Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Press Release--PBS to Air Program on Female Latino Confederate Spy


ON PBS FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2013 AT 10:00 P.M. ET

New Documentary Explores the Secret Life of Loreta Velazquez --

Cuban immigrant, Confederate Soldier turned Union Spy

Release image tiny.jpg
Romi Dias as Loreta Janeta Velazquez.
Credit: Gerard Gaskin

Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. While the U.S. military may have recently lifted the ban on women in combat, Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant from New Orleans, was fighting in battle 150 years ago — one of the estimated 1000 women who secretly served as soldiers during the American Civil War. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous that she has been virtually erased from history? Directed by María Agui Carter, REBEL premieres as a special presentation of the Latino Public Broadcasting series VOCES ON PBS, airing nationally on PBS on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings).

Deftly weaving lushly dramatized scenes of Loreta’s riveting tale with historical commentary and archival material, REBEL explores the story of a complex woman, a myth and the politics of national memory. The story of a wealthy Cuban planter’s daughter sent to New Orleans in 1849, REBEL chronicles Loreta’s rebellious relationship with her traditional family and her early marriage to an American soldier known only as William. After the devastating sudden death of William and her three young children, Loreta turned her grief into transformation. She embarked on a new secret life, disguising herself as a man and, under the name of Harry T. Buford, served first as a soldier in the Confederate Army and later as a Union spy.

REBEL is based on Loreta’s 600-page memoir, A Woman In Battle, which caused a sensation when it was published in 1876 and remains in print to this day. For over a century, Loreta was dismissed as a liar and a prostitute, but new evidence indicates she was no hoax. “Loreta’s memoir gives us rare insight into war from a woman and a Latina ’s point of view. She was an immigrant serving her country by fighting for it, as so many generations have done. Growing up in New Orleans she naturally aligned herself with the South and even kept a slave, but records show she would end up spying for the North. She was a complex woman who ultimately turned against war as a solution to the world’s problems,” says writer/director María Agui Carter. Although Loreta’s memoir, which most historians acknowledge to be somewhat embellished, was dismissed as a hoax for over a century, historians have recently discovered documents in the National Archives as well as newspaper articles and letters proving that she did indeed exist. “Loreta Velazquez was a rebel who flouted all the rules to become a part of American history,” says Ms. Agui Carter.

“We’re delighted to present REBEL as a special presentation of VOCES ON PBS,” says Latino Public Broadcasting’s Executive Director Sandie Pedlow. “The film rescues this fascinating story from obscurity, and shines a light on an amazing Cuban American woman who was not afraid to defy expectations and blaze her own path.”

REBEL is a co-production of Iguana Films, L.L.C. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with WPBT2/Miami and Latino Public Broadcasting with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

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About the Filmmakers

María Agui Carter (Writer/Producer/Director) emigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador , grew up an undocumented “Dreamer” in New York City and graduated from Harvard College . A filmmaker and scholar, she has won George Peabody Gardner, Warren and Rockefeller Grants, been a visiting scholar at Harvard and Tulane, and her work has shown at film festivals and been broadcast internationally. Based in Boston , she is an advocate for Latino and social issue filmmakers, serving as Chair of NALIP, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

Calvin Lindsay, Jr. (Producer) has worked in television production for more than two decades, beginning at WGBH-TV where he served as Series Producer for Say Brother, one of public television’s longest running local series. Lindsay has produced seven Emmy Award winning documentaries and productions and has collaborated on countless others.

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