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The McMillan-Stewart Fellowship: Flora Gomes

Inspired by his early life under Portuguese colonial rule and by the thought and example of liberation leader Amilcar Cabral, pioneering Bissau-Guinean director Flora Gomes forged a powerful brand of revolutionary filmmaking that seeks to undo the imperialist narrative and give genuine voice to people and subjects that have long been ignored and oppressed.

Gomes’ time as a student of legendary Cuban filmmaker Santiago Álvarez and as assistant to Chris Marker were vital experiences that fed his early militant documentaries and his breakthrough film, Mortu Nega (1988), a powerful retelling of the 1973 Guinea-Bissau War of Independence, through the eyes of a young woman who joins her husband on the battlefield. A sober reconsideration of the cost of war and the bitter struggles that follow victory, Mortu Nega is a complex and milestone film that also pays tribute to the resilience of African women. Gomes’ subsequent films include the acclaimed The Blue Eyes of Yonta (1992), a tender study of the post-independence generation, and his spellbinding masterwork Tree of Blood (1996), a fable-like film that enters deep into the realm of legend and myth. Gomes’ more recent films and works in progress extend his project to chronicle the still ongoing anti-imperialist struggle and to make legible the dynamics of power and oppression at work across the African continent. – Haden Guest

The Film Study Center and the Harvard Film Archive are pleased to welcome Flora Gomes to Harvard this year as the 2021-22 Geneviève McMillan – Reba Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking.

Special Event Screenings with Flora Gomes in person are free to Harvard ID holders.

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