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Absence and the wistful longing for completeness

Latinas bring Saudade to life in award winning film

A computer accident robbed Yanis Carreto of treasured family photos, home movies – her life’s work. It also set her on a journey to reclaim “something she never even had — but somehow missed more than anything.”

Carreto, a budding independent filmmaker from New Jersey, and Tamara Mattos, a video editor and colorist from New York City collaborated on “Saudade” – a journey to Cuba where Carreto reconnected with family, including her sister whom she had not spoken to in 20 years.

The end result of the transformative experience is a documentary short awarded Best Documentary Film Editing at this year’s Mystic Film Festival.

After a faulty hard drive took away Carreto’s work; she packed a bag and set off for Cuba, to study documentary filmmaking at the world-renowned Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV), and to track down some of those lost family memories. 

“My first night there. I thought about some family I lost touch with when I was a kid. I had a sister there,” recalls Carreto. ” I asked our tour guide whether Cuba had a directory or phone book. Some way of finding people. We looked up her name and within minutes we were talking on the phone and met up the next day.”

The sisters had never met in person. “My sister thought she was dreaming,” says Carreto. “We talk every day now.”

Saudade is one of those elusive words that are difficult to translate. “Saudade is Portuguese for a feeling of longing, nostalgia,” Mattos, a native of Brasil struggles to explain. “There was something missing from Yanis’ life and she went on a quest to find it.”

It was that journey that drew Mattos to the project. The absence, saudade that Carreto felt is universal. Her story to fill a void she was unaware of; something you can feel, but not touch is one both filmmakers believe audiences can connect with.

Saudade is going through the film festival circuit for another year. The film is screening virtually due to Covid-19 as part of the Chain Film Festival (New York) from December 3rd – 13th.

Yanis Carreto (@YanisCarreto) | Twitter
Yanis Carreto

Yanis Carreto is also a writer, and in addition to writing scripts for film projects, she writes, photographs, and films featurettes for the blog, where she chronicles her nostalgic adventures in travel, photography, all things vintage, and the people she meets along the way. She also uses her storytelling skills to advocate and raise awareness for irreplaceable historic, architectural, cultural, and archeological sites throughout the U.S. and the many countries she has visited.

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