Thursday, September 09, 2010


"Homes for the Homies"

produced by Gloria Morán
13 minutes, 2009

Homes for the Homies, is both the title of this film and the title of the shadow box art collection by artist Cynthia de Losa of San Francisco. This 13-minute documentary explores the way Chicano pop culture figurines are utilized in an artistic and political sense.
Homes for the Homies examines the artistic, social, and political meanings of De Losa’s artwork at the center of a community undergoing displacement through gentrification and where public and private spaces are transforming rapidly, highlighting spaces and places that have undergone dramatic demographic change.
Homies are one-inch figurines molded to represent the eclectic mix of personalities of West Coast Chicano communities. Created by artist Dave Gonzalez, Homies have gone from corner store quarter machine fare to sought-after commodities with collectors engaging in bidding wars. Cynthia De Losa, a 3rd generation native of San Francisco discovered Homies down the street from her work at Precita Eyes Mural Center. Ecstatic, De Losa has been using Homies for shadow box art placing Homies in various iconic locations of San Francisco, creating lively street scenes of a vibrant Latino community.
Calling upon her own memories of growing up as a Pachuca in The Mission District of San Francisco, De Losa creates a scene where these individual figurines create community and finally have a home while simultaneously re-claiming spaces of San Francisco that have since been gentrified during De Losa’s lifetime.
Gloria Morán is a filmmaker based out of San Francisco and currently completing her Master’s degree in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz. Merging theories of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, Gloria’s films seek to highlight Chicana/o and Latina/o art and practice. Her forthcoming film, The Unique Ladies examines gender and location as she follows an all-women’s lowrider car club in San Diego. Prior to her arrival at UCSC, Gloria worked at the youth media lab Conscious Youth Media Crew (CYMC) where she assisted a student directed film, From Low to Show, which explored lowriding and community in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Medellin, ¿Cómo te convierto en un objeto?

Medellin, how can I make you into an object?
Colombia and Mexico, HDV Video, 10min, 2009

Composed in the documentary tradition of symphony of a city, Medellin, como te econvierto en un objeto? /Medellin, how can I turn you into an object? includes panoramic views of the city from the sublimated perspective of “planchas or terrazas”--flat cement rooftops, lookouts and terraces--throughout the city and a score that determines the rhythm and complex relationships between the images, voice over and ambient sound. The sound design captures the undertones of the city emanating from moving vehicles, windows, and bits and pieces of conversations that reveal the general preoccupations of the people. Medellin, como te econvierto en un objeto? /Medellin, how can I turn you into an object? is a journey through neighborhoods that I traveled when I was a child, a farewell written in image.
Medellin, como te econvierto en un objeto? /Medellin, how can I turn you into an object? is a lyrical documentary, love poem, and farewell to the city of youth. The final piece of Triptych Terrazas, the video blends the contrasting landscapes of the two cities into an impressionistic rendition that fuses Medellín, Colombia with Tijuana, Mexico as cultures that are interconnected and related by memory. It is the failed attempt of making the city into an elusive lover and, equally elusive, art object.
Medellín, how can I turn you into an object?/Medellin, how can I turn you into an object? reveals the mirroring effect that contrasting hills create --those to east and those to the west, to the north and to the south-- to form a marking topography of social differences in architecture, class, and the function of the body in the every day life experience of a city. Slowly descending from the slums in the hills to the middle class neighborhoods in the valley and the crowded and clouded by smog downtown, I portray the process by which a city is a palpitating organism embedded in the characters that inhabit it and in those who, like me, have left it. I depict Medellín through the foggy lens and defused color of my memory. Tijuana appears as an elusive but liberating lover who challenges old perceptions and offers a life of new dimensions. The video is the failed attempt of making the city into an elusive love and, equally elusive, art object. The voice over is the long awaited welcoming of maturity, it is a text that representing distance, celebrates the death of the city of childhood, in a memoir of a city suspended in a cloud of truncated memories.
I superimposes memory and chance, theatricality and documentary in a personal representation of the journey of becoming, not concerned with romanticizing migration, or with Medellín’s and Tijuana’s sordid histories. The work combines text, sound and image in the recurrence of time that the medium of video exhibits, to provoke a critical dialogue about the nature of migration.

