Screened in competition at the 2013 San Francisco Latino Film Festival
Oíaymelo is an abstract documentary that explores the racial politics inside “the walled city,” the historic center of Colombia’s primary tourist destination: Cartagena de Indias. Narrated by a professor and a street musician, it follows the trials and tribulations of Ronald, a musician who makes a living in the plazas—the same plazas that served as Spain's slave trading center for over 100 years—by performing Afro-Colombian rhythms and dances from that very era. The story reflects on the situation of black, lower-class citizens having to depend on an economic industry that, while necessary for their short-term economic survival, maintains their marginalization and exclusion by perpetuating racial inequality, social stratification, and high levels of poverty (the highest of any Colombian city). Furthermore, Oíaymelo attempts to explore how music-making and dancing on the streets inform the image of Cartagena (public plazas, ex slave-trading centers) for both visitors and locals, and thus generate different types of meaning surrounding what Cartagena is and how it is perceived.
As an audiovisual experiment—a blending of music, history, race, and politics—it urges us to think about what we see when we visit a place, as well as what we don't. (Who goes unseen in the streets of “the walled city” and why?) More significantly, it challenges us to think about different ways of seeing. That being said, filmmaker Nicholas Sea attempts to demonstrate a visual style that conveys the complexity of issues surrounding cultural representation, race relations' relationship to the tourist industry, and the interaction between identity construction (how we think of ourselves) and creative expression (how we express ourselves).
Video. 42 min. 2013.