Hunter”, “Maluala” and “Placido” that count the ordeal of Blacks and mestizos in search for freedom and equality in Cuba 19th. Century; “Maria Antonia” portraying the tragedy of a “mulata:” in Cuban Republican times; “Glass Roof” that denounces the privileges of white workers in a Socialist Cuba with a 60% of Black and mulatto population; to a more recent film “Two Times Ana” depicting the dreams and reality of a “colored” market cashier in Miami, my films have intended to contribute to unveil this invisible color on the screens.
OTHER FANCISCO. Cuba. 1974. 96 min.
A portray of the first abolitionist novel in the Americas, “Francisco”, by Anselmo Suarez —written a few years before the U.S. publication of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”—to reveal the realities of slavery in a parallel docudrama format in contrast to the romantic depiction in the novel, the realities of slave rebellion are graphically and consistently on the minds and in the hearts of enslaved Africans on Cuban plantations. The film shows the cruelty to enslaved Africans while deconstructing the narrative structures that underpin Suarez y Romero's humanistic philosophy in segments of a historical exposé on the real conditions of slavery in Cuba.
RANCHEADOR (Slave Hunter)(95 min.), 1977
Rancheadores were slaves hunters of the slave-owning colonialists in the Antilles charged with the task of pursuing fugitive slaves and returning them to their owners. Getting paid for his work by using the severed ear of a returned slave as proof of his success. The film is based on the real story of Francisco Esteves, a bloodthirsty rancheador, that not only hunted down runaways but as others of his kind bolstered the power of the ruling class, cutting off the buds of rebellion and thus liberty for all the oppressed, blacks and whites alike.
MALUALA (1980) 110 min.
A tale of discord amongst the 19th Century African run-away slaves known as "cimarrons". Shortly after overpowering their Spanish masters and setting up secret “palanques” settlements in the mountains of eastern Cuba, the cimarrons discover that there are traitors in their midst. The action takes place during the last century in Maluala, the Black chieftain Gallo’s palenque, together with his cohort, Coba, who present a petition for land and liberty if the rebellious villages will be dismantled and their men offer themselves in surrender. He promises that they will be freed shortly thereafter. Three chieftains agree, but Gallo and Coba refuse. It is at this point that Spaniah colonial government decides to use trickery and force in order to destroy the Maluala community, to disrupt their hierarchy and gain total control. These historical events which appear exotic and violent, but Giral constantly implants into every image the necessity force to depict the actual facts.