The Boston Latino International Film Festival – Night 5

Now in its tenth year, the Boston Latino International Film Festival has brought to Boston many outstanding Latin American films that explore a variety of topics—from the environment to politics to music and so on. The festival lasts approximately a week and includes two days of free screenings, making it the largest film festival in New England with more free film programs than any other.  Here are some of the films that stood out for me during the fifth night of screenings.

Director: Edy Soto & Ben Teplitzky / 10 minutes/ Mexico – USA / Short

Reservardo, Directed by Edy Soto and Ben Teplitzky. Image credit: Reservado Facebook Page

Set in Ciudad Juarez, but filmed in El Paso, Texas, Reservado tells the story of Xavier, a waiter at one of the most luxurious restaurants in the city. Based on real life events, Xavier wants to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring; however he just has to work twice as hard to save up the money he earns. The filmmakers take a rather intense and serious story and add humor to it, further stressing the current life and death situation in Juarez. Its seductive cinematography makes for a memorable experience.

Sin Pais
Director: Theo Rigby / 20 minutes / USA / Documentary

Sin Pais (Without Country), Directed by Theo Rigby. Image Credit:

One of the most compelling and heartbreaking documentaries on immigration I’ve seen in a long time, Sin Pais is a testament to the nightmare that many immigrants are living today.

Directed by Theo Rigby, winner of the 2010 Student Academy Awards (The Oscar) for Best Documentary, Sin Pais follows the Mejia family as they face their new reality— deportation. Separated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the parents are forced to leave behind everything they worked hard to attain in the United States.  Rigby will take you on a journey you will never forget.

If this documentary ever plays at a film festival near you, I highly recommend you see it. The film has garnered multiple awards and has been the official film selection for countless festivals across the world. A MUST SEE! You can also purchase a copy of the DVD by clicking on the film title above.

Watch the trailer here:

AbUSed: The Postville Raid
Director: Luis Agueta / 96 minutes / USA / Documentary

An intense and infuriating, yet inspiring documentary about the largest, most expensive and most brutal immigration raid in the history of the United States, AbUSed: The Postville Raid exposes the discrimination and abuse that immigrants working for Agriprocessors—a Kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa were subjected to.  Nearly 400 workers were arrested, mentally and physically abused by the company and tortured and treated like cattle while being processed by Customs and Immigration Enforcement. It is a devastating film to watch, but one that will leave you feeling empowered and begging for social justice. You can purchase the film on DVD or ask your library to purchase a copy.

Review: River Street

Saturday May 1st, Daniel Phillips preparing for the installation of River Street (center)

A site specific installation in Hyde Park by Daniel Phillips, River Street fosters an enriching cross-cultural and multi-generational dialogue between people whose memories are encapsulated in the built environment and “outsiders” like me who might be interested in learning about the architectural, industrial, social and natural history of the site in its present state.

According to Dolores Hayden in The Power of Place, historic places help citizens define their public pasts and trigger social memory through the urban landscape. Hayden investigates the concept of “place memory” through philosopher Edward S. Casey’s formulation, in that place memory “encapsulates the human ability to connect with both the built and natural environments that are entwined in the cultural landscape.”

River Street is installed on the former site of what was until 2004, the oldest operating paper mill in North America. Built on the Hyde Park side of the heavily polluted Neponset River, the history of the Tileston-Hollingsworth Paper Company extends as far back as 1733.

Besides its social and industrial history, the site of the mill complex was architecturally significant until recent years when it succumbed to demolition’s wrecking ball. The firm of W. Cornell Appleton and Frank A. Stearns (Appleton & Stearns), and later members of the illustrious Boston architectural firm of Peabody & Stearns, designed an 1890 “handsome” Georgian Revival office building which is no longer extant. In its present state, the remaining scars resulting from the demolition of the site evoke a sense of loss and nostalgia of an era gone-by.

