Film 267: The Documentary -- Week 7

Women in Social Documentary and Journalism Panel

The class attended a panel discussion organized by Professor of Art and Photography Marcella Hackbardt and myself. The panelists consisted of two alums of ‘10 and ‘09 respectively, Sarah Weiser of Retro Report, Liz Scheltens of Vox and also Marcia Allert who is the director of Photography at the Dallas Morning News.

Eryn Schaff, a staff photographer for the New York Times was supposed to attend as well but had to stay in DC to cover the ongoing impeachment investigation as it unfolds.

The panel discussed trends in the field, the importance of short form documentary in telling important stories and providing context for news of the moment. We also talked about our individual paths after college and how each of us found our way to the positions we have now as well as the evolution of our approaches to the way we make our work and what we consider while creating an ethical process.

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Film 267: The Documentary -- Week 6

This week we discussed interviewing methodology; particularly artist Julie Ault’s observation that a formal interview can make a familiar person feel unfamiliar and it can make an unfamiliar person feel more familiar.

Students took turns telling each other stories while being recorded and asking questions so that we all might have an opportunity to feel what it’s like to sit in the hot seat as it were.

We also discussed visual storytelling without interviews and we watched Daphne Matziaraki’s short film 4.1 Miles — an nytimes OpDoc about the refugee crisis taking place on the coast of Greece.

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Film 267: The Documentary -- Week 5

This week we had an excellent conversation with director Josh Koury of Brooklyn, NY. He co-directed the netflix documentary Voyeur, which was released in fall of 2017. He chatted with us about the challenges of interview/subject relationships, following your personal moral and ethical code while making documentaries and how to get creative with reenactments and Broll.

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Film 267: The Documentary -- Week 4

All our footage has been subtitled as of earlier this week thanks to the services of a company called GoTranscript so now I am able to divide up the interviews and assign them to the class.

Each student will be responsible for editing approximately an hour long interview down to about 5 minutes. We’ll review their progress on these together as a class and eventually I’ll end up using some of their paired down interviews in the final cut of the film. Regardless of whether their assigned subject makes it into the finished film, their interview will become a part of the living archive I’ll create which will go on to become an online resource for both for teachers and professors but also for those who are participating in the new feminist wave in Chile.

Each student will receive an Additional Editor credit on this film and they’ll have input continuously as we go deeper into the project.

***NOT COLOR CORRECCTED ***

***NOT COLOR CORRECCTED***


Film 267: The Documentary -- Week 3

This week we were joined in class by our DP Evan Carter.

He talked about his experiences building a portfolio after college and as a self taught cinematographer, director and editor. He also gave an excellent workshop on how to set up an effective interview using what space is available to you in a given location. He talked about tips and tricks for visual storytelling, creating and lighting a shot that that aligns with the values of the story you’re trying to tell as well as dealing with common challenges when filming in small or less visually interesting spaces.

Students then broke up into groups and did a quick location scout and set up and lit their own mock interviews.

Day 11 & 12

We visited la Casa de la Mujer in Bellavista. The house originally belonged to Margarita Pisano, a writer, feminist and theorist who left the house to the organization after her death.

We also spoke with Cheryl Linett, a feminist performance artist who staged a protest in the balcony of Chilean Congress in Valparaíso.

We also had a great conversation with Antonella Estevez, director of FEMCINE. A film festival for women.

After our final interview we celebrated with Eliana Ortega — a subject who we spoke to early on in production. She was also one of Bernadita’s college professors. We have three generations of women professors involved in this project; Eliana who mentored Berni and then Berni who has mentored me, which I think is pretty great and is a methodological reflection of the values of our project.

Day 10

PHEW. We shot four interviews in four different locations. Lots of hauling our equipment around and a lot of focus to stay sharp and efficient but it was an awesome day.

We began with a trip back to the National Archives where we spoke with Antonella Caiozzi, one of the Archivists in charge of El Archivo de la Mujer; an ongoing project that is fairly new to the archives aimed at preserving the history of feminism and the women’s movement throughout Chile’s history but also during the dictatorship. Antonella is a feminist and an activist as well as an archivist.

