Cuba has always had a visible presence in our campus through the labors of Prof. Ann Marie Stock, and the amazing visitors she regularly welcomes in Williamsburg. During the fall, though, the Cuba connection became even stronger.
It all started during the summer, as the US and Cuba moved to re-established diplomatic relations after a half-century embargo. W&M alum, David Culver (’09), from News4 NBC Washington started visiting the island and witnessing first-hand the changes that were rapidly ensuing. For him, there was a personal side to these journeys, as he explains in “Rediscovering Cuba: A Journey Home.” Furthermore, he did not hesitate to invite his former professor, Ann Marie Stock, to accompany him and share her unique insights on Cuba, as the US Embassy in Havana was getting ready to open its doors again.
During the summer, Prof. Stock also led a delegation from Swem Library to the island. Carrie Cooper, Dean of University Libraries, Jay Gaidmore, Director of Special Collections, Troy Davis, Swem Library’s Head of media services, and Prof. Stock had a mission: “to acquire collection materials, to explore the tradition of book arts and publishing, and to gather digital material for the growing archive related to Cuba’s vibrant film culture.” Troy Davis and Prof. Stock also went into the Sierra Maestra mountains in order to interview the creators of Televisión Serrana (TVS), a community media organization, and visit old friend Carlos Rodríguez, who had been an artist in residence at Swem back in 2014.
Back in Williamsburg, in October, Prof. Stock welcomed internationally acclaimed director of animated films, Ernesto Piña Rodríguez (ICAIC & ERPIRO STUDIOS). His works include, among many others, EME 5 (2004), inspired by Japanese anime; you can also see a project proposal for his feature Anti-ciclón (2013). HISP students in particular were excited to hear him talk about “El dibujo animado en Cuba.” Ernesto Piña also shared his experience in a second lecture, “An Animation Insider from Cuba.”
As 2015 drew to an end, a momentous event drove Prof. Stock back to Havana. The Spanish version of her cutting-edge On Location in Cuba (2009), Rodar en Cuba. Una generación de realizadores (Ediciones ICAIC, 2015), was launched as part of the activities of the 37th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. The event was presided by renowned filmmaker, winner of the Premio Nacional de Cine, and mentor to Prof. Stock, Fernando Pérez. In his words, “Ann Marie is one amongst us, and you can tell by reading her book. She analyzes a very important phenomenon in Cuban culture: independent filmmaking. This is a pioneering book.”
And, as the flurry of Cuba-related activities seemed to come to a rest, Prof. Stock could not have envisioned what was to come during the spring semester…!