Workshops Spring 2014
The Woods Hole Film Festival Workshops are supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council
THE MAKING OF AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY, REBEL BY MARIA AGUI CARTER
SAT. JUNE 14TH, NOON – 4 P.M.
At the outset of the American Civil War, a teenager paid a tailor to make a soldier’s uniform. Harry T. Buford fought as an officer in the battle of First Bull Run, was wounded at Shiloh, then served as a secret agent for the Confederacy. But Buford harbored a secret for which he could have been court-martialed or worse: his real name was Loreta Janeta Velazquez. By 1863, Loreta was working for the Union. Loreta was a woman not only ahead of her time, she was ahead of ours – the American military has only recently cleared women for combat yet Loreta was one of the estimated thousand women who secretly soldiered during the American Civil War over a hundred and fifty years ago.
Loreta Velazquez, Havana born and New Orleans raised, was no typical Southern Belle. Master of disguise, bewitching to both sexes, she, was brash, quick-witted, and unconventional. Her 1876 memoir A Woman in Battle scandalized the South when she revealed she had fought as a soldier and spy. Attacked not only for her criticism of the Confederacy and the corruption of wartime society, but for her sexual freedom and social rule breaking, Loreta has been dismissed as a hoax for over a century. But recent evidence including letters, official government documents, newspaper articles and more indicate she was too easily dismissed. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous she was erased from history?
Based on Loreta’s 600-page memoir, actors and historians bring her story to life in a hybrid documentary weaving drama, animation, historical and recreated archival material to unravel the mystery of Loreta Velazquez.
Writer and director Maria Agui Carter has worked on this film for over a decade with historians and archivists to uncover the story behind the myth. As a Latina woman filmmaker, and an immigrant to the U.S. herself, she was compelled to tell the story of this woman who refused to be constrained by the gender and ethnic prejudices of her time to take part in a pivotal moment of American history. Only one photograph of Loreta existed, and Agui Carter used dramatic feature scenes to bring Loreta Velazquez’ memoir, A Woman In Battle, to life in film. Rebel is a retelling of an amazing life story, but it also asks us to think about the manufacturing of history and about who gets to tell our national history when there are competing perspectives in a diverse culture. The film plays with the concepts of archival and recreation stills and footage, with the printed word, and with the director’s own interpretations and re-envisioning of one woman’s life and times to force audiences to think critically about what they thought the “evidence” told them, even visual evidence such as archival stills, about their history.
It is said history is collective memory. Whose story counts? How do we choose what to remember? And how do we choose what to forget? Rebel is a detective story about a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory.
In this daylong workshop, Maria will screen the film Rebel and then talk about how to make an historical documentary. This workshop is geared toward a general audience, no filmmaking experience required.
Instructor: Maria Agui Carter