Screens at the Firehouse Arts & Events Center, 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. 

By Michaela Camlin 

Piedra Libre

CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival is pleased to sponsor the film, “Piedra Libre,” the second in the dance film series, Documenting Grace, being presented by Kuntz and Company through April.  

The series is dedicated to sharing the work of dance artists beyond the stage. “Piedra Libre” highlights six women who perform ancestral dances. This documentary, directed by Alejandra Vassallo and Pia Sicardi, tells the story of the Afro Dance Company Oduduwa, which since its inception inspired the growing participation of hundreds of dancers in street performances for Memory Day in Argentina. 

Vassallo is a historian who specializes in women’s history and the politics of gender. She is also a dancer and one of the founders of the dance company Oduduwa Danza Afroamericana. 

Sicardi is a filmmaker and musician from the National School of Film in Argentina. 

According to “Films to Festivals”, the purpose of this film is to fight against oblivion. The arts have a long history of being involved in debates regarding memory and human rights in Argentina. The intersections between art and the creation of collective memory from a dance perspective are virtually unexplored in documentary films.  

“ ‘Piedra Libre’ seeks to redress this absence, from a unique aesthetic stance, both formally and conceptually–to narrate, in choreographic form, how a dance born of ancient Black rituals can mobilize the memory of the present in the streets of Buenos Aires,” Vassallo states.  

Vassallo grew up under the last two dictatorships in Argentina. Dancing the Orishas (part of the Afro-Cuban folklore dances) changed her way of understanding politics and her process of memory building. By making this film, Vassallo could confront a society she had always felt isolated from.  

As filmmakers, Vassallo and Sicardi face the challenge of combining aesthetic visions derived from different academic and artistic profiles.  

This documentary extends the boundaries of the genre and the edges of memory. As if guided by the plasticity of the dance, it expands the question of our identity and our memory. 

“Piedra Libre” will screen at the Firehouse Cafe in Bellingham at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. 

Click here to purchase tickets for this film.  

Piedra Libre screenshot