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PBS to debut Celia Cruz documentary

Posted by Elena del Valle on April 18, 2006

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Singer Celia Cruz and documentary director Joe Cardona

Photo: CeliaCruzonline.com and WPBT South Florida

PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) will broadcast a 90-minute documentary, directed by Joe Cardona, about Cuban singer Celia Cruz during the 2006 Hispanic Heritage Month. Titled “Celia: The Queen,” the documentary recounts the life and music of Celia Cruz from her humble beginnings in Cuba to international fame.

Cardona includes first hand testimonies from the “Queen of Music” herself, musicians, artists and friends such as Quincy Jones, Johnny Pacheco, and Gloria Estefan. The documentary attempts to capture the impact Cruz had on music and her contribution to universal culture.

“She was there, in spirit, in the faces of the dancing crowd and through her treasured belongings, from her make-up table and small statuettes of saints, to her show-stopping gowns,” said Cardona, who was also co-curator of a 2005 Celia Cruz exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, “Azúcar! The Life and Music Celia Cruz.” 

A Celia fan since childhood, Cardona was working on her documentary when she passed in 2003. He completed the project with the cooperation of her family and friends.

The documentary will debut in private screenings in Miami, New York and Los Angeles, and will later air nationally on PBS. Publicitas LHM, headquartered in Miami, is managing limited marketing sponsorship opportunities for the media showings and the broadcast premier.

Cardona was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, of Cuban parents.  Some of his recent films, include “Bro,” a 2000 feature film which made its way to more than 15 film festivals, won the 2001 Flickapalooza Best Script Award and in that same year was nominated for an Alma Award in the Best Indie Film category; in 2001, he directed  “Nuestra Risa,” a 60-minute documentary in English providing a look into the world of Latino humor.   

He was also responsible for “Jose Marti: Legacy of Freedom,” a 2002 documentary narrated by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Liz Balmaseda and Academy Award nominee, Andy Garcia. The film won the 2002 Best of Show Aurora International Platinum Award. Most recently he released “Cafe con Leche II,” a documentary sequel to the 1997 film about Cuban identity and a growing young Cuban-American generation.

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