On Wednesday, March 10th, showcase attendees can view festival award winning films and meet the filmmakers during this year’s virtual Iranian Women Filmmakers Showcase. The showcase and the Meet the Filmmakers event are free but registration is required. Click here for registration: https://www.goelevent.com/WoodsHoleFilmFest/e/IranianFilmmakersShowcase
Hosted by Women in Film and Video New England, in partnership with Women in Film and Television International, and That Child Got Talent Entertainment, and supported by Woods Hole Film Festival, the Iranian Women Filmmakers Showcase will feature nine short films from Iranian women for viewing on demand from March 10th to March 12th. On March 11th, from 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST, attendees will be able to connect with the filmmakers as well as speak with other cinephiles immersive experience on Remo.
Emerson alum Sonia Hadad, whose film "Exam" won the Grand Jury Prize of the AFI fest, curated the shorts program. The films -- dramas, documentaries, and animations -- embrace the different aspects of the Iranian experience for an international audience. The Showcase intentionally takes place during International Women’s Week and participates in the effort to #ChooseToChallenge by seeking out, sharing, and celebrating women's achievements through spotlighting these female directors.
“Women in Film and Video of New England is excited to host our sister filmmakers from Iran and take time to enjoy and celebrate their work especially during women’s history month. We are a global community and the stories of our colleagues around the world are as important as the ones happening in our backyard," said Alecia Orsini, President of WIFVNE.
“That Child Got Talent Entertainment is so very honored to work with the all-women lead organizations-- WIFVNE & WIFTI-- to bring together a collection of short films produced, written, and directed by our sisters in film in Iran. Many thanks for the unwavering curation by Sonia Hadad. We are delighted to sponsor this event and look forward to many more to come. Blessings for another year of Women in Film!” added That Child Got Talent Entertainment founder, Nerissa Williams Scott.
EIGHT FILMS FEATURED IN THE SHOWCASE
Films featured in the event are as follows:
The oscar-nominated film shadows a young Iranian woman who sets out on a mission to transport a brown package, at the request of her father. The anxiety-filled thriller unfolds in fifteen minutes, forcing the audience to question what may occur in each passing moment.
Directed by: Sonia Hadid
The Fried Fish
The fish is yearning to see the sea once again. He asks a cat, a mouse, a dog, and a crow for help, one after another. They each eat a part of his flesh and carry him some distance down the path to the sea. But after a while, one by one, they put him down and leave. At the end, some ants throw the fish’s skeleton into the sea. The fish happily swims away in the deep blue sea.
Directed by: Leila Kahlilzadeh
This puppet short follows a group of refugees attempting to cross the border. As smugglers transport them in a fridge truck, the exposure to freezing cold temperatures may dim their hopes and chances for a better life.
Director: Farzaneh Omidvarnia
Protagonist Marziyeh has always struggled with her religious and strict upbringing. Now as a young married woman she’s navigating the world on her own terms, learning to lean into her newfound sense of self and identity.
Directed by: Dornaz Hajiha
An Iraqi sniper chooses to document some of his past killings by tattooing the names of the soldiers on his body. The final tattoo, given by a young Iranian, may astonish viewers.
Directed by: Ghasideh Gholmakani
A mother overcomes adversity to protect and provide for her daughter. Their journey brings them to a London river, or a bitter sea, that they gaze upon in the final scene of the film.
Directed by:Fateme Ahmadi
Revolutionary Memories of Bahman Who Loved Leila
Complex family drama and history intermesh in the 15min documentary, which takes place in 1978 in Iran.
Directed by: Farahnaz Sharifi
On her way back from work a woman witnesses something happening in the bus and she has to decide if she reveals it or not.
Directed by:Farnoosh Samadi
Every day on the streets of Tehran, a house in being demolished, a house that one day was designed based on our architecture principals , aesthetics and our needs. Artists have gathered in one of those old houses and created works to pay a last tribute to it as a representative of historical houses of the city of Tehran.
Directed by Farnez Jurabchian and Mohammadrez Jurabchian
President's Statement Women's History Month 2021
There are so many reasons I like the month of March. Spring is around the corner, St. Patrick’s Day, the founding of the Girl Scouts, and of course women’s history month. But for a lot of us the middle of March also marks the anniversary of a pandemic that changed our lives drastically. We’ve done a lot of growing in this year and spent time focusing on what is most important to us.
