International Filmmaker Visits Morgan State

Benjamin McKnight III

Morgan State University welcomed Cuban movie director Gloria Rolando on campus for two days of film and dialogue last week to educate students on the African Diaspora.

Rolando showed her historical fiction film “Roots of My Heart” on Monday, followed by discussion of the movie and a short, personal question-and-answer session. The next day, Rolando led an interactive discussion with students, faculty and visitors centered on using the media to improve the image of black people and to share their largely unknown history.

Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, the 61-year-old director never went to film school. She earned her undergraduate degree in Art History and her graduate degree in Caribbean Literature at University of Havana. When one student asked her if she woke up one day and decided to be a filmmaker, she responded, ”I was still dreaming.” Another student wanted to know what her favorite film was out of her twelve projects, to which she said, “I love all my babies.”

As part of her visit, Rolando also extended an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers, historians, or anyone with an interest in Black history to go to Cuba in the spring of 2015. Partnering with the MSU Latin American and Caribbean studies department, she is looking to have students contribute to a new project that has not been titled.

When Rolando opened her discussion session on Tuesday, the first question asked of her was, “How do we maintain our identity as Black people in the media?” Rolando used that to briefly discuss the importance of knowing Black history due to the destruction of the Black identity across many nations in the African Diaspora. She told the audience that her field of work requires commitment and self-confidence in fighting the mainstream and producing the truth.

“You need to study history,” she said. “You need to study philosophy. You need to know who you are.”

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