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Rosie Perez is a woman who has distinguished herself for her work in
films and in the theater. She was also a dynamo choreographer that made
that old TV series "In Living Color" come alive with her inspired
dances that were amazing. Now, she returns as co-director with Liz
Garbus of this enormously appealing documentary where she shows her
proud heritage as a Puerto Rican.
We are taken by Ms. Perez, and her sister to visit her relatives. The extended family include relatives in New York, Puerto Rico and Florida, where we accompany her in a voyage of discovery. Rosie and her family prove they have a rich heritage living in two cultures. Together with her sister and a cousin, Sisto, they exchange their views about what being Puerto Rican means to them.
This 86 minutes is much too short as we get involved in the stories and the folklore the proud Rosie has to tell. There is also a comprehensive history of Puerto Rico and the people that made it great. She pays tribute to Pedro Alvizu Campos, the man who did so much for the island without asking anything in return. Also, the 60s group, the Young Lords' work in the community is pointed out.
The narration by Jimmy Smits serves well the documentary, but it's Rosie's personality and ebullience that keeps us wishing for more and more.
This thoroughly engaging documentary will resonate not just with the Latin community, but with immigrants in general. Through interviews with Rosie Perez, her family members, and leading figures in the Puerto Rican immigrant community, this documentary gives tremendous insight into just what makes Puerto Ricans "so damn proud," while revealing shocking tidbits of history that have never been revealed in Uncle Sam's textbooks. Viewers will learn about the forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women, the Young Lords, and Pedro Albizu Campos, Puerto Rico's very own Nelson Mandela/ Martin Luther King civil rights leader. This fun-to-watch, educational, deeply personal film is filled with music, laughter, and the warmth of family and national pride. Fans of Rosie Perez are in for a real treat. By the end of this documentary, you feel like you're on a friendly first-name basis with this still fly girl.
Rosie and her family did a wonderful job of outlining our history in a
way that is exciting and informative. Even the dedicated historian
might learn a thing or two from this film but what it offers most is a
genuine 'feel' of the Puerto Rican experience in America. Sure, the PBS
programs of Puerto Rico are more informative, but they lack the
But here's whats wrong with the film... Though the Taino Indians were mentioned probably over a dozen times, their culture and history explained, the contribution of Africans to the island was sadly absent from the documentary. I am very happy that the more contemporary historical black figures such as Don Pedro Albizu Campos were celebrated in the film, but you'd think black folks did nothing but work until he came along. Much was said about resistance against Spain and about bomba music, but they forgot to mention that bomba is African music as it is interpreted in Puerto Rico and that it too was part of the resistance. No mention that those barriles (drums) were outlawed because they were part of the resistance.
There was an entertaining, if not slightly embarrassing section (if we can't laugh ourselves...) on Puerto Rican Spanish. They mentioned the Taino influence, they mentioned the English words that have crept in but surprisingly, failed to mention all the African words that make up Puerto Rican Spanish like 'bemba' meaning lips or mondongo which brings me to food. Yes, they mentioned the frituras and Puerto Rican cooking but failed to mention the many African influences that make up our daily meals from cuchifritos and mondongo to pasteles.
My final comment: It was a good piece. I applaud our sister Rosie Perez on her directorial debut and wish her the best of luck. I encourage you to see it if you haven't, see it again if you have.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I being of Puertorican descent, had mixed fillings about this "documentary". First I was offended that Ms. Perez compared Senor Campos to Che Guevarra. Also just a point of fact,Mr. John Leguzaimo is not of Puertorican descent.His parents came from Columbia. Whomever did research on this was not very accurate. I feel that the future of our race rests on education. This message should have been resounding throughout this film, Education is our road to freedom and power I think any future endeavors of this production team should make this their focus.In my opinion,this film swayed toward an anti-American sentiment.
Rosie, I think you did an alright job but you could have added so much
more to include all Puertoricans and not just the stereotypes. I was so
surprised that you did not mention Luis Munoz Marin... you didn't
mention him at all... It was a great effort but I was disappointed that
there was not enough viewing of the beautiful places in PR. I Love PR
and go often. My whole family is still there. I have Aunt's that will
never leave and have never left... LOL I felt as if you were trying to
get people to feel sorry for us. I don't want people feeling that way.
You know that feeling you had when you called the University to set
them straight after saying that you went from homeless to Hollywood...
That is the feeling I got. Not all Boricuas are from the ghetto and
none of my family lives in poverty. As a matter of fact I have never
even seen the type of poverty you have shown in the movie. I have seen
it in the Dominican Republic and in Central America but never in PR
(Maybe just haven't been in those places).
My beef with PR is that we don't fight harder to become a state. There is no way in He$$ that we could ever be Independent and why would we want to. We have been promised the opportunity to become a state since 1954... what is taking so damn long. I wish you would have put more beauty of the island and politics in the film. Congress has been doing economic studies on the island for years and this documentary just made it seem as if we are not ready to become a state. This is a major set back. We need to promote our prosperity, show off what we have and what we have accomplished.
Hermana - you did alright.. and I felt more love after seeing the film. But Nena come on... let's show off in a good way let there be a Part two... "Puerto Rico - Today"... what do you say? Un Abrazo, Lisette
I am so appalled by this documentary. I am deeply embarrassed and
ashamed by the way Puertoricans were portrayed. This documentary was
not about the culture of Puertoricans. It was about the culture of
Nuyoricans. Puertoricans and Nuyoricans are two different cultures.