Human connection is on the top of that list. So how do we celebrate this month, and honor the great change that happened?
The work we do at WIFVNE is a year-round endeavor. The spotlight is naturally on women of history this month, but that history doesn’t disappear in the other months on the calendar.
So we are encouraging you to MAKE history. Join us, network, find ways to make human connections that matter. Become a mentor, make a big ask for a project that you’re passionate about, Watch a film that you normally wouldn’t have, talk to someone new.
We are here for you. Let's make some history and Change the Lens.
- Alecia Orsini
On Monday, February 1, WIFVNE President Alecia Orsini spoke with some students who are members of Emerson College's Women in Motion. The following recap was provided by Emily Cerutti.
Women in Motion is an organization that aims to empower women and female-identifying students to be successful in all aspects of the film industry. The goal is to create an inclusive and educational community that empowers those who have been historically marginalized in the industry.
When talking with Alecia, she not only gave us a run down on her position in the film industry and her impressive climb to where she is now, but also taught us all the specific details of how to succeed when entering the industry. It is very rare to have a speaker talk about the experience as a production assistant on set as we all know that will most likely be our first job out of college. Most speakers tend to focus on the positions they have already achieved or ones that are far in the future for most students; however, Alecia specifically told us how to be successful as a production assistant which will later help us achieve success in higher roles later on. Alecia was also extremely supportive offering her contact information to all of our members and herself as a resource. She also promoted WIFVNE and explained the benefits of having a women centered community that we could turn to, but also inviting men to be part of that conversation as they are needed to help create change in the industry as well. Overall, she was an incredibly knowledge, kind, and inspiring speaker and we enjoyed every moment of her time.
With a great start this past Sunday, WIFVNE in partnership with the Walnut Street Synagogue and the Boston Latino International Film festival is excited to continue the Tikkun Olam-Sanar el Mundo film series and roundtable virtual event this Sunday, February 28th with the second installment of the series!
This film series focuses on and celebrates how an act of healing, no matter how small, contributes to Tikkun Olam-Sanar el Mundo - healing and repairing the world.
On Sunday, February 28th at 3:30pm will be the screening of Decade of Fire. This film follows the plight of Black and Puerto Rican residents of the South Bronx who were blamed for the devastation of their neighborhood caused by fires in the 1970s, despite their daily battles to save their neighborhoods. The film uncovers the truth along with policies of racism and neglect that still shape our cities.
Following the screening, there will be a conversation with moderator Sabrina Aviles, Festival Director of the Boston Latino International Film Festival and a producing partner for the series; filmmakers Vivian Vazquez and Neyda Martinez as well as special guests Roseann Bongiovanni and Maria Belen from GreenRoots Chelsea.
An educator and facilitator,Vivian Irizarry ran educational and youth leadership development programs at the Coro Foundation, Bronxworks, and is currently the director of community-school partnerships at the New Settlement Community Campus. Vázquez Irizarry managed educational youth development models in GED completion and college access programs across New York City. A former member of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, she is a member of 52 People for Progress, a community organization that saved her childhood playground and revitalized the South Bronx for the last 35 years.
Gretchen Hildebran is a documentary filmmaker and editor whose work lives at the intersection of politics, policy and human experience. Credits include: WORTH SAVING (2004), which was presented in HBO’s Frame by Frame showcase; OUT IN THE HEARTLAND (2005) which explored anti-gay legislation in Kentucky. A 2005 graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, Gretchen shot Ramona Diaz’s THE LEARNING (2011) and has edited for the History Channel, PBS and the United Nations Development Programme, as well as on independent documentaries. Gretchen has also made a series of short documentaries used to educate communities across the country about life-saving interventions such as needle exchange and overdose prevention.
Nick Rocco Scalia from Film Threat said “The well-paced, tightly constructed, often crushingly emotional documentary is stirring and compelling throughout, illuminating both a dark chapter of New York City history and an all-too-common example of the extent to which inner-city people can be unjustly victimized by those in power.”
