Gomez, Sara (1943–1974)

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Gomez, Sara (1943–1974)

Cuban filmmaker. Name variations; Gómez. Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1943; died on June 2, 1974, in Havana; attended Conservatory of Music, Havana.


Ire a Santiago (I Shall Go to Santiago, 1964); Excursion a Vueltabajo (Outing to Vueltabajo, 1965); Y tenemos sabor (And We've Got "Sabor," 1967); En la otra isle (On the Other Island, 1968); Isla del tesorel (Treasure Island, 1969); Poder local, poder popular (Local Power, People's Power, 1970); Un documental a proposito del transito (A Documentary about Mass Transit, 1971); Atencion prenatal ano (Prenatal Care in the First Year, 1972); Sobre horas extras y trabajo voluntario (About Over-time and Voluntary Labor, 1973); De cierta manera (One Way or Another, 1975).

Born into a middle-class black family in Havana, Sara Gomez studied Afro-Cuban ethnography and worked as a journalist on such publications as Mella and the Sunday supplement Hoy Domingo before turning to filmmaking. In 1961, she was one of two black filmmakers and the only woman to join the newly formed Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC). Subsequently, she worked as an assistant director to Cuban filmmakers Jorge Fraga and Tomas Gutiérrez Alea and to visiting French filmmaker Agnes Varda.

Gomez made a series of documentary shorts on subjects like mass transit, pre-natal care, and overtime labor before embarking as a director on what would become her first and last feature-length film, an effort that won her renown. One Way or Another was originally called The Miraflores Housing Project. In the film, for which Gomez also wrote the screenplay, the relation-ship of her two protagonists was loosely based on her relationship with sound man Germinal Hernandez. Gomez examines the difficulties of being both black and female in the Third World. The lovers are Mario, a mulatto worker in a bus assembly plant, and Yolanda, a middle-class schoolteacher who witnesses firsthand the prejudice that exists in their culture. The film is especially noted for Gomez's unconventional choice of intercutting documentary footage that shows the gradual tearing down of colonial Cuba with the traditional narrative. In Women in Film: Both Sides of the Camera, E. Ann Kaplan notes that Gomez's intercutting technique "gives the film its power for the juxtaposition provides a commentary on the capabilities of each cinematic form." Although shot in 16mm, One Way or Another is the work of an extremely sophisticated filmmaker.

Gomez, as a feminist, a revolutionary, and a black woman offered the world a unique voice. Tragically, she died of an acute asthma attack while her film was in post production. Her colleague, Tomas Gutiérrez Alea, finished the movie for her in 1975; it was released in 1977.


Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey. Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Kuhn, Annette, and Susannah Radstone. The Women's Companion to International Film. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990.

suggested reading:

Burton, Julianne. "Individual Fulfillment and Collective Achievement: An Interview with Tomas Gutiérrez Alea" in Cineaste. New York. January 1977.

LeSage, Julia. "One Way or Another: Dialectic, Revolutionary, Feminist," in Jump Cut. Vol. 20, 1979, pp. 20–23.

Deborah Jones , Studio City, California

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Gomez, Sara (1943–1974)

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