River Street is a multi channel video projection composed of thousands of photographic stills shot on site by Daniel Phillips. For every one and a half minutes of video, it is estimated that approximately 900 photographs are used to create a time lapse moving image. Each photograph captures the passage of time, the crumbling death of the last remaining buildings on site and the slowly renewing life of the Neponset River Reservation. Projected on the loading bays of a dilapidated water pumping station, River Street triggers our memory by capturing those moments that vanish before our eyes. Moments like ice melting from the branches of trees or the rhythmic flow of the river or the transient life of the graffiti in the area, allow us to visually connect the past with the present.

A collaboration between the artist Daniel Phillips and Finnard Properties; the current owners and developers of the site, this one night installation of River Street was presented in conjunction withthe Boston Cyberarts Festival. The installation on Saturday April 30 attracted many members from the Hyde Park and Dorchester communities. “It was wonderful, breathtaking, unbelievable” says Adrian of Hyde Park, “This is my community, of course I had to be here tonight.”

River Street Tower Still #16, Daniel Phillips, 2010

River Street Tower Still #16, Daniel Phillips, 2010

Review: Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens

Photograph courtesy of the artist / David Zwirner, New York. Paradox of Praxis, still from Paradox of Praxis 1, 1997, video, 5

Expecting to encounter sculpture in an exhibition titled Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens, is expecting to be disappointed. When hearing the word sculpture, it is safe to assume that most of us immediately become concern with the technical and aesthetic qualities that are traditionally associated with sculpture. We question whether the sculpture is additive or subtractive, or whether it forms part of a building or it’s a relief panel. In the Francis Alÿs exhibition at the Davis Museum, a viewer’s notion of what sculpture is or should be, is challenged by both the artist and curator.

Born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium and having studied architecture and urbanism in Europe before settling in Mexico City’s historic quarters, Francis Alÿs’ work deal with the surrounding physical and social tensions of this dense Latin American city. There are no sculptures to be found in this exhibition at the Davis Museum or in the artist’s body of work, instead a viewer finds works consisting of performances and their video documentation, works; that capture the “moment” where the beginnings of sculpture are articulated.

In the video Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing), 1997 documents over eight hours edited to five minutes of Alÿs pushing an enormous block of ice around Mexico City, leaving only a small puddle at the end of the day. Paradox of Praxis 1 creates a three dimensional, sculpture like experience by documenting the action of pushing a block of ice. Throughout the performance, Alÿs casts shadows in his path and “pushes sculpture to transparent limits, finally consummated in the imagination.”[1]

Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens features videos, slide projections, drawings and the recently acquired The Sign Painters Series Cityscape, a triptych depicting an urban scene stripped away from any recognizable landmarks. The exhibition primarily takes place in one small gallery with videos and slides projected on three walls. In addition to these, 15 drawings on vellum and 2 color transparencies of the historic quarters are displayed on a light table.

The exhibition at the Davis Museum marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the New England region and anticipates a major career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City this May. Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens is on view at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College until June 5th, 2011.

[1] Lorna Scott Fox, “Where Sculpture Happens” in Francis Alys: A Story of Deception (London, Tate Modern) 196.

Review: The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini

During the sixties and much of the seventies, people lived in a world that changed rapidly in a short amount of time. The politically awkward climate of the era was heightened by the assassinations of Robert and John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., the resignation of Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, the fight for civil rights and other political and social conflicts. These forces ignited the creative spirit of American artists who further explored the turbulence of the times through the art that was being produced.

For those of a younger generation, it is through the New Hollywood and Experimental films made
during the sixties and seventies that the struggles, turmoil and recreational pleasures of the times are experienced and shared. The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini at Emerson College transport the viewer into a world where the villain was larger than a person, or a thing, it was an ideological villain that shaped the lives of every American citizen.

Born in Syracuse, NY in 1930, Aldo Tambellini pioneered the video art movement in the mid sixties by painting directly on film, which resulted in the production of the camera-less series The Black Films. Each of the films in the series is a journey from within, a journey that captivates our senses and stimulates our imagination.

