This short film looks at two Cuban immigrants (my grandparents) as they recall their stories of exile from Cuba following the 1959 revolution.
The film was part of my honors thesis “Translating the Past, Writing the Self,” which I submitted for my BA in Literature and Spanish Language and Culture. The critical portion of the thesis examined how individual writers and artists from communities with histories of political upheaval and displacement reconstruct inherited memories through narrative media. I analyzed texts and films that grapple with these issues, including Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée, Michael Ignatieff’s The Russian Album, and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film Surname Viet, Given Name Nam. My chapter “Mediation & Authenticity in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée” was published in the Spring 2011 issue of Metamorphosis, the interdisciplinary journal of undergraduate research and creative activity run by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC).
In conjunction with my textual analysis, I produced an oral history-based documentary titled Un Pedacito (A Little Piece) in order to learn about intergeneration narrative production through hands-on practice. To achieve this, I supplemented my standard literature coursework with tutorials in visual anthropology and translation, designed in collaboration with faculty mentors. This combined literary and ethnographic process revealed how the aesthetic forms of these texts—in some cases relying heavily on fragments, repetition, or self-referential narration—betray the instability of authorship and the mediating role of language when reconstructing lived experiences.