Don’t miss out on seeing Decade of Fire and the panel conversation on Sunday, February 28, 2021. The films and discussions will also be offered in English and Spanish. Visit walnutstreetsynagogue.com/film-series for complete details and ticket information.
Join us this Sunday, February 21st for the first installment of the “Tikkun Olam-Sanar el Mundo” film series and roundtable virtual event.
This film series focuses on and celebrates how an act of healing, no matter how small, contributes to Tikkun Olam/Sanar el Mundo - healing and repairing the world.
On Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 3:30pm is the screening of The Longing: The Forgotten Jews of South America. This film tells the story of a small group of South Americans, whose ancestors were European Jews forced to convert during the Spanish Inquisition. They long to affirm their faith while isolated in Catholic countries. Despite being rejected by local Jewish communities, they battle to become Jews regardless of the consequences. (Most of the film is in Spanish with English subtitles; a Spanish transcript is available for portions only in English.)
Following the screening, there will be a conversation with moderator Dalia Wassner, Ph.D. Director, HBI Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies at Brandeis, Rabbi Claudia Kreiman of Brookline’s Temple Beth Zion, and director and producer Gabriela Böhm.
Gabriela Böhm is a documentary director, producer, writer and editor. She is founder of the documentary film company Böhm Productions, which produces creative, thought-provoking, character-driven films that explore our common humanity through inspiring stories — past and present. Her award-winning films have screened worldwide.
Gabriela's family was forever changed by the events of The Holocaust, leaving a trail of ghosts in its residue. Her creative work is alive, pulsating, and fed by questions that reflect back to this source. In addition, she is the Program Manager of the Tools for Tolerance for Educators program at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. A native of Argentina, Gabriela received her BFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA at Maine Media College.
This is a free event conducted in partnership with The Walnut Street Synagogue, WIFVNE, and the Boston Latino International Film Festival. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Chelsea Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
The films and discussions will also be offered in English and Spanish. Visit walnutstreetsynagogue.com/film-series for complete details and ticket information.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, Women in Film & Video New England (WIFVNE) has an elected Board of Directors. All active members are asked to vote for our Board members, who work on a volunteer basis to fulfill the vision and mission of the organization: WIFVNE works to “Change the Lens” for New England filmmakers by advancing female storytellers in their craft through networking, community, mentorship, and education. WIFVNE membership is open to everyone who supports our mission.
WIFVNE is a member of an umbrella group called Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI). WIFTI is a global network comprised of some 44 Women in Film chapters worldwide and more than 13,000 members dedicated to advancing professional development and achievement for women working in all areas of film, video, and other screen-based media. WIFVNE is also a member of WIFT-US.
For the term beginning in January 2021, there will be nine (9) current Board members who will remain on the Board. From December 13 to December 20, WIFVNE members will cast their votes via online ballot for up to two (2) new Board members.
Board candidates are listed alphabetically.
Charlie Alejandro began her career with the Metropolitan Police Department on December 17, 1984 and became a Trooper with the Massachusetts State Police when the police consolidation law took effect on July 1, 1992. After her retirement Ms. Alejandro started Corporate Power group a successful public speaking and training company She worked as a community organizer for the City of Lowell, assistant project manager for Vance International, and as a criminal justice instructor for Lincoln technical schools. She is a tactical techniques instructor for CPG-CP security and training. Charlie us co-owner of Beantown Statie production company. An independent multi-award winning production company, sound stage, photography studio and editing suite Ms. Alejandro is married to her second husband Mel. Together they raised their blended family of 6 boys, two girls and now enjoy working with some of their adult children in various film and tv projects.
As owner of a Latina, female owned production studio, I feel that I have a wide array of skills to bring to the table. Including but not limited to social media, directing, public speaking, producing, directing, wardrobe, prop and set design as well as FX and regular make up. I love mentoring younger women in the field. I also look forward to learning from women who have paved a path for women like myself.
Regina Clark grew up in Boston, MA. She holds an AA and Certificate in Paralegal Studies, a BA in Political Science and a BS and MA in Video Production. Regina wrote, produced directed and edited her Master's thesis Chloe which was screened at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival in 2002. She was also a finalist in the Kid's Fest Film Festival also in 2002. Regina, a long-time fixture at Emerson College, is currently the User Services Coordinator for the Media Services Department. She supervises up to 12 student employees and oversees the day-to-day operations of the department.
