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The formidable female rumba group shaking up Cuba’s conservative music scene

Emerging from the poor districts of Havana and Matanzas in the 19th century, today rumba is one of Cuba’s most popular art forms. Influenced by African and Spanish traditions of music and dance, its distinctive, syncopated sound requires masterful musicianship and fierce passion from its performers. But, despite being born of marginalisation and oppression, modern Cuban rumba culture is, in many ways, still deeply conservative. Indeed, some of its most prominent practitioners view it as unladylike, even borderline blasphemous, for women to drum in rumba bands.

In Uproar, the London-based filmmaker Moe Najati profiles Rumba Morena, a controversial all-female rumba group shaking up Cuba’s music scene. A collection of talented, self-taught women, Rumba Morena is out to prove that drumming skills and femininity aren’t mutually exclusive. With the expressive sounds and vivid hues of Havana’s streets shaping the scenes, Uproar uses rumba as a jumping off point for a broader exploration of Cuban society and culture – in all its many complexities and contradictions.

Director: Moe Najati

Producers: Matt Cooper, Georgia Woolley

1 June 2021

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