Image courtesy of TIFF
A young Afro-Latina woman filmmaker examines her life in four parts in Beba.
Rebeca “Beba” Huntt is an artist and filmmaker who documents 8 years of archival film on her life with a Black Dominican father and a light-skinned Venezuelan mother. She goes back to how they met, the sacrifices they made to raise a family in a good area of New York, and the inevitable favouritism that comes with parenting. There is a lot of history within her family, from mental illness to denial, that comes in many forms. As she describes the timeline of her life, she defies how children of immigrants must accept the environment they’re in and the one they came from without question. Huntt finds the courage to ask hard questions of her family and those who took part in shaping her life.
Huntt bares her soul and family dysfunction, and I don’t think Beba is a film I want to critique. It cuts deeper than that. My late mother was half Venezuelan and half Black, and while she was growing up, she was told all kinds of gaslighty things to break her spirit and not question her family. I don’t know its extent because I will never be able to ask her, but my self-esteem issues come as a direct result of hers.
Diving into her family’s issues, Huntt looks at ancestry and myths as she revolves between her roots and life in America. Straddling the two cultures plus family dysfunction is difficult to do. Even though she loves her parents, she calls them out for hiding parts of the family history feeding generational pain. It’s a brave thing to do and commit to film, a visual diary of exploration and reclamation of herself as a whole person, psychological bumps and bruises included.
She shows pride in her examination, something I admire since she is lightyears younger than me. It’s something I’m working on myself. I think this poetic visual essay is an important example for Black and multiracial women to push aside fears of not appearing as society tells us we should. In her intro to the film, she states that you don’t have to like her. This is a revolutionary statement for women, especially Black women since the notion of likeability is forced on us in society. Huntt shows us that we need to do the work to find peace within ourselves to face the world at large.
Despite the struggles and pain Huntt faces in her 8-year journey, to see a self-reflection in a film that looks like memories, mental notes and diary entries floating in a sea of colour and Black and Brown faces is something that becomes inexplicably soothing by the end.
I hope to see more from this innovative and fearless young woman, but in the meantime, Beba is a solid work of self-discovery and growth.
Check out the 2021 TIFF festival here.