“Rebel” is the story of Loreta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant who concealed her identity and masqueraded as a man to fight in the American Civil War.
After studying the time period, Boston-based documentary filmmaker María Agui Carter was intrigued by Velazquez’s tale, particularly given the lack of female involvement in the war, so she delved deeper.
"As I discovered more information about this person, I began to wonder, 'what happened that she was erased,'" she told Blouin ARTINFO following a screening of her film at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.
For more than a century, historians dismissed Velazquez as a hoax, a point the investigative documentary intends to prove otherwise. With no video from the time period and very few pictures to draw on, Carter employs vivid re-enactments in "Rebel" to tell the story of a young woman simply trying to fit into the version of America that she has grown to understand.
Like Velazquez, Carter also immigrated to the United States as a young child. Unlike Velazquez, Carter was undocumented and her next project poses the question: “what does it mean to be an American citizen beyond the accident of birth?”