Movie examines role of women in Sandinista Revolution

photo/ Margarita I. Montealegre

MEMORIAS DEL FUEGO is a feature-length documentary about the stories, struggles, and triumphs of former Sandinista women in Nicaragua who refused to conform – changing the face of their country. They played a vital role in winning the Sandinista Revolution of 1979, but four decades later many are still fighting for women’s health, safety, and education.

We found these women so inspiring that we went this April, using our savings and borrowed equipment, to capture what we could, and found more than we has hoped. Although some are no longer living, we reached and hope to reach more former combatants and FSLN members, including those of humble origins, who risked their lives fighting in the Revolution but have never been interviewed. Why did they fight? Did they get the changes they hoped for?

photos:Margaret Randall, Margarita I. Montealegre, Claudia Gordillo

Women comprised a remarkable (even by today’s standards) 30% of the FSLN army and served in every capacity in the war, commanders, doctors, messengers, weapon transporters, combatants, and photojournalists. The Revolution brought together diverse groups of women seeking change, from every class of society and level of education. Fighting against Nicaragua’s economic disparity, social injustice, and pervasive domestic violence, these Sandinista women were integral in overthrowing the brutal dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. We aim to help preserve and celebrate these women’s achievements so they do not vanish.

Although they won the war, four decades following the victory, the ideals many of these women fought for have not been realized. Rape, murder (‘femicide’) and domestic violence against women are pervasive, and much of it goes unreported. Nicaragua has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Latin America, with 1 in 3 women reporting physical abuse according to Casa Alianza. A study in the Journal Social Science and Medicine claims that over 50% of married women in the city of Leon have experienced abuse, and of those women 80% did not seek help.

Our film examines these women’s perseverance and activism during and beyond the Revolution. In different ways, all these women continue to fight; crusading for women’s health and safety, writing books published all over the world, and running political parties. Each of their stories proves how multifaceted, how substantial, and how expansive one life can be. We hope to share their contributions more widely.

We’ve had a lot of support and donations to our Kickstarter campaign from Nicaraguans; about 20% of our backers so far are from Nicaragua! Many have written to say they shared the link with their family and friends, or that their mother fought in the Revolution, and they are excited for the film. Support from the Nicaraguan community means so much. We hope to finish fundraising so we can return to Nicaragua and seek out more women who haven’t shared their stories widely, especially women from rural areas who fought, and other FSLN members who have stories about joining the Revolution.

Watch the trailer and support finishing this film here:

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