If elected to the Board, I feel that a new voice and ideas will add to the differing perspectives that are there. As well as giving me the opportunity to learn from others and to repot the root-bound plant I call my video career.
Delores Edwards is an Emmy nominated and award-winning producer, writer, and entrepreneur covering media and content in news, digital platforms, talk, documentary, and entertainment programming.
Currently, she is the Executive Producer of “Basic Black,” PBS’s longest-running live news and public affairs program produced by and for communities of color, and “Open Studio,” a weekly arts magazine program at GBH in Boston. Under Delores’ leadership at GBH, “Basic Black” received the prestigious Boston/New England’s National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (N.A.T.A.S.) Governors’ Award, their highest honor.
Prior to joining GBH, Delores produced stories for nationally recognized programs and networks, “CBS This Morning,” “Good Morning America,” ABC News & News Specials, VH1, BET, and OWN.
Her documentary short, Harlem’s Handmaids, about a congregation of African American nuns living in Harlem, was selected for the Reel Sisters NY film festival and her short screenplay, “Bathroom,” was a finalist at the 2019 Wide Screen Film Festival and a finalist for the New England Film Star Award.
Delores’s career in journalism began in a high school class and later at the Dow Jones NewsFund, (DJNF) journalism program as a kid growing up in The Bronx. Both experiences provided the spark and interest that she needed to ignite her joy of storytelling which continues today.
Her honors include Clarion Awards for story excellence and the MPA Media award for her coverage of mental health issues. She is the recipient of an NABJ award, the Margaret and Hans Rey/Curious George Producers fellowship, and the Case Media fellowship. She has also been nominated for multiple Emmys.
A graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, Delores began her television career at ABC News’ “Nightline.”
I have worked in media for most of my career. Frankly, my passion began when I was a kid in high school. I worked my way up from an intern learning in the industry at a range of companies and organizations – from news to entertainment and a few places in between, where I sharpened my skills and talent as a producer and writer. The desire to tell stories has never gone away. My interest in media and film has expanded beyond storytelling. As a member of the WIFVNE board, I bring a distinctive insight and perspective from my many years of media and communications experience. I’ve been fortunate to work at national network, cable, and local television companies and organizations in the #1 media market in the United States. My skillset also includes working in leadership positions, working as an independent producer, and running my own media company. Also, as a Black woman who has worked in the media industry, I would like to bring my diverse perspective and voice to the organization and hopefully provide a greater knowledge of issues that affect women of color working in media. I believe this will engage members, provide an opportunity to hear and share divergent viewpoints, amplify unheard voices, develop potential opportunities, and expand membership.
If chosen as a new board member, I look forward to bringing my desire to create and extend the great work that WIFVNE is doing, assist in building on current programming, help members move up in their careers, and enter a community of creatives.
I am interested in creating panels and or workshops geared toward women creatives working in the industry, the changing landscape of film and TV as well as issues around diversity, equity, and access. Also, I’d like to look at issues of stress working in the industry. As a member of both NYWIFT and WIFVNE, I am curious how we can leverage the relationship and develop opportunities between the two organizations. Dedicated to film and photography from an early age, Alison Cupples-Archila spent many of her formative years in a darkroom before graduating with a BA in film and photography from Emerson College. She began her career working on marketing videos for non-profits such as the United Way, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. In 2008, Alison started as an account manager in the film/television department at High Output and in 2016 she began to manage a new branch in Brighton (Boston), MA. While at High Output, Alison has collaborated on various educational events about lighting for film, theatre, photography and live events often in collaboration with local organizations such as the Massachusetts Production Coalition, Women in Film and Video New England, and the American Society of Media Photographers. Outside of High Output, Alison’s life-long passion for the arts has kept her involved with the organizing board for Jamaica Plain Open studios and she looks forward to continuing her professional and personal life promoting and building the presence of arts communities.
With over 15 years of professional experience in the film industry in Boston, I have seen more and more women in prominent roles on both major feature films and in the commercial production world. While the progress has been evident even in the past decade, there is still a need to amplify women’s voices and give them a seat at the proverbial table and I look forward to contributing to these efforts at WIFVNE. Because of my role at High Output, I have had the opportunity to connect with professionals from every corner of our industry – from student filmmakers to executive producers on major feature films, from art directors to advertising agency producers. Both my network and my technical expertise will allow me to bring not only my own knowledge but also to partner with experts from all parts of the film and television industry.
