Racialicious

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations. If you've been on the blog, you know how this Tumblr works, too. Including the moderation policy.
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Posts tagged "Maysles Cinema"
image We talk a lot about the creative team behind movies, TV shows, and webisodes. We got the opportunity to actually interview someone who’s a part of that team: film editor and director Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez. As mentioned on the R’s main blog, she’s edited the work of director Byron Hurt and actor/director Vin Diesel. And, as a director, she told the stories of stickball players in Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories. And she was gracious enough to chat with the R about racism in the industry, the representations of people of color in documentaries, and the fillmmaker’s responsibility.
 
In editing documentaries, what have you noticed about the representations of people of color in them? Is that something an editor has a hand in shaping?
 
The editor of color definitely brings their consciousness to editing decisions. I’ve never been asked tomake questionable decisions regarding people of color in any of my work, thank goodness, because every filmmaker I worked for was conscious and political. On “Passionate Politics: The Work and Life of Charlotte Bunch,” filmmaker Tami Gold, who is white and Jewish, was VERY conscious about the inclusion of women of color in her film about a white feminist. Her number one priority was to unpack the race issue of this white feminist who traveled to Africa and Latin America so that she wasn’t seen as a ”missionary” in the negative way because that is not who Charlotte Bunch is. As an editor, I do bring my lens of being a woman of color to every project I work on to make sure the shaping of the footage is as respectful to whatever subject matter we are dealing with.
 
You’re also a director. Why did you make that transition? And, again, how have –isms and –phobias impacted/still impact your work?
 
As a young person, I was an activist involved in anti-police brutality campaigns, in media literacy work, and in deconstructing images for the Latino community so that we, as a whole, can betterunderstand how imagery shapes perception. And filmmakers of color are sometimes guilty of stereotyping too. I was very entrenched in political work and because of that felt an obligation to make “political” media.
 
However, the genre that got me most excited was/is comedy. I finally gave myself permission a few years back to feed this muse and understand that this is my way of still being political, by taking life situations and viewing them with a comical lens. Activists wanna laugh too. As in my editing work, I haven’t experienced the isms - just my own fears and hesitation holding me back. Self-doubt is less of a struggle these days. With my partners Tammi Cubilette and Angelo Lozada, we make short comedies under the name T&A. This year, we’re developing longer content. I still edit docs because shaping documentary storytelling helps invaluably with narrative filmmaking. I recommend every editor to edit at least one of their own films; it becomes glaringly apparent what a director needs to make a film when that director has to struggle with putting the pieces together themselves in the edit room. The director, for example, is forced to think about transitions from scene to scene and even within a scene.
 
What stories about people of color would you like to see in a documentary? And, what stories about people of color do you think are overrepresented in documentaries?
 
I can’t really say that there are certain topics that are overrepresented because if they’re constantly being represented, then obviously that issue is not resolved, such as police brutality, rape, poverty and racism. How we tell these stories is where the true creativity comes in. As a Puerto Rican, I do get tired of docs on Puerto Rico that give the historical chronology of PR’s colonial relationship with the U.S.; it’s hard to get around because it’s such an integral part of Puerto Rico’s story and as often as it’s been told, for some reason, Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Rican relationship to the U.S. isstill misunderstood. I would like to see a doc on Puerto Rico across class and political ideology about life IN Puerto Rico. In narrative, I’m impressed by smart and funny comedies such as Black Dynamite, which takes a genre that could both be stereotypical and empowering, and through the intelligent wit of the “author,” the director be a incredibly sharp commentary about the genre, about race politics that’s very engaging, funny and thought-provoking.
 
Anything else?
 
It behooves all of us as filmmakers & craftspeople behind the scenes to know our cinematic history, as well as our people’s history. Know the pioneers such as Oscar Micheux, Gordon Parks, Lourdes Portillo, Christine Choy, among many others so that we know the struggles that they faced as filmmakers and the topics they tackled, which often are still the same issues we’re dealing with today. Also to state the obvious, know your craft, the history, the trends, what’s coming next. As an editor, I meticulously study narrative and docs, watching and studying every aspect of that particular film. I read interviews on the making of, I watch films closely to study the mise en scene, the edits, the structure. I even study the work of my peers, like T. Woody Richman, Carla Gutierrez and Geeta Ghandbir—not just to bask in pride for them but to appreciate and learn from their mastery, since we all came up together as young filmmakers. It’s exciting to watch us all make our imprint in this industry with as much love, dedication, and consciousness as we do.
 