Next we drove to Bellavista, an artsy bar-filled district also home to one of Pablo Neruda’s fabulous houses, to visit Eliana Largo. A critic, author and feminist, she made a documentary in 2013 about the history of feminism in Chile called Calles Caminadas.

After Bellavista we headed to Barrio Providencia to speak with a current junior at La Universidad Católica, Javiera Santos, who helped organize and carry out one of the Tomas; a student occupation of the university to demand the administration improve student life in various ways last April. She read a little to us from the list of demands one of which was a school psychologist on their campus. Javiera’s story about the occupation was amazing, it was great to hear about it first hand. These student activists have done so much organizing! It is completely inspiring. It was a lovely and relevant juxtaposition to the older documents containing similar goals/demands that Antonella had pulled out for us in the Archives earlier.

Our fourth and final interview of the day was with Gilda Luongo whose warmth and wisdom was overflowing. She ended up being one of our longest interviews thus far and I’m sure we could have talked to her for hours more.

It was a long but fruitful day. Two more days of shooting to go before we take a well earned break and then I’ll start to go through all the footage we’ve got and start figuring out how to transcribe/translate it all for use in our class!

Day of Departure! 8/3

We take off this evening from JFK, arriving in Santiago early tomorrow morning!

Bernadita left several days ahead of Evan and I to attend a conference in Argentina and then begin scheduling interviews for next week. She has already managed to score an interview with renowned author, scholar and professor of literature, Diamela Eltit. She is also a recipient of the National Prize for Literature.

Also scheduled are conversations with authors Nona Fernandez and Alia Trabuco as well as Eliana Ortega who lived in exile during the dictatorship and went on to become a professor of Latin American Literature at Mt. Holyoke. I interviewed Eliana for my undergraduate thesis documentary at Kenyon and am really looking forward to reconnecting with her.

I’m also preparing our documentary release form which we’ll have each subject sign before they appear on camera. Jami Peele and I spoke at length after the CIP grant was approved about the importance of the transparency of this document. As a documentary film, we are not subject to the same IRB restrictions as a project aimed at gathering data or other types of quantifiable research but we are still ethically bound to create an approach to our subjects, story and research that creates a healthy and sustainable filmmaker/artist relationship with our subjects.

Pre-Production -- July 19

After two weeks in Brooklyn meeting with both Bernadita and Evan, the shoot is starting to take shape.

We have a more finite visual story structure in mind that will include following a college student or recent grad who has been involved in the student movement and protests as well as an older woman who has ties to the feminist collectives. We hope that this will provide an easy visual avenue through which to explore the following questions:

1.     Is there a relationship now between the student movement and the feminist wave?

2.     What is the role of former militants in the student movement?

3.     What are the tensions and what is the relationship between the older feminists from the 80s and the current college students?

Our first week in Chile will consist of as many interviews with as wide a range of subjects as we can manage from all different groups, collectives, universities and identities. We’ll be moving quickly to make sure we get time with everyone that we can. Unfortunately it’s rather difficult to nail down a full interview shoot schedule in advance as the prevailing attitude about planning in Chile tends to be “call me when you get here and we’ll make a plan!” Luckily we have a list of 27 potential interviewees, many of whom have already agreed to talk to us so we’ll have plenty to do when we arrive. We’ll then be able to spend most of the second week following a few subjects more closely and deepening our inquiry while building an emotional connection with them.

Meanwhile, Evan is whittling down our gear to the most useful things we can bring within our checked bags limit. No small feat. We’ll be using a mixture of Evan’s own personal equipment he has graciously agreed to loan to the project as well as Kenyon equipment. We’ll be shooting the film on a Black Magic Ursa Mini and a Black Magic Pocket Cinema.

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Introduction - May 16, 2019

This summer I’ll be working on a short documentary about cross-generational feminist activism in Chile. My co-director Bernadita Llanos and I will be traveling to Santiago in August with our DP, Evan Carter.