Very different cultures and should not be generalized to the Puerto
Rican population. Rosie, before you make a documentary, you need to do
the research. You also need to check and make sure your sources are
credible. Puerto Ricans are not all loud and they do have class, which
is one thing the documentary lacked to show. When I saw Rosie and
Jimmie on the View and Rosie on Martha Stewart I was very excited about
watching. I even made sure to let my parents know since they love
Puerto Rico so much. After the first five minutes I could not believe
how the documentary bashed the US and made Puerto Ricans look like a
bunch of guinea pigs. You need to go and visit Puerto Rico and you will
see that Puerto Rico is not a 3rd world country where more than 50% of
the population is in poverty. Puerto Rico has colleges and well known
Universities, roads, cars, shopping centers, malls (The largest Kmart
and JCPenney's I've ever seen), restaurants, theaters, beaches,
hotels(Ritz, Hilton,etc.), casinos, churches, agriculture, Auto
Expresso, and restaurants just to name a few. Poverty? NOT 50% of the
population is. Puerto Rican culture is about family, music, food,
celebrating, and trying to move forward not backward. Oh, and new
cousins don't just pop up out of no where. No that is not a Puerto
Rican thing, that is a ghetto thing. We are not bastards. Parents of
Puertorican descent who would like to teach their children about Puerto
Rico should invest in a trip with the family so they can see first hand
what Puerto Rico is all about. They will see its beauty, people and
culture. Please don't show them this documentary because it will only
cloud their minds with negativity. Oh, and please don't tell your
American friends to watch this documentary because it will only make
the Puertorican people look ignorant.
Yes, I am born and raised PUERTO RICAN from the island. Just so you know!
At first, I was a little skeptical about watching this film because
most films I have watched go along with all of the stereotypes. I heard
an interview on the radio, where Rosie gave an overall summary of what
the movie included. This sparked an interest in watching it. She spoke
about testing samples taken from Puerto Rico, and although I knew worst
than this has happened, to imagine that such a civilized country would
do something like this. Since then, I have referred people to see this
movie. I think that it is important to know where you came from...and
why we're where we are today. It was after watching this film that I
started asking my parents questions because I remembered that as a
child my parents participated in political movements in Puerto Rico. I
found out that it was for this reason that we moved to Boston, MA.
Corruption in PR during that time was at it's best and the police and
government were ridding' of all people who were in the independent
movement. I never understood it, but now I understand why my parents
Thanks Rosie! We need to continue to educate the world... And ask those posting ignorant responses, where they came from... Chances are, they don't know.
it's about time. I grew up around the lords and the CDC. I didn't know
Ritchie Perez and Pedro petri have passed, may they RIP. I actually
hung out with Pedro and his friend john Jr from buffalo, john
introduced me to my first wife.Thanks for bringing up the lords(YLP. my
brother Felix would have loved this film. (RIP)
OK some of the black contributions were left out in detail, but it may have been implied in reference to the skin color references. I forgive I'm just glad Rosie put this film out. we need it. I want to buy it for my daughter whose mother is black. she lives in mobile Alabama. The only thing she knows about PR is her father and a tee shirt i gave her(shame on me)now she will have the DVD.This was great its about time. thanks Rosie Perez. despierta boricua, defiende lo tuyo.
First, I just like to comment to those who felt that this Film was not
about Puerto Ricans....I felt that This was a great start for Rosie to
get the information out there about our Heritage. From this film I was
able to understand my culture and begin to see where our people came
from. My Family was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I would have
never know the struggle that city went thru if it was not for this
film. I now know the struggles that our people went thru when they came
to the United States seeking the American Dream. This movie left me
wanting to know more about my people and to appreciate what my
grandmother and grandfather went thru.
PR, has its beauty just like everywhere else you go in the world. But, it does have its poverty stricken areas too. So just cause you been to Pr, I'm sure you haven't visited every nook and cranny of the island, because its not just the Haitians or the Cubans or the Dominicans....its everywhere and everyone....
I feel that Rosie Perez and her Crew did a great job getting us to want to know more...No one can put our entire heritage into a short documentary...so if you want to know more do the research and go out and make a 5 or 10 hour movie to explain every piece of our culture...overall I thought it was a good start and I hope that other people can see that and at least acknowledge what she opened our eyes too.
Goodbless, One Proud Cali Rican!!
As a Puertorican raised in Chicago, "por la Division" I certainly can
identify with the documentary. Some people, especially from mainland
Puerto Rico may consider it offensive or distorted, but for us, those
who were raised in New York or Chicago, prior to the new Puertorican
boom exodus to Miami and Orlando that came in the late 1980's, we can
tell, we have lived that we have suffered that, not to mention our
parents and ancestors. Myself, I was victim of more discrimination from
mainland Puertoricans when I returned as a child to the Island than the
one I already experienced in Chicago. Gringo, jincho, etc were among
the nice compliments I got from the mainlanders.
Newyoricans, Chicagoricans, we have something in common and it is our pride in our ancestry and heritage.
The part of visiting cousins you have never seen brought fond memories. The documentary presents a relatively unknown aspect of Puertorican history, especially the discrimination against independentist, documented experiments performed on women and radiation exposure to inmates and the awful living conditions that our ancestors had to endure in New York living in slums resembling those that many Italian immigrants experienced during the 1910's. Something's are better not said, but this kind of thing must be denounced. For those of my paisanos who live in LALAland, this documentary is not for you. For those who want to learn and research a little bit more, this is a good starting point.
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