“It was exciting the way we all pulled together”

—Dalton, Traveler

Josh and Tucker at the airport, leaving.

This documentary was initially filmed by a diverse group of Yale University graduate students during their travels to Cuba in May 2002.

Calling themselves the Black Resistance Reading Group, the underdog collective met regularly for over a year to engage scholarly and creative texts about anti-racist politics and culture in the African diaspora. Their discussions led them to consider taking a field trip to Cuba to see these ideas in action. They raised the funds for their trip by organizing a series of events and soliciting support from a variety of organizations and academic departments on campus.

The students were also inspired to film their experiences, so they borrowed video cameras, which they taught themselves to use, and collected more than 25 hours of footage of their encounters with Cuban intellectuals, musicians and everyday people on the streets of Havana and Santiago.

Four years later, the film’s director, who was one of the travelers and is now a college professor, designed a course at Williams College about race and the guerilla tradition of Third Cinema. Undergraduates worked with their professor to complete the film: editing on school-owned equipment until dawn and traveling to Dartmouth College, Yale University and Harlem for follow-up interviews and additional footage.

The way this documentary was made parallels the empowering message of Beautiful Me(s): Finding our Revolutionary Selves in Black Cuba. Its production embodies the gritty spirit of third cinema filmmaking and sheds light on how fresh perspectives may be incorporated into the increasingly popular documentary film genre. The youth involved in making this film created opportunities to cross boundaries and found their own voices in the process.