I love engaging with people new to the industry and providing entrée into the industry. This has become particularly evident to me when helping to develop the educational initiatives at High Output. I always enjoy the process of passing on my knowledge of lighting and am especially excited to help with the mentorship initiatives with which WIFVNE has had such great success.
Juri Love was born on September 3, 1976, in Japan. AKA "Goddess of Connection", Juri is a musician, model, actor, survivor of abuse and homelessness, motivational speaker, a reporter for The Foxboro Reporter, Reiki Practitioner, Life Coach, and Rotarian. Juri is a scholarship recipient of Berklee College of Music. Juri has toured nationally, performed, recorded produced many albums. She is a former Founder/President of Genuine Voices, a nonprofit which taught music in the Juvenile Detention Center. Juri is a recipient of "Heroes Among Us" from the NBA Boston Celtics, the Volunteerism and Noteworthy Neighbor award from The New England Patriots, and the Paul Harris Award from Rotary International. Her inspiring life was featured in many media including the Japanese Reality Show which aired in 2017 and viewed by 7.5 million people.
Her book A Gift from Adversity ~Overcoming Sexual abuse, Domestic Violence, Homelessness, and Bullying~ became Amazon's #1 New Release in 3 categories.
She is a producer of TV shows at Foxboro Cable Access, short, feature films, and Web series. Juri has received the Women in 48 Team award for Boston 48 Film Project [in 2020] for which she was the producer and team leader. She has recently landed a principal role with A list actors for a feature film written by an Oscar-winning director and writer.
Juri has modeled and acted since the age of 17 starting as a fashion model in Tokyo. She has many careers but one she is passionate about is TV and Film making along with acting. She has organized and produced 2 TV shows at Foxboro Cable Access where she hosts and books guests for a Talk show at Foxboro Cable Access. Also producing 48 hr film projects, short films, feature films, Juri hopes this opportunity will not only expand her knowledge and network but also to be able to provide useful information in making film and TV shows. Juri is passionate about giving back to the community. With the network, hard work, and resources, Juri hopes that her knowledge and experience will be an asset to everyone.
With 12 years of running Not for profit organization, I will like to initiate some useful business program, seminar or share my experience with the members. For example, how to build rapport, how to the fundraiser, how to use elevator pitch, how to multitask, and how to ask and keep great, and trustworthy relationships.
The 2020 Maine Jewish Film Festival is in full swing, and celebrating 23 years by hosting a virtual festival so that film enthusiasts from near and far can watch their program from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Our friends at the Roxbury Internal Film Festival have created a page of COVID-19 related resources. Click here!
Additional COVID-19 resources compiled by WIFVNE, WIFTI, other WIF chapters, as well as other COVID-related news items, can be found in previous News blog posts. Search the word "COVID" in the search box in the footer of this page (look for "enter search string").
Boston Latino International Film Festival (BLIFF) BLIFF kicked off on September 23, 2020 just in time to commemorate the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The event was coordinated by director Sabrina Aviles with the help of volunteers who spent weeks curating a lineup of 32 films created by the Latinx film community for the Latinx community and the world. BLIFF, in light of the unprecedented global situation due to the pandemic, went streaming to accommodate audiences at home. Along with feature documentaries and narratives, the entirely online event showcased a plethora of short film programs, each included four short films in the lineup which were all paid for with a “what you can” fee. These programs were strategically curated, as each had a core message and theme which BLIFF utilized to presented the Latinx community through a wholesome, real, and human lens.
On opening night, the program“El Pueblo Unido” (“The United Town”) became available for viewing. The central theme in this program of films is “People coming together to support each other with a common goal of improving their communities.” The first film in the roster, Boston’s Latin Quarter directed by Monica Cohen encapsulates the core meaning of “El Pueblo Unido.” The documentary focuses on the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain and we meet folks who have been part of the community for decades: Eduardo Vasallo, a Cuban immigrant and owner of the MR. V Auto Parts, and Damaris Pimentel, an immigrant hair salon owner. “For more than 40 years the Latin community has come together to plant a seed of unity in Jamaica Plain. It’s a community that is setting an example of co-living,” Pimentel explains. Co-living is the core of this Latin hub in Boston, as immigrants from all over Latin America cultivated the seed that eventually grew into the resilient community that it is today.
