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America’s First Female Director To Film In Cuba In 50 Years Debuts At Austin Film Festival

America's First Female Director To Film In Cuba In 50 Years Debuts At Austin Film Festival 2

sombras de azul

 Local Austinite, Writer/Director Kelly Daniela Norris re-imagines her own experience of bereavement following the death of her brother through this filmic elegy, SOMBRAS DE AZUL. By weaving together real memory and personal reflection with the sights and sounds of a country still taboo to many, this film explores how personal and national histories can intertwine – how both societies and individuals change, make sacrifices, recover from wounds, and carry on.

A guerrilla production in the land of guerrillas, SOMBRAS DE AZUL set out to capture both the pulse of Havana and the immediacy of its narrative, flowing from location to location and driven by little other than the passion of its small but talented crew. Intentionally casting her cousin – Mexican actress Seedne Bujaidar for her film debut was key, as she knew that Bujaidar, having experienced her own fathers’ premature passing, would be able to evoke the vulnerability and darkness required by the role.

Diving into the dark material and unforeseen surroundings, Norris was also struck by how closely her journey across the island came to resemble her own protagonists’. Feeling her brothers’ presence in the culture and history of the place, and in the compassion of the Cubans involved in the film, her emotion bled to the cast and crew and what was intended to be an individual catharsis turned into much more. In the end, Norris walked away having begun a long awaited healing process but also having successfully assembled a film that continues the tradition of introspective and unconventional international cinema.

As her first feature, SOMBRAS DE AZUL represents Norris’ most personal and vulnerable film, channeling the private process of grieving and memories of her brother in order to evoke and illuminate the universality of loss.

The 20th Anniversary Austin Film Festival honors the voice of this film and its artists. The World Premiere of SOMBRAS DE AZUL screens Opening Night, Thursday, October 24 @ 7:00pm @ Rollins Theatre with an encore presentation on Tuesday, October 28 @ 7:10pm @ IMAX. The filmmaker will be in attendance with Q+A immediately following both screenings.


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