THEY ARE WE is the story of a remarkable reunion, 170 or so years after a family was driven apart by the ravages of the transatlantic slave trade.
In Central Cuba, proud members of the Gangá-Longobá, a small Afro-Cuban ethnic group, have kept their unique heritage alive. Incredibly, through decades of brutal enslavement, independence wars, and then the denying of all religions after the revolution, they have retained a collection of distinct songs and dances that one of their ancestors brought from Africa as a slave. Each December 17th they still perform them at the San Lazaro ceremony.
After a chance discovery while working in West Africa, director Emma Christopher spent two years showing a film of the Gangá-Longobá songs and dances to several thousand people across Sierra Leone. Eventually, in an isolated village with no road access, one man looked at another in joy and wonder as he watched a recording of the Gangá-Longobá songs and said, “THEY ARE WE!” Then the villagers joined in with others of the Gangá-Longobá songs, still recognizing them clearly despite all the years of separation.
Returning to Cuba, Emma showed her findings to the Gangá-Longobá. “We are not so alone anymore”, said one of their number, woodcarver and artist Alfredo Duquesne. Later he would say that knowing where he came from “is divine.”
In early 2013, after the law changed allowing them to freely leave Cuba, a trip was at last made to visit Sierra Leone. It turned into a remarkable celebration, a rare recognition of the tenacity and resolve of one young girl who once made the awful journey from Africa to Cuba, but never let her memories of home die.
THEY ARE WE tells the story of the Gangá-Longobá and of the village their ancestor called home.
It is the story of how, just very occasionally, a family separated by the slave trade can reunite for the good of all.
UN Remembrance of Slavery Day Official Film
Africa In Motion Scotland African Film Festival
London Latin American Film Festival
BronzeLens Film Festival of Atlanta
Island of Music Festival of Vancouver
Felebration ATL 2014 Atlanta
DocMiami International Film Festival
Capital City Black Film Festival
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian
Just Festival Edinburgh
African Diaspora International Film Festival 2014, Washington D.C.
New York African Film Festival
African Diaspora Film Festival, New York
Helsinki African Film Festival
Cannes Festival International du Film Panafricain
Ethnografilm Film Festival Paris
Bare Bones Film & Music Festival Oklahoma
Texas Black Film Festival Dallas
PanAfrican Film Festival Los Angeles
San Diego Black Film Festival
Minnesota Cuban Film Festival
Dance Camera West of Los Angeles
Dance on Camera Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center
"An inspiration." —United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
"A breezily uplifting saga of people who did much, much more than just survive." —Straight.com
"A film which changed the lives of many people even before its release." —Havana Times
""An academic and musicological detective story; lovingly chronicles the celebratory meeting of these very different but ancestrally connected groups." —Chicago Tribune
"A fascinating ethnographic lesson that also works as a mystery story." - Chicago Reader