The average person in the United States knows nothing about some 600,000 people who identify with the Black Carib Garifuna community around the world. Freda Sideroff is hoping to change that perception, as, for the second consecutive year, she brings the Garifuna International Film Festival, to Venice.
The two-day festival will be held May 25 and 26, at the Beyond Baroque Literary Art Center at 681 Venice Boulevard and at Mariner’s Village (4600 Via Marina, Marina Del Rey).
Sideroff lists the primary focus of the film festival as the preservation of the Garifuna culture as well as all indigenous cultures of the world. The word Garifuna means “home of the blessed” and for genealogy and ethnicity buffs, the Garifuna—also known as Garinagou – are direct descendants of the “Island Caribs” (originally South American Indians known as Arawaks) and a group of Africans who escaped two shipwrecked Spanish slave ships near St. Vincent in 1635.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) attempted to highlight the importance of the Garifuna culture in 2001 when it proclaimed the Garifuna language, music, and dance “a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.” But the task of making that real has been left to determined Garifuna representatives like Freda Sideroff and organizations like the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United (GAHFU), based in Long Beach, Calif., who hope to bring attention and long life to Garifuna culture through artistic programs, outreach, advocacy and social service programs.
This year’s film festival will feature documentaries including BROKEN RAINBOW, an Academy Award documentary by Victoria Mudd, who will also make a presentation entitled “Images of Indians from Reel to Real.”
GARIFUNA IN PERIL, a feature film by Garifuna filmmakers Ali Allie and Ruben Reyes, will also be screened.
After last year’s festival, Sideroff was invited to visit the White House, in recognition of her efforts to preserve Garifuna Culture.
When people will no longer ask, “Garifuna who?” then we’ll know we’re finally on the world map,” Rony Figueroa, vice president of GAHFU, said.
The Garifuna nation is made of the following countries: Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Yurumein Administratively, the nation is divided into 42 to 46 villages in Honduras, six in Belize, three in Guatemala, three in Nicaragua, and two in Yurumein (Sandy Bay and Greggs).