“I have two homelands, but one blood,” says Silvia Galdes in Una Sola Sangre, the latest film by the Haitian-born, Toronto-based filmmaker Esery Mondesir. Silvia, along with her siblings Silverio and Estella, is a first-generation Haitian-Cuban, the daughter of Sylvain Galdes, one of an estimated 500.000 Haitians who migrated to Cuba for work in the early 20th century.
Despite not seeing their father’s homeland until their sixth decades (and after the shooting of the film), the Galdes family and their social position in Cuba has long been marked by their Haitianness – an identity they and their children negotiate in various ways throughout Mondesir’s generous and intimate documentary. Through moments of work, rest, and celebration, the film produces a deceptively profound portrait of a family, a neighbourhood, and a nation.
Having arrived at filmmaking from previous careers in teaching and labor organizing, Una Sola Sangre marks the latest contribution to a modest if protean body of short documentaries, experimental films, and hybrid narratives the filmmaker has produced in recent years, several of them grappling with anti-Black pasts and presents both in Haiti and his adopted home of Canada. C& América Latina spoke with Mondesir about his time with the Galdes, and how he went about positioning his role in the film.