Andrea E. Leland, a film maker and artist, attended the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, then traveled throughout the Caribbean capturing moments within its communities through the medium of paint. In 1986, changing her artistic medium to film, she began to document and celebrate communities in Haiti, Belize, Virgin Islands, Mexico, and the United States.
Her first documentary in the Caribbean, Voodoo and the Church in Haiti, focuses on Voodoo as a traditional African religion in the country and how it fits into everyday Haitian life. Subsequent documentaries, The Long Road Home, focuses on the refugee community in Guatemala living under its government policy known as "Scorch and Burn".
On her next film, she collaborated with Kathy Berger, a producer, for The Garifuna Journey, documenting Garifuna tradition bearers in Belize. This was followed by Jamesie, King of Scratch, a collaboration project with Kathleen McManus in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), highlighting 'scratch band' or quelbe music, the official music of the U.S. Virgin Islands, as practiced by Jamesie, who shaped the music for more than seven decades.
Another project, Yurumein (Homeland), is a collaborative work with the Caribs/Garifuna of St. Vincent, documenting their struggle to bring the culture back to the nation as its traditions and culture were almost lost during years of colonial repression. Andrea E. Leland provides more information about her work and films.
"Andrea E. Leland is an artist, film and video maker involved in the creative process while exploring, celebrating, and documenting distinct cultures. The goal of the film and video work is to enrich, enlighten, increase tolerance and decrease fear and tension between cultures. She works collaboratively with members of these individual communities providing a forum to voice their untold stories, personal challenges, and compelling triumphs. Social, artistic, or political actions are placed within the context of their culture, imploring the viewer to confront old myths and discover a new perspective". For background about the Jamesie, King of Scratch, see her Director's statement and Project Significance document.