Black Agency and Aesthetic Innovation in Sergio Giral’s El otro Francisco

Philip Kaisary


In 2013, Henry Louis Gates lamented the tradition of whitewashing and the passing over of slave stories which has become commonplace throughout cinematic history: “there have been all too few films that have captured, or even attempted to convey, the truth of the experience of slavery, from the slave’s point of view” and even fewer “worthy of recognition.” While it is true that there have been some high-profile films produced in the last decade – 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, and Birth of a Nation, among others – that have endeavored to represent slavery from the “slave’s point of view,” Gates’ assessment remains largely apposite within the contexts of Hollywood and English-language productions. However, Afro-Latinx cinema and the history of post-revolutionary Cuban cinema in particular tells a very different story. To evidence this difference, this article will explore El otro Francisco, which was originally released in 1975, and is the first in a searing trilogy of films focused on slavery in Cuba in which perspectives of the enslaved are foregrounded and the traditional representation of slavery – which has to a great extent elided the rich history of slave resistance – is rigorously undermined.


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