The documentary also highlights the works of Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), an organization whose mission is to “connect to create a more diverse and equitable Boston.” Celina Miranda, the executive director of HSTF, explains that the program “encourages Latin youth to tap into the Latino music origins and to dive into the history.” The organization creates projects such as the Latin Quarter Fiesta, a celebration of Latin and Afro Latino culture for the Latino youth. Ken Tangvik the Director of Organizing and Engagement at HSTF, explains how he, a white man joined the organization because of the Latin Quarter’s vibe, and culture; growing fond of the community, he actively participates in preserving it.
However, just as it touches up on the vibrant side of its history, the documentary show audiences much darker realities. Tangvik talks about the drug crisis that arose in the 1980s, and recalls witnessing dangerous drug dealers infesting the community. Eduardo Vasallo adds onto this tale, explaining though the Latin Quarter “became more diverse” many Americans fled from the region, and “[I]t got to the point that Americans didn’t want to live in Jamaican Plain.” Nevertheless, the residents unified and made it a mission to overcome their hardships and become the clean and prosperous community it once was. The documentary ends on a high note, amplifying what the Latin Quarter means to its residents, as expressed by Celina Miranda: “We’re progressing as a community, having a location is so important for the community because it means being seen.”
Navigating from the themes of keeping the community alive, and advocating for the rights de la gente we dive into more harsher themes with the "Social Justice" program. This program is divided in two: reality and fiction, but these are unified with the theme of showing “just how difficult it can be to get out, or change the circumstances one is born into.” One of the most impactful pieces is the documentary A la Deriva (Adrift) directed by Paula Cury Melo. This documentary touches on teen pregnancy in the Dominican Republic.
It’s a grim topic, as it shows the raw and dreadful side of one of the most prevailing issues of the island. With hard hitting facts such as “22 percent of women in Dominican Republic became mothers by the age of 19,” the audiences are shaken into a rude awakening. We meet young teenage mothers-to-be like Selena, who at only 14 years old is already six months pregnant, and Viazlin, a 12-year-old pregnant from a 21-year-old man. In this documentary, we learn how so many young girls wind up in such heart-wrenching situations: children don’t receive proper sexual education. Selena was a prime example of this, as she struggled to answer the question “Did you use protection?” to which she replied not knowing what that meant.
Dr. Lillian Fondeur an OBGYN and women’s rights advocate, actively advocates for children’s right to receive proper sex education. She preaches about the correlation between proper sex education and many young girls falling victims of teen pregnancies. Dr. Victor Calderon the General Director of Los Mina Maternity Hospital explains “27 percent of maternity wards are occupied by women younger than 18 years old.” He further reveals that the youngest impatient in the maternity ward was just 11 years old. And as the audience begin to wonder the “why?” to this upsetting situation, the documentary lays down the hard fact: religion. The Catholic Church in Dominican Republic has a very strong presence within congress, and abortions are illegal under any circumstance. Despite the plea of many pro-choice advocates, congress and the church maintain an iron clad on their opposition to the legalization of abortion despite illegal abortions being the third leading cause of death among maternal deaths. From another teenage mom, Mabel, we learn how easily girls start to gamble with their own lives. Mabel became pregnant at 16 with twins and practiced an illegal abortion. At 17 she gave birth to a girl, and shockingly admitted to performing 10 more illegal abortions since. Moment by moment, the documentary echoes the theme of the film program: these young girls are born and live in an inescapable circumstance. Audiences see reflected on the faces of young mothers-to-be such as Viazlin’s, the loss of hope and despair as she expresses that she feels like she failed at life. By the end of the film, audiences are left with a sense of helplessness leaving room for only one feeling, bitterness.
