The Hungarian lunch lady at school was shocked after hearing a radio report on Vieques. "How could the U.S. have Puerto Rico as a colony for 110 years? How is it that people don't know?"
For all the hoopla about the rehabilitated West Side Story and thankfully fading obsession with the girl from the block and her twins, Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans are rarely visible in any kind of media.
All day today, NYU is screening movies from the closest thing the island has ever had to a film studio, the DIVEDCO (División de la Educación de la Comunidad), a New Deal-spawned Puerto Rican government agency that produced posters, films, festivals and other multimedia materials to educate rural populations about civic engagement, health and community development.
Like the WPA, because the DIVEDCO had incredible artists working for them, the project produced some aesthetically stunning stuff. I'm more familiar with the posters produced than with the films, which toe that line between documentary and melodrama familiar from Italian neorealism. Beautiful stuff.
Samples of the incredible silkscreen posters here (skip the intro). And should you ever be inside the Hunter College library, they have lots of DIVEDCO posters hung in the stacks.
Below is a trailer from "El Tiempo," a short which revisits the sites and players from the Jack Delano-directed "Los Peloteros" 50 years later. Beautiful use of split-screen to show how much and how little has changed in towns like Comerío.