 
Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez will talk about her work as a film editor and filmmaker at Maysles Cinema in Harlem, NY, on Tuesday, April 2, at 7:30PM. Check here for tickets and more information about the event.
Film editing is why people like movies. Because in the end, wouldn’t we all want to edit our own lives? I think everybody would like to take out the bad parts, take out the slow parts, and look deeper into the good parts.

~~Bob Cohen, director of XXX

Do you live in NYC? Want to learn the art of editing, but can’t quite swing film school? Maysles Institute in Harlem, NY, is offering two workshops on how to do it!

Final Cut Pro for Beginners
Dates:
- Monday February 11, 2013, 6:30pm-9:30pm
- Monday February 18, 2013, 6:30pm-9:30pm
- Monday February 25, 2013, 6:30pm-9:30pm

and 

An Introduction to Premiere Pro 
Dates:
- Monday March 4, 2013, 6:30pm-9:30pm
- Monday March 11, 2013, 6:30pm-9:30pm
- Monday March 18, 2013, 6:30pm-9:30pm

Click on the links to register, and see you at Maysles! 

(via mayslesinstitute)

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This collaboration has been a minute in the works but, considering the cumulative—and sometimes contentious—conversations we have about the subject on the main website, we at the R couldn’t think of a more appropriate film to co-promote with Maysles Cinema.

A summary of The Loving Story, from the Maysles Institute’s website:

This Oscar-shortlisted film is the definitive account of the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage: Loving v. Virginia. Married in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter returned home to Virginia where their marriage was declared illegal—he was white, and she was black and Native American. Hope Ryden’s luminous, newly discovered home movie footage of the Lovings and their feisty young lawyers and rare photography by Grey Villet are stitched together in the debut feature by Full Frame Documentary Film Festival founder Nancy Buirski in a film that takes viewers behind the scenes of a pair of unlikely civil rights pioneers and their real-life love story.

The R’s Associate Editor Andrea Plaid will moderate the post-showing discussion this Sunday, December 16. The movie starts at 7:30PM, and the chat will start about 8:45PM.

Check out the R’s main site for what the critics are saying and the chance to win two free tickets to Sunday’s showing and discussion, and check here for more info. See you Sunday!

**TRIGGER WARNING**

…The Central Park Five revisits New York City’s recent past to tell the story of a pack of ruthless predators.

Two packs, actually: Gotham’s prosecutors and police officers, and its reporters and columnists. Both groups went feral in 1989 against five innocent Harlem teenagers accused and then convicted in a rape and assault.

If the case doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps this word will help: wilding. That’s what police and journalists claimed was the kids’ term for what they did the night of April 19, 1989. In this film, all five former defendants reflect on what happened — one of them, Antron McCray, is heard but not seen — and none utters that verb. It’s just one of many words that were put into their mouths.

McCray and four other boys — Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond
Santana and Korey Wise — were in the north end of Central Park when a jogger was brutally ambushed. But there was no evidence that they attacked the victim, eventually identified as Trisha Meili, or even that they witnessed the crime. The five’s clothing was unbloodied, and DNA found on Meili’s body did not match any of theirs.

The lack of proof didn’t seem to matter. Five years into the crack wars that roiled American cities in that era, New York wanted a quick resolution, not logic or ambiguity. “In those days, there were probably six murders a day,” notes New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer, one of the film’s expert witnesses.

Historian Craig Steven Wilder discusses the role of racism in this and other miscarriages of justice, while social psychiatrist Saul Kassin explains why people come to accept blame for things they didn’t do — and how bystanders come to believe them.

The most devastating commentator, however, is Dwyer, who details the weakness of the evidence and explains how the prosecutors seduced the press simply with a tidy narrative. “Newspapers,” he drolly observes, “love chronologies.”

—Mark Jenkins, “Rape, Race, And The Press Entangled in ‘Central Park,’” NPR 11/22/12

Maysles Cinema is premiering The Central Park Five tonight and through next week! If you’re in the NYC area, please check out the special screening on Sunday, 11/25! The deets below:


SPECIAL SCREENING OF THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE:
@ the Oberia D. Dempsey Center Auditorium 
127 West 127th Street

(between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell) 
Sunday, November 25th, 4:00pm
The Central Park Five 
U.S. Theatrical Premiere 
Dir. Ken Burns, David McMahon, Sarah Burns, 2012, 119 min. 

Film followed by a Q&A with dirs. Sarah Burns and David McMahon and members of the Central Park 5 - Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise. 
 

For more information and where to buy tickets for The Central Park Five, check out the org’s website!