Clicking on the "Magical Realism" program, the central message for the audience is to utilize the films as a way to give room and “expand the way [they] see [themselves], and the world.” Among the short films, one that stands out is Light on a Path, Follow directed by Elliot Montague. The film tells the story of Joaquín, a transgender man who lives alone in rural 1990s New England. Joaquin is eight months pregnant and in his last trimester, he comes face to face with a mysterious spirit in the forest, an encounter that prompts Joaquín to go into labor early. The subject matter, the tone, the character himself is a true parallel to the message of Magical Realism, that which appears fantastical is normal in this world. It is truly refreshing to watch a film be truthful to the representation of the Latinx LGBTQ community by casting a transgender actor to play a transgender character. For years, members of the LGBTQ communities have voiced their yearning to see themselves portrayed on screen in a humanistic manner, far from the negative stereotypical roles. Finally seeing a film that does just that, gives everyone a sense of being heard. This film also amplifies what it means to be pregnant or, more appropriately who can be pregnant.
Pregnancy and childbirth have always been associated as a natural occurrence in life for biological women, but watching a transgendered man’s experience is how Light on a Path, Follow becomes a mold breaking phenomenon; it disrupts audiences’ preconceived notions. Lastly, the presence of spirituality and the connection to nature rings closely with many cultures from the Latinx diaspora, which hold close to heart what it means to be one with nature and letting spirits guiding one into the right pathway.
And for the closing date, on September 27th, audiences could watch the program titled “Familia” (“Family”). The short films presented touched up on the themes of “estrangement, siblings, going "home," and family secrets.”
Bibi, directed by Victor M. Dueñas, tells the story of Ben Solís, a young man of Mexican descent receiving the tragic news of his father’s passing. Upon hearing the news, Ben hesitates on returning home, but begrudgingly returns to his hometown to handle the final detailing of his father’s funeral. As audiences immerse themselves into this story, the film flashbacks to a young Ben becoming closer with his father after his mother’s death. The film tackles the themes of loss and single parenting, which plant the seed of relatability and humanity. Their close relationship is maintained through the usage of writing letters to one another. This method of communication reflects with many Latinx cultures; as verbal communication and expression of one’s feelings aren’t the norm.
As the film progresses, Ben’s beginning hesitation on coming home is explained: -with a letter, he confessed to his father that he is gay, prompting immediate rejection from him. The powerful coming-out scene is the most impactful one, as homophobia and machismo are heavily cemented into the Latinx community, especially in the Mexican culture. As Ben and his father become estranged, the viewing public is left with little hope to a good resolution for the young man. However, a refreshing twist hits everyone as Ben’s journey in the film ends as he meets another young, handsome gay man. The exchange of hellos and smiles only mean one thing, the beginning of a love story. Overall, this film was like a breath of fresh air as the main character, a gay man, isn’t shown suffering due to his homosexuality. Throughout modern cinema, gay characters were often seen as lost souls left in a pit of loneliness and despair due to their sexuality. Additionally, many gay characters have been killed on screen sometimes minutes or a few episodes of either coming out or finally being with the ones they love; a trope known as “bury your gays”. Watching a young established and successful, Hispanic gay man have a happy ending sounds almost too good to be true but Bibi is one of those films that lends a hand into painting the Latinx LGBTQ community with more vibrant, truthful, and humanistic colors.
BLIFF, and other Latino Film Festivals, are showcases that deserve more appreciation, as they hold the key to opening the doors for many Latino filmmakers into the world. Conversely, this door works both ways, as it’s a door that offers a peak into Latinx community. By attending Latino film festivals, viewers receive the honor of watching and learning how the Latinx community is doing from its own point of view. Supporting film festivals that celebrate and highlight the Latin community is integral and important because it waters the Latin roots and keeps them alive. Additionally, attending festivals such as BLIFF as members of the Latin community itself means stepping into memory lane as it serves as a tool to remind one of one’s origins. When watching documentaries such as Latin Quarter, audiences will know of how resilient and powerful la cultura can be. With films such as A La Deriva, we step back and remember that the world is still in need of repair. And films such as Light on a Pathway, follow and Bibi show that the voices of the underrepresented communities don’t just echo, they shout clearly and are heard.
The 32nd annual Boston Jewish Film Festival of virtual screenings and events takes place November 4-15, including their Midfest Event: Behind the Scenes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with screenwriter Noah Gardenswartz.
For the film program, listing of events, and to purchase tickets, visit their website by clicking here.
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