Project Description

Emilia (Documentary Teaser)

EMILIA, an untold Cuban American story

EMILIA is a personal journey and search for ancestral roots to unravel the story of my ancestor, Emilia Teurbe Tolón, who sewed Cuba’s national flag while living in exile in New York in 1850. It is a first-person experimental narrative based on family memories and the meaning of the flag as a unifying symbol for all Cubans. The film chronicles a little known but very significant episode in US-Cuban history: the creation of Cuba’s national symbols in New York.

Emilia was the first woman deported from Cuba for political insurgency. She was a 19th century woman ahead of her time and a role model for women’s contributions to the struggle for independence. An advocate for social justice, she bequeathed her assets for children’s education. Her husband, Miguel, was a poet, political activist and a Freemason. In exile became a pioneer of Spanish language journalism in the United States where he designed the flag and coat of arms. Their commitment to free Cuba from Spanish colonial oppression gave rise to the birth of the Cuban nation.

Although anchored in history, the story is told in the present as I research and merge official, archival and personal histories to reconstruct Emilia’s life. I join Emilia’s descendants in Cuba and Miami as we struggle to understand our family history, and our own story of immigration, exile, family separation and reunification.