Homepage News

Dept. Chair Kelly Anderson’s Latest Film Sweeps Awards in Cuba

Film and Media Chair Kelly Anderson’s latest film, Rabble Rousers, won several awards, including Best Director, this month at the Santiago Alvarez Documentary Film Festival in Santiago, Cuba. Anderson attended the festival, marking her first time in Cuba in nearly a quarter-century. While on the island, she also screened her 1994 film, Looking for a Space, a documentary about the persecution of Cuba’s LGBTQIA+ community during the early years of the country’s revolution.

The newer film, which Anderson completed in 2022, tells the story of Frances Goldin, a housing activist who took on “master builder” Robert Moses and five mayoral administrations to establish the first Community Land Trust in New York City, thereby ensuring a permanent home for generations of working class individuals and families in the East Village.

Named for the late Cuban documentarian Santiago Álvarez, the festival received more than 160 submissions from all over the world and selected 25 for consideration by the jury. In addition to Best Director, Rabble Rousers also won Best Sound Design and a special jury award from Radio Havana Cuba. Anderson co-directed the film with Kathryn Barnier and Ryan Joseph, both longtime filmmakers based in New York City.

Although the persecution Looking for a Space documents has abated in the past 30 years, the film had never been screened publicly in Cuba before. That hasn’t stopped it from finding an audience. After the screening, at the Museum of Sound and Image in Santiago, an audience member told Anderson that the film has been privately shown and celebrated by Cuban filmmakers, intellectuals, critics and others. Anderson knew the film had been screened at house parties within the queer community, but was surprised to learn that its reach had extended so far beyond.

Anderson visited Cuba many times between 1991 and 2000, when she was just beginning her teaching career at Hunter. She says that while the economic situation there remains dire, particularly since former President Trump reinstated the trade embargo that Obama had largely lifted during his time in office, she quickly remembered what she likes best about the country: meeting Cubans. “Everyone is so welcoming, and so curious, and many are so knowledgeable about cinema,” she says.

Anderson says she hopes to be back soon, and possibly even start an exchange program so that Hunter Film and Media students might have an opportunity to experience the country for themselves.

Our Journalism Concentration & Minor

The Hunter College journalism program is offered as a concentration or a minor within the Department of Film & Media Studies. Its curriculum is built around production courses in journalism and analytical courses in media studies. Learn more about our course requirements.

Our Archives

Journalism Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to the journalism newsletter

* indicates required

Comments are closed.