The School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) is commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month with a screening of Cuban America Tuesday, Oct. 2., at the WUC Mary Ann Wolfe Theater on the Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC).
The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
For 50 years, the Cuban immigrant community has established historical, political and economic influence in the city of Miami. Through interviews with Cuban-American students, teachers, entrepreneurs, politicians, activists and artists, the film explores how this group has shaped a tourist town into a major, metropolitan community and urban environment. It also features sit-down talks with FIU faculty and administrators, including Marifeli Perez-Stable, interim director of the Latin American Caribbean Center and professor of sociology, Dario Moreno, professor of politics and international relations, and Modesto A. Maidique, former FIU president.
“Miami is the only city in the country where an immigrant group controls both the private and public sector. Every gambit of social life is dominated by Cuban-Americans,” said Adelin Gasana, filmmaker. “That became my obsession and drove me for two years as I created the film. It’s not an homage or a tribute, but an expository documentary that exposes all the nitty-gritty.”
The documentary film was written, directed and produced by Gasana who was born in Rwanda. A University of West Florida alumnus, he is the son of Janvier Gasana, professor of environmental and occupational health in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. The family left the east African country for the United States in 1993, months before the spark of the Rwandan genocide.
“I can’t speak Spanish to save my life. But as an immigrant, I can relate to the story of the Cuban-American community here in South Florida,” Gasana said. “Like a lot of first-generation Americans born here, I also have a dual identity – I am an American but I am also Rwandan. This is an important element that’s explored in the film.”
The screening will be followed by a panel-led discussion and interactive question-and-answer session. Panelists include Asher Milbauer, director of the Exile Studies Program; Michael Gillespie, director of the Center for the Humanities in an Urban Environment; and Gasana.
“As a school, we are interested in how environmental changes, whether ecological, sociological, or cultural, affect communities and their development,” said Elaine Pritzker, SEAS coordinator. “This film explores the major impact that Cuban immigration has had on the urban environment of Miami, both in a physical and cultural sense. It’s a great fit for the film series.”
For a complete listing upcoming SEAS events, visit their Facebook page.