Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  79 minutes
Date:  2015
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Spanish
Color/BW:  Color
You must register and login to preview and purchase items.

They Are We

New to Docuseek2? Please register and login to preview and/or license this film. If your institution has already licensed this film, you will need to access this page from your institution's network to watch the film. For help on using Docuseek2, please visit our help wiki.

Anthropologist's film reunites a family 200 years after they were torn apart by the transatlantic slave trade.

They Are We

THEY ARE WE is the story of a remarkable reunion, 170 or so years after a family was driven apart by the ravages of the transatlantic slave trade.

In Central Cuba, proud members of the Ganga-Longoba, a small Afro-Cuban ethnic group, have kept their unique heritage alive. Incredibly, through decades of brutal enslavement, independence wars, and then the denying of all religions after the revolution, they have retained a collection of distinct songs and dances that one of their ancestors brought from Africa as a slave. Each December 17th they still perform them at the San Lazaro ceremony.

After a chance discovery while working in West Africa, director Emma Christopher spent two years showing a film of the Ganga-Longoba songs and dances to several thousand people across Sierra Leone. Eventually, in an isolated village with no road access, one man looked at another in joy and wonder as he watched a recording of the Ganga-Longoba songs and said, 'THEY ARE WE!' Then the villagers joined in with others of the Ganga-Longoba songs, still recognizing them clearly despite all the years of separation.

Returning to Cuba, Emma showed her findings to the Ganga-Longoba. 'We are not so alone anymore', said one of their number, woodcarver and artist Alfredo Duquesne. Later he would say that knowing where he came from 'is divine.'

In early 2013, after the law changed allowing them to freely leave Cuba, a trip was at last made to visit Sierra Leone. It turned into a remarkable celebration, a rare recognition of the tenacity and resolve of one young girl who once made the awful journey from Africa to Cuba, but never let her memories of home die.

THEY ARE WE tells the story of the Ganga-Longoba and of the village their ancestor called home.

It is the story of how, just very occasionally, a family separated by the slave trade can reunite for the good of all.

'Fascinating!' - Indiewire

'An inspiration.' - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

'A breezily uplifting saga of people who did much, much more than just survive.' - Straight.com

'A film which changed the lives of many people even before its release.' - Havana Times

''An academic and musicological detective story; lovingly chronicles the celebratory meeting of these very different but ancestrally connected groups.' - Chicago Tribune

'A fascinating ethnographic lesson that also works as a mystery story.' - Chicago Reader


** UN Remembrance of Slavery Day Official Film
** Africa In Motion Scotland African Film Festival
** London Latin American Film Festival
** BronzeLens Film Festival of Atlanta
** Island of Music Festival of Vancouver
** Felebration ATL 2014 Atlanta
** DocMiami International Film Festival
** Capital City Black Film Festival
** National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian
** Just Festival Edinburgh
** African Diaspora International Film Festival 2014, Washington D.C.
** New York African Film Festival
** African Diaspora Film Festival, New York
** Helsinki African Film Festival
** Cannes Festival International du Film Panafricain
** Ethnografilm Film Festival Paris
** Bare Bones Film and Music Festival Oklahoma
** Texas Black Film Festival Dallas
** PanAfrican Film Festival Los Angeles
** San Diego Black Film Festival
** Minnesota Cuban Film Festival
** Dance Camera West of Los Angeles
** Dance on Camera Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center


Main credits

Christopher, Emma (film director)
Christopher, Emma (film producer)

Other credits

Directors of photography, Javier Labrador, Lansana Mansaray (Barmmy Boy); editor, Joanna Montero.

Distributor credits

A film by Emma Christopher, Ph.D.

Docuseek2 subjects

African-American Studies
Cultural Anthropology
Black History

Distributor subjects

African Studies


they; are; emma christopher; we; anthropology; united nations; un; anthropologist; family; cuba; slavery; trans; atlantic; trade; racism; history; ; "They Are We"; Icarus Films

Welcome to Docuseek2!

Docuseek2 is a streaming platform of the best documentary and social issue films available for the higher education community.

Anyone may search for titles and find detailed information about the titles. To preview films or license them for streaming, you must register and login.

Currently, we support online registration for anyone affiliated with a higher education institution. Please inquire if you are with a K-12 district or school or with a public library.

Click the Close button to get started!