(Carolina Moraes Ramos Liu)
Carolina Moraes-Liu is an award-winning producer who has worked on documentaries and television shows for over 10 years. Her most recent film, Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê, won the Corazon Award for best short documentary at the San Diego Latino film festival and the Best Diaspora Film award at the San Diego Black Film Festival. Carolina also produced and directed the documentary film Festive Land: Carnaval in Bahia, winner of the Remi Award at the WorldFest International Film Festival, and part of the curriculum of Latin American Studies and Cultural Anthropology classes in many universities, including Stanford and U.C. Berkeley and Harvard. She is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, where she serves as a judge for the Emmy Awards. Carolina was born in Bahia, Brazil, and holds a Master’s degree in Radio and Television from San Francisco State University.
from Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Ayiê
I am from Bahia, but I have been living in the United States for most of my adult life. In 1999 I went back to Bahia after being away for almost 7 years, and I started to notice a shift in
how women dressed and wore their hair—the presence of braided hair on the streets was especially remarkable.
The next year I returned again to shoot a documentary about the local carnival, ca
lled Festive Land: Carnival in Bahia, and I had the opportunity to spend a couple of very special days with the group Ilê Aiyê.
Ilê Aiyê is more than a carnival group. They have year-round social projects that help thousands of people in the neighborhood, aiming to propagate black culture, raise self-esteem, and
develop consciousness regarding racial discrimination issues. Ilê Aiyê's carnival parade features a young woman called the Ebony Goddess, selected for her beauty according to Afro-centric standa
rds of beauty, her mastery of African-originated dances including religious Candomblé dances, and her ability to inspire others through her personal history.
I spent much of Saturday of carnival inside Ilê Aiyê headquarters, which is also a Candomblé house of worship, and home of Dona Hilda, a Candomblé priestess and mother of Vovô, the founder of
Ilê Aiyê. That was the first time I saw up close the process of preparing the Ebony Goddess, selected just a couple of weeks earlier, to be presented to the local community.
There was an incredible energy that came from the pride felt by each participant of the group. This was their defining moment, wearing afro-Brazilian clothes, dancing and singing the songs of the group, and showing
to the rest of the world that they were proud of themselves and their culture.
Every time I go back to Bahia I notice that more people are willing to openly talk about discrimination and fight for their rights. There is still a huge portion of the black population that
follows Euro-centric standards of beauty, straightening and coloring their hair so they look as white as possible, but there is also an ever-increasing number of black women who proudly display
their black identity.
I hope the situation continues to improve, and that my film contributes to the evolution of how black women see themselves.
Back to top