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At the outset of the American Civil War, a teenager paid a tailor to make a soldier's uniform. Harry T. Buford fought as an officer in the battle of First Bull Run, was wounded at Shiloh, then served as a secret agent for the Confederacy. But Buford harbored a secret for which he could have been court-martialed or worse: his real name was Loreta Janeta Velazquez. By 1863, Loreta was working for the Union. Loreta was a woman not only ahead of her time, she was ahead of ours – the American military has only recently cleared women for combat yet Loreta was one of the estimated thousand women who secretly soldiered during the American Civil War over a hundred and fifty years ago.
Loreta Velazquez passing as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, soldier and spy of the American Civil War, played by actress Romi Dias.
Loreta Velazquez, Havana born and New Orleans raised, was no typical Southern Belle. Master of disguise, bewitching to both sexes, she, was brash, quick-witted, and unconventional. Her 1876 memoir A Woman in Battle scandalized the South when she revealed she had fought as a soldier and spy. Attacked not only for her criticism of the Confederacy and the corruption of wartime society, but for her sexual freedom and social rule breaking, Loreta has been dismissed as a hoax for over a century. But recent evidence including letters, official government documents, newspaper articles and more indicate she was too easily dismissed. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous she was erased from history?
Based on Loreta’s 600-page memoir, actors and historians bring her story to life in a hybrid documentary weaving drama, animation, historical and recreated archival material to unravel the mystery of Loreta Velazquez.
Writer and director Maria Agui Carter has worked on this film for over a decade with historians and archivists to uncover the story behind the myth. As a Latina woman filmmaker, and an immigrant to the U.S. herself, she was compelled to tell the story of this woman who refused to be constrained by the gender and ethnic prejudices of her time to take part in a pivotal moment of American history. Only one photograph of Loreta existed, and Agui Carter used dramatic feature scenes to bring Loreta Velazquez’ memoir, A Woman In Battle, to life in film. Rebel is a retelling of an amazing life story, but it also asks us to think about the manufacturing of history and about who gets to tell our national history when there are competing perspectives in a diverse culture. The film plays with the concepts of archival and recreation stills and footage, with the printed word, and with the director’s own interpretations and re-envisioning of one woman’s life and times to force audiences to think critically about what they thought the “evidence” told them, even visual evidence such as archival stills, about their history.
It is said history is collective memory. Whose story counts? How do we choose what to remember? And how do we choose what to forget? Rebel is a detective story about a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory.
This four-part series showcases Latino artists, athletes and performers. The series, in its third year, celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. From the housing projects of Brooklyn to a Mexican wrestling ring, from the ranches of California to the crumbling beauty of Castro’s Cuba.
The lineup includes “Tales of Masked Men,” a look at the world of a Mexican “lucha libre,” famous for its masked wrestlers and “Escaramuza: Riding From the Heart,” about a team of women rodeo riders vying to represent the U.S. at the National Charro Championships in Mexico.
The third documentary, “Unfinished Spaces,” tells the story of the Cuban Revolution through Cuba’s National Schools of Art and the three visionary men who designed it, while “Lemon,” follows Puerto Rican poet/performer Lemon Andersen, a three-time felon and one-time Tony Award winner, as he struggles to bring his life story to the New York stage while battling his darkest demons.
Read more about each show below
Escaramuza Charra Las Azaleas team captain Sandy Torres readies herself for competition.
Tales of Masked Men (Premiered Friday, September 28, 2012)
The first of four documentaries looks at “lucha libre” and its role in Latino communities in the United States and Mexico. Part circus and part athletic contest, the sport -- famous for its masked wrestlers -- provides a sense of “home” for new immigrants in the United States. It also continues to expand and build on its unique cultural tradition in countries where it enjoys enduring popularity. Tales of Masked Men was produced and directed by Carlos Avila and co-produced and edited by Thom Calderón.
Escaramuza: Riding From the Heart (Premiered Friday, October 5, 2012)
Las Azaleas are a team of women rodeo riders vying to represent the U.S. at the National Charro Championships in Mexico — where “to be Charro is to be Mexican.” Escaramuza, or skirmish, describes both the daredevil horseback ballets, ridden sidesaddle at top speed, and the intensity of the competition season. Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart was co-produced by Robin Rosenthal and Bill Yahraus.
Unfinished Spaces (Premiered Friday, October 12, 2012)
In 1961, in the heady first days of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro asked three visionary architects to build the Cuban National Arts Schools on what had been the golf course of a country club. Before construction was completed, the Revolution became Sovietized, and suddenly the project was denounced as bourgeois and counter-revolutionary. By considering the buildings, Unfinished Spaces looks at the ever-shifting history of Castro’s Cuba and follow the fates of the three architects, now in their 80s, who may get a second chance to revitalize their utopian project. Unfinished Spaces was co-produced and co-directed by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray.
Unfinished Spaces looks at the ever-shifting history of Castro's Cuba and follow the fates of the three architects.
Lemon (Premiered Friday, October 19, 2012)
When Lemon Andersen held a Tony Award in his hands for his work in Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, it was close to a miracle. This poet and performer was a three-time felon who’d achieved more than anyone could have ever imagined. But when the show closed, he lost everything and moved his wife and two small daughters back to the projects. In desperation, he turned to the only thing he had left — his pen and his past. Lemon follows his journey to take his life story to the New York stage while battling his darkest demons. Lemon was co-produced and directed by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison.