New Brunswick, NJ–In an event yesterday at the Livingston Campus Center, San Francisco based filmmaker Catherine Murphy spoke to students about her most recent short film project, Maestra.
The film explores the 1961 literacy campaign in Cuba, which mobilized thousands of young highschool students to teach first letters to the largely illiterate rural adult population.
The event was organized by professor Kathy Lopez and sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies and the Center for Latino Arts and Culture.
The 33-minute documentary focuses on the experience of nine women who, as young girls, taught during the ground breaking campaign. Through present day interviews of them in their homes in Havana, archival film footage and still photos, we look at this moment and how it changed their lives as women.
The film is narrated in English by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alice Walker and features Spanish-language interviews (with English subtitles) with nine of the women who taught in the Campaign. Among those interviewed, the film features Norma Guillard, who is one of the first Cuban women to call herself a feminist, and Diana Balboa, one of the first open members of Cuba’s LGBT community and an international advocate for gay and lesbian rights. Both women were just 15 years old at the time of the Campaign.
Murphy spent much of the last twenty years working in Latin America. She lived and worked in Cuba in the 1990’s, earning a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Havana. Currently, Murphy is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and founder/director of The Literacy Project, a multimedia documentation project on adult literacy in the Americas.
For more information about the film, please visit: www.maestrathefilm.org/.