Afro Uruguay: Forward Together

Afro Uruguay: Forward Together is a documentary film about the Afro Uruguayancommunity, its unique history, rich musical traditions, and contemporary struggles for uplift and change.

Palermo graffiti artUruguayans of African heritage make up about 10% of the country’s population.  And while they have not suffered the same kinds of brutal repression as African Americans did in their struggle during the last century for equal rights, Afro Uruguayans remain economically marginalized.  Of the estimated population of about 300,000 fewer than 200 have attended college and the vast majority is stuck in low wage jobs as maids, janitors and other unskilled labor.

Elizabeth headshotAmong those fighting for a better tomorrow is Elizabeth Suárez, the head of a group struggling to build a cultural center for Uruguayans of African descent in Palermo, a once proud, now impoverished neighborhood.  Living with her sisters in a multi-family dwelling in the heart of black Montevideo, she braids hair to make a living and is active as a women’s rights advocate, Afro Uruguayan activist, and candombe dancer. Her family’s story includes brutal displacement from their historic community under the Uruguayan dictatorship (1973-1984), and a resilient return to their beloved neighborhood of Palermo.

SergioTeachingSergio Ortuño, an accomplished Afro Uruguayan candombemusician and activist, uses music to bring pride, attention and needed resources to his community.  He is a dynamic and resourceful man, passionate about music and the unique experiences of Uruguayans of African descent. Candombe is a unique Afro Uruguayan percussive tradition, and Sergio is one of its foremost skilled and recognized contemporary performers.  The film will center on his efforts to bring economic development to his community through the vehicles of music and culture.

Forward Together, brings the little-known community of Uruguayans of African descent into a more robust cultural framework that highlights its unique place in Uruguay, as well as in the larger African Diaspora of the Americas.

Journey into the heart of South America…and look to a new tomorrow through the lives of two courageous people using culture, courage and ingenuity to secure a brighter future for their people.

The project is being directed by Pamela Harris and co-produced by Pamela Harris and the bestselling, Uruguayan-American novelist Carolina De Robertis.

Make a tax-deductible contribution to support this project.  Iris Films is a not-for-profit organization and all donations and gifts are tax exempt to the fullest extent allowed by law.


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