Women’s History Month may be over, but at LPB it’s always a perfect time to highlight women filmmakers behind a camera. A January 2020 study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative looked at the top 1,300 films from 2007 to 2019 and cited that across those 13 years, the ratio of female to male directors was 1 to 20. Of the 57 directors noted in the study, 46 are white women and 11 are from underrepresented ethnic or racial groups.
While the film industry continues to need work on increasing the career opportunities available to women, especially those of color, LPB strives to open up such opportunities. In 2019 alone, over half of our funding recipients were women. We reached out to three of our past filmmakers from the cities of Miami, Los Angeles, and New York, and asked them to share what’s behind the passion that drives their work. Two of them dove deep into a first-time role and another marched on with years of experience. The outcome? Three purposeful and inspirational films. You can currently stream all of these films online – we hope you’ll enjoy reading and watching.
Adriana Bosch – “American Experience: American Comandante”
Adriana