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: 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,

How to Build an Igloo

This winter we have more snow on the ground than we could possibly know what to do with it. The bad news is that it is only February, so I’m sure more snow is on the way.

With all this snow, and more on the way, I think we can all prepare ourselves by watching this short documentary on how to make an igloo. No joke, we may need these skills before Spring arrives considering that Mother Nature keeps covering us with her white blanket. A sense of humor is needed to get through this winter, so here are some videos I came across the other day.

The best thing about building an Igloo is that you don’t have to be an architect to build one.

You can watch the beautiful short film shot in 1949 by Douglas Wilkinson by clicking here: Sorry, somehow I can’t upload this to the post, but it is a classic film.

Since we have so much snow…

What about building the world’s largest igloo? We sure have a TON of snow for that!

I think we DEFINITELY can do this.

And this is cheating, unless he made those blocks from snow that was already on the ground which he then compacted in a box to from blocks.

I wish we could all quit you snow, please follow the link to Youtube! It’s worth it!

And tell me this didn’t make you smile:

When all else fails, just make a snowman or snow angels. I’m still trying to finf my snow angel photos, when I do, I’ll update this post.


Women without Men

“What are you doing here? I didn’t know you knew of her work!” “Who doesn’t know of her work? She’s a big deal.” I had this brief exchange of words with an acquaintance I had not seen in a very long time in a crowded auditorium at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. This acquaintance seemed surprised that I was not only aware of, but interested in the work of the Iranian-American visual artist Shirin Neshat. Last night, Neshat talked about her photographic and video work as well as her first feature film Women without Men.

As a renowned artist, Neshat’s interests lies in exploring many social issues including the role of women in Islam, the relationship of gender to Islam itself and the relationship of human beings to their surroundings. Neshat has produced a body of work which is deeply personal and political, reflecting her experiences in Iran and America.

The uses of allegories, symbolism and metaphors have become key defining characteristics of Shirin Neshat’s works, leaving a powerful and long-lasting impression on those who experience them.

The film Women without Men is without a doubt one of the most powerful and achingly beautiful films I have ever seen. It is a highly stylized and highly choreographed film about independence, freedom and democracy, a film that richly tells the story of an era with all its beauty and horror.

And as far as beauty goes, Neshat does not shy away from it. She sees her work as a re-interpretation of elements in Islamic art. The symmetry, harmony, and composition so characteristic of classical Islamic art are also found in Neshat’s photography and video installations. Women without Men is a rich and thought-provoking film, full of questions about the human condition and our quest for freedom.

The film Women without Men has already garnered numerous accolades including the Silver Lion for Best Director at the 66th Annual Venice Film Festival and was the Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival. If this film gets a wider distribution, please do make an attempt to indulge in all its beauty and meaning.