"The Oak Park Story"

by Valerie Soe and Russell Jeung
documentary, 22 min. © 2010

The Oak Park Story recounts the struggles of three very different families who find themselves together in a run-down slum in Oakland, CA. Khlot Ry arrived first from Cambodia, where she and her granddaughters had fled forced labor camps and invading Vietnamese soldiers. A few years later, Felix and Hortensia Jimenez brought their family across the Mexican-U.S. border without documents, where Felix struggled to earn a living as a day laborer. At the same time, Dan Schmitz left the comforts of his white, middle class upbringing in the suburbs and moved into the apartment directly across from the Jimenez family.
Together, these three households encountered daily life in America’s underclass. Parents raised their children amidst drug dealing, gang violence and prostitution right in their parking lot. Yet their worst problem was their Stanford-educated landlord, who raised rents even when El Nino rains flooded their units. Interviews, home video footage, and photographs from the tenants depict their daily lives in the 1980s and 1990s.
Facing unsanitary housing conditions that led to the hospitalization of several children, 44 households of Oak Park banded together to sue and eventually won a landmark settlement against their landlord. Despite the victory, this too brought about some surprising, unintended consequences.
The Oak Park Story concludes nearly ten years after winning the lawsuit. What have the children at Oak Park learned from their parents’ organizing? How did the lawsuit impact the lives of the undocumented workers, the refugee families, and the other working poor living there? What ongoing social conditions do they continue to face?

Filmmakers’ bios
Valerie Soe
Valerie Soe is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer from San Francisco whose award-winning productions include Mixed Blood; Picturing Oriental Girls: A (Re) Educational Videotape, (Best Bay Area Short, Golden Gate Awards, San Francisco International Film Festival) and "ALL ORIENTALS LOOK THE SAME," (Best Foreign Video, Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani; First Place, Experimental Category, Visions of U.S. Festival). Her work has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the AFI National Video Festival, the World Wide Video Festival in The Hague, and on KQED-TV, KCET-TV and Channel L Cable Manhattan, among many others. Her work looks at identity, culture, mass media, and activism, primarily within the Asian American community. She is on faculty at San Francisco State University's Asian American Studies Department. She is the co-producer, director, writer and editor of the film.
Russell Jeung, co-producer, co-writer
Dr. Russell Jeung is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. He is a sociologist whose research focuses on faith-based communities of color and he is currently on the board of the Chinese Historical Society of America. An ethnographer, he has written a book and several articles on Asian American religions and social justice. He lived at Oak Park Apartments for over a decade, and helped to organize 200 Cambodian and Latino tenants in their landmark lawsuit. He is the co-producer and co-writer of the film.

Produced and directed by Valerie Soe and Russell Jeung
Associate Producer: Grande Lum
Written by Valerie Soe, Russell Jeung, Alex Vargas
Editor: Valerie Soe
Cinematography: Michael Chin
Sound recordist: Curtis Choy
Composer & music supervisor: Camilo Landau
Music : Camilo Landau, Fuga!, Carne Cruda, praCh, Goh Nakamura
The Oak Park Story is a presentation of the Center for Asian American Media with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Funded in part by The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation
Additional support: Bay Area Media Coalition Mediamaker Award Program, San Francisco Film Society Filmhouse Residencies, San Francisco Film Commission
San Francisco State University, Asian American Studies Department.

"Sin País"

produced by Theo Rigby (20 minutes, 2010)

Sin País (Without Country) attempts to get beyond the partisan politics and mainstream media's ‘talking point’ approach to immigration issues by exploring one family's complex and emotional journey involving deportation. In 1992, Sam and Elida Mejia left Guatemala during a violent civil war and brought their one-year old son, Gilbert, to California. The Mejia’s settled in the Bay Area, and for the past 17 years they have worked multiple jobs to support their family, paid their taxes, and saved enough to buy a home. They had two more children, Helen and Dulce, who are both U.S. citizens.
Two years ago, immigration agents stormed the Mejia's house looking for someone who didn’t live there. Sam, Elida, and Gilbert were all undocumented and became deeply entangled in the U.S. immigration system.
Sin País begins two weeks before Sam and Elida's scheduled deportation date. After a passionate fight to keep the family together, Sam and Elida are deported and take Dulce with them back to Guatemala. With intimate access and striking imagery, Sin País explores the complexities of the Mejia's new reality of a separated family--parents without their children, and children without their parents.

"The Apollos" A look back at an effective student campaign to gain recognition for MLK Day. (6 min)
"The Midnight Hour" (7 min) A poetic search for hope during one's darkest moments.
"Momo" (5 min) In a faraway place, an intimate look into the daily routine of family of street vendors.

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