This summer commemorates the 1 year anniversary of the premiere of “Daughter of the Sea” at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. This past year has indeed been filled with blessings for the Writer & Director of the short film, Alexis C. Garcia, and her production team.
“Daughter of the Sea” has been screened at over 50 film festivals, including all places that the we call home with screenings in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Maui, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. There has also been multiple screenings in Puerto Rico, where the movie was filmed, with the production team, friends, and family in attendance.
The film has won over 20 awards, as well as qualifying for consideration for an Academy Award after winning Best Indigenous Short at the South Bend Film Festival in Oregon.
The recent screening at the Smithsonian Folklife Film Festival, heralded in another milestone for the film, screening in the National Mall in Washington D.C to a sold out crowd, receiving much praise from the audience. The Director, Alexis Garcia, along with one of the Executive Producers, Selina Morales, and the lead dancer from the Bomba group “Se Baila Bomba” featured in the film, Mar Cruz, were in attendance at the festival, sharing their ancestral knowledge & wisdom with the audience during interviews, performances, and discussions regarding the power of the film and their inspiration.
Convergence is real, with divine timing and the synchronicities of the universe all aligning for this film to be created. The timeline of events leading up to the production of this film all began when Alexis received a link for the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival Inclusion Grant sponsored by Netflix. After sending in a treatment for the film, her application was one of the few that was accepted among the thousands of candidates who applied. The Inclusion grant awards film makers with $20k budget and expert mentorship for step-by-step guidance on the production process from script writing and finalization, to casting, through pre-production, and finally providing feedback throughout post-production.
The grant alone was the first major step of this production, yet all of the other variables seemed to converge on the perfect scenario to produce this film in Puerto Rico. Nearly the entire cast & crew were filled by local talent, while the Executive Producers, Lead Actress, and Director of Photography (also of Puerto Rican heritage) came together to create a film with the over arching theme of returning to our roots. Although the grant awarded the film makers with $20k, they also engaged in fundraising through private and non-profit organizations, while also investing their own money into the project to bring their vision to fruition.
The short film gives a glimpse into the life of a lead female role, played by Princess Nokia, who is being called back to her ancestral home on the island of Puerto Rico after the passing of her grandfather. The story reflects the struggle of many people from the Caribbean Diaspora, who’s lives are often removed from their native islands & cultures as they pursue “The American Dream.” Unfortunately we are often called home during crisis or tragedy, yet these moments present us with unique opportunities for connecting with our heritage.
The audience quickly discovers there is an ethereal quality the film, with hyper realism mixed with moments of mysticism flowing together like waves crashing on the beach. As the main characters of the film experience grief together, there is a calling to nourish their spiritual selves, and find joy in the unity & love found amongst family. The story also captures elements of the culture, with beautiful scenery, using a family home & its surrounding nature, and the colors, food, music, and community of the islands as supporting roles in this ritual of film making.
As children of the Diaspora, we are often unaware of our heritage, as for people of Indigenous & African decent there is no material inheritance that our ancestors were able to provide us with. The Director insists that the film is a portrayal of the Spiritual Inheritance our ancestors preserved through conquest & the middle passage, and continued to practice for generations until this day.
The film acts as a tribute to Yemaya, an Orisha from the Yoruban tradition of Ifa with its roots in what is modern day Nigeria. Yemaya is the Goddess of the Sea, and mother of all. Her likeness was synchronized with the Virgin Mary in Santeria, and found across the Caribbean & Latin America as a spirit that many honor and make offerings to. The Goddess of the Sea would grant safe passage to all who ventured from Africa to the New World, and is still to this day one of the most highly regarded Orishas within Afro-Caribe spiritual traditions.
The true calling for the film was not only for the Diaspora to return to Puerto Rico & thee Caribbean, but really to remind us of our Spiritual Inheritance and call us back to honoring the ways of our ancestors. For many people this Spiritual Awakening to the practices of our Indigenous & African ancestors has become a cleansing form of empowerment, and something that can be embraced whether they have returned to the islands or are living out their lives wherever they may find themselves.
Ultimately this film is a major milestone for the Writer & Director, Alexis Garcia, as she celebrates the anniversary of the & accolades attained by this film. We look forward to what the future will hold for this amazing talent and the team she selected for this project.
For more information regarding access to the film and future plans be sure to follow @yemayafilm on instagram.
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: This article has been has been a long time coming. After a delayed pause in activity we are finally sharing the stories of our accomplishments & experiences again. We have returned to the place where we were founded and have been reaping the blessings as well as enduring the hardships of moving towards our vision for what the future will hold. We arrived back to this place on a research & education mission, stripping away all of the excess to the bare essentials, power, internet, and running water. Within months of arrival, an opportunity to produce a film on the land of our ancestors was presented to us, and we embraced the serendipitous nature of the Universe. We are a year into screening this project at Film Festivals from Puerto Rico to Maui and back again, with awards and accolades as proof that we made the right decision to return to the island where it all began. We are humble about our accomplishments, but now is the time to continue to tell our story and promote our success.
Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to tell our stories on a platform we built for people like us.