If “to dislocate the senses of the viewer” was one of the goals behind Aldo Tambellini’s Black Films, the outcome has been a highly successful one. The abstracted forms and images in the films recall the palpability of Abstract Expressionism, in the sense that one sees an Abstract Expressionist painting and our immediate is to want to feel the texture. The work of Tambellini is a “primitive, sensory exploration of the medium, which ranges from total abstraction to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and black teenagers in Coney Island.”[1] Black for Tambellini is a color, a color he has developed a profound relationship with throughout his artistic career. In the introduction to the Black Gate “a newspaper dedicated to worldwide unity and interest,” Tambellini writes:

black is space black is sound black is color black is darkness black is anger black is void
black is

Among the most memorable films in the series are Black is and Black TV. Black is incorporates abstract forms alongside images of people marching, horses galloping and tanks, juxtaposed to the pulsating rhythms of African drums, heart beats and women and children chanting “black is beautiful.” Black TV is perhaps the most uncomfortable film to watch of all. The anguish and turmoil of the sixties and seventies is inscribed deep within our thoughts by the haunting facial close-ups and footage of Robert Kennedy speaking at the Ambassador Hotel. Throughout the length of the film, the trauma of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and the fight for civil rights is augmented by the alarming sounds of people experiencing distress and horror. Further adding to the trauma is the voice of radio host repeating the phrase “Senator Kennedy has been shot…Is that possible? Is that possible?” Black TV is painful, disorienting and heart wrenching, crafted to awaken every one of our senses.

Tambellini referred to the Black Films as “paintings in motion” and as I intensely watched each of the seven films, I was reminded of the Suprematist paintings of Lissitzky and Malevich or the Futurist works of Joseph Stella. The films in the installation at Emerson College are presented in an intimate setting and are accompanied by stills and ephemera from various screenings and events organized by Tambellini.

The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini are on view through April 22, 2011 at the Huret and Spector Gallery in the Tufte Performance and Production Center, 10 Boylston Place, 6th Floor, Boston, MA. For more information, please click here.

Aldo Tambellini: The Black Films are a prelude to the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival which is
New England’s premier resource for artists, arts organizations, educators, and corporations who are working at the forefront of art and technology. The festival starts on April 22 through May 8, 2011.

Mark Webber, Independent Film,

The Lantern Festival

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Forest Hills Cemetery was founded in 1848 as a rural picturesque cemetery. Every summer in July, the cemetery organizes a lantern festival inspired by eastern Asian Buddhist rituals. This year the weather was perfect for a night of honoring, remembering and celebrating the lives of those who have left this world. I love events like these because they bring people from all walks of life together in a beautiful setting.

For more information on Forest Hills Cemetery, click here.

For more information on the Forest Hills Educational Trust, click here.


SOuth of WAshington Street – South End

SOWA Open Market

I love Boston in summer for its many outdoor events, including one of my favorites, the SOWA Vintage Market and the SOWA Open Market. The market opened this weekend at a new location just down the street from last year’s and it is better than ever. This year the market feels much more organized and with more sellers, but that could be my perception. 

Moving the SOWA Vintage Market to this new site gives people the chance to peruse the many art galleries and independent clothing and accessory shops in the Thayer Street area. Also, people can visit the many artists studios in the neighborhood during Open Studios or special art walks in summer. Had it not been for this move, it would’ve probably taken me an entire separate trip to see the excellent work  being done by creative artists in the city. 

I’m looking forward to the next many weekends the market will be open and hopefully find something different every time, including some gluten-free baked goods! I know there must be a bakery in Boston or its surrounding communities interested in selling their goods at the SOWA Open Market. I would love to see more vintage clothing or antique dealers this summer. It seemed to me that there were less vintage/antique dealers in comparison to last year’s market, but again that could be my perception. 

The SOWA Open Market is one of the many things that brings life to communities in Boston during the summer and it’s worth the time spent. It is conveniently accessible by the MBTA buses, the Silver Line, and it is only a short and pleasant walk  from the Green Line Copley Square Station and Orange Line Back Bay Station.