Get ready to embark on a journey into the BEBA universe, and uncover the coming-of-age story directed, written, and co-produced by first-time feature film-maker, Rebeca Huntt.
“I am the lens, the subject, and the authority;” Huntt’s powerful and profound first words can be heard echoing throughout the intimate confines of Lincoln Center’s Francesca Beale Theater. Almost in a trance, the audience is transported into Rebeca’s world, hanging on to each word as she continues her poetic narration.
“Every one of us inherits the cures of our ancestor; I am watching the curses of my family slowly kill us, so I’m going to war – and there will be casualties.
A variation of shots of Rebeca riding a train above ground in New York City, hands preparing eggs to be boiled and vegetables to be cut, and a scene in which Rebeca walks through a forest in South America appear across the movie screen. The striking juxtaposition between each shot keeps the audience engulfed, and constantly waiting to see what will show up next.
After the first opening shots, the audience knows that they are truly entering Rebeca Huntt’s universe – both a captivating and complex whirlwind.
As Huntt’s life unfolds before the audience, we learn she is the daughter of a Dominican father and a Venezuelan mother and born in raised in the concrete jungle that is New York City.
We witness Huntt grow up as the middle child of a working-class family to first-generation parents, and the trials and tribulations that come with trying to figure out her place in the world as a young, Afro-Latina artist.
Ever curious about her environment and understanding who she is in reflection of it, Huntt goes takes the audience with her as she travels to South America, a place in which she spent many summers as a child, to college amidst a time of intense racial and political unrest, and back to her hometown in NYC.
Shot using 16mm film over 8 years, the grainy first-person shot documentary takes the audience on an intimate experience – this is something that is not lost the Huntt.
“I was in my early 20s when I started making this film,” Huntt says when beginning to address the audience. “I just really wanted to connect because there’s a moment I think that happens; this existential puberty that happens in your 20’s and late teens that I don’t think our generation, at least in my experience, talked about enough – like really understanding the systems that we live in and how things work and our place in that and I mean systems by even our own families.”
Taking a beat, Huntt continues, “and so for me, this film came from a place of like yearning to connect and yearning for that authentic connection in space.”
Throughout BEBA, Huntt strives to path her creative path while dealing with familial relationships and friendships, her relationship to the world around her, and the extensive and colorful history of her ancestors.
Reflecting on her film which mimics that of a deeply human visual memoir, Huntt mentions taking inspiration from the world of revolutionary African American filmmakers, Camille Josephine Billops, and Kathleen Collins.
“[Their] level of honesty and that level of reflection and connection and authenticity and that level of bravery was a huge inspiration for my film,” Huntt says.
Huntt goes on to describe her film as being “a very strict three-act structure in an existential sort of quantum leap kind of way”, in which the audience watches the eager creative transition throughout different eras in her life.
Huntt shows the very raw and real side to the complex upbringing of her parents, who escaped ethnic cleansing and poverty, to make ends meet in arguably one of the most expensive cities in the world. Huntt takes on the role of continuing to uncover her past to help move forward with greater intent.
We also witness Huntt’s conversations about the fate of Black people in America and social injust amongst her white Ivy league peers at school. Some parts of these conversations may have an audience member or two silently balling their fists before finding solace in Huntt effortlessly shutting them down.
In revealing both the bitter and sweet truths and moments shared amongst her family, friends, and romantic interests, Huntt’s film expresses a vulnerability that is personal yet deeply relatable.
Huntt reveals that while some connections “are not always going to be easy or pleasant, that doesn’t mean that they’re not worthwhile.”