San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Puerto Viejo holds first-ever African Diaspora Film Festival

By Informate Caribe | Special to The Tico Times

The first African Diaspora Film Festival took place in Puerto Viejo on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast this past weekend as part of a yearly celebration of Afro-Costa Rican culture.

The festival drew Hollywood actors such as Alfre Woodard and Danny Glover, as well as international activists from social organizations against discrimination and the war on drugs. The movie “Holiday Heart,” along with documentaries “The House I Live In” and “The War on Drugs” were screened.

A musical group from the Puerto Viejo school, Los Rumberitos, composed of children aged 7-10, performed Aug. 30, and had an impact on actress Alfre Woodard. “You don’t have to worry about maintaining roots of Afro-Costa Rican culture,” she said, referring to the skill of Los Rumberitos.

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Community members gathered in the streets of Puerto Viejo for the first-ever African Diaspora Film Festival. By Daniel Sanchez

The activities continued with a screening of the documentary “Caribe Sur: Coast, History, and Resistance,” which was a production of Era Verde from Channel 15 of the University of Costa Rica. Next up was the tribute “Entre Amigas,” an award presented to Hazel Miller, Cristina Smart, Isilma Baker and Delfina León, who were selected by the community for their contribution to their community. During the tribute, the women wre presented with a portrait photo taken by documentary photographer Lucas Iturriza, who specializes in indigenous cultures. After the tribute, the film “Holiday Heart” starring Alfre Woodard and directed by director Spike Lee was shown. Then musical group RAkACHAN performed.

On Aug. 31, the drums sounded in the streets, and members and two local bands from Cahuita and Puerto Viejo performed. Those from the community came out in their shining best suits, parading with happiness and pride in celebration of their roots and culture. At the end of the parade, the people entered the garden of the diaspora and began their afternoon, which included local calypso musician Mateo, following by a tribute to fathers.

The famous actor and human rights activist Danny Glover excited the crowd with his words on the strength of the Caribbean community, which he called “united and organized.” “Never have I attended a film festival so unique and colorful,” he said.

The activities ended with a concert from Grupo Canto América, a calyso band that drew calls from the crowd for an encore.

During the festival, area restaurants offered visitors a variety of typical plates from Caribbean zone, such as the famous rice-n-beans with chicken, the Hiel drink (made with toad juice) and Puerto Viejo’s rondon, a fish soap cooked with coconut milk.

The event was organized by the community and private businesses with help from the Integral Development Association of Puerto Viejo, the South Caribbean Tourism Congress and Infórmate Caribe, which invited the Costa Rican people to be a part of the festival.

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