The current feminist wave in Chile has brought to the public debate a social outcry condemning violence against women, male privilege and male abuse of power in a wide range of social spaces. This has blurred the private/public divide which traditionally held women back, pressuring them to keep quiet, forget or forgive gender discrimination and other sexual grievances they suffered. The impact of the global #Metoo Movement can now be found across Latin America.

College feminists have called for student strikes, college sit-ins and takeovers in protest of sex discrimination and abuse of power by male faculty. Activists have also organized massive protests against feminicides, denouncing perpetrators and developing an awareness campaign against gender violence. Chile has joined with other countries in the region where the NiUnaMenos (Not One Fewer Woman) campaign and Cuéntamelo (Tell me) have had broad public support and exerted pressure on governments all the way from Mexico to Argentina to reform their constitutions and dismantle outdated and violent forms of a patriarchal culture and its institutions.

During the dictatorship the women’s movement allied with the political opposition and other human rights organizations to end Pinochet’s rule and return to democracy. The advent of democracy in 1990, however, brought about the movement’s retreat when feminist activists joined traditional political parties or kept a double militancy - in the parties and feminist organizations - and women’s demands took the back seat. Today, disappointment with the politics of consensus and neoliberalism which the political elite forged with the military during the transition to democracy, has given birth to the new feminist and student movements which demand cultural and political change.

The film explores the following questions: 1. What is the role of memory of former militants and survivors of politico-sexual torture in the wider society and especially in younger feminists? Have they passed on their experiences of sexual abuse as torture which took place in the last dictatorship? 2. Does the feminist movement intersect with the student movement in the call for a non-sexist education and demand for a new curriculum that includes work by women? 3. What is the agenda of the new feminist movement? Does it link the present with the past?

Our team!

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Director Bernadita Llanos Mardones is Professor of Spanish with a specialty on Latin American women writers and film directors. She received her PhD in Hispanic and Luso-Brasilian Literatures and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She published the book Passionate Subjects/Split Subjects in Twentieth Century Narrative in Chile. Brunet, Bombal and Eltit (2009) and Redescubrimiento y Reconquista de América en la Ilustración española (1994). Many of her articles on Latin American culture and women writers have appeared in well-known American, Latin American and European journals. She has co-authored and edited several books among them Poner el cuerpo: visibilizar y rescatar las marcas sexuales y de género de los archivos dictatoriales del Cono Sur (2017), Chile de Memoria: A 40 años del golpe (2017), Fronteras de la memoria: cartografías de género en artes visuales, cine y literatura en las Américas y España(2012), Paisajes de Chile Actual: Arte, Cine, Narrativa, Poesía y Teatro Contemporáneo (2009), Letras y proclamas: la estética narrativa de Diamela Eltit (2006), and Reinas de otro cielo. Modernidad y autoritarismo en la obra de Pedro Lemebel (2004). 

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Co-Director Martha Gregory is a filmmaker, editor, writer, director and professor of film at Kenyon College. She received her MFA in Film from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2016. Martha’s most recent short doc, Three Red Sweaters, won Best Documentary at Aspen Shortsfest as well as the Jacob Burns Creative Culture Award at Middlebury New Filmmaker’s Film Festival in 2017. It is a Vimeo Staff Pick and appears on Short of the Week. She was an additional editor on both One Vote, a feature doc that premiered at the Omaha Film Festival and the narrative feature Solace directed by Tchaiko Omwale which premiered at the LA Film Festival in 2018. She is currently editing Kenyon College’s first feature film Gotta Get Down to It by Jonathan Tazewell. www.marthagregory.com @marmot88

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Director of Photography Evan Carter is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker. He started in film as an assistant editor at The Smithsonian Channel in Washington, DC. When he moved to NYC, he started working as a director and cinematographer, and filmed several short documentaries for Al Jazeera and Vox Media. This past year he was a camera operator and assistant editor on the Emmy award winning travel show, Bare Feet. A collaborative spirit is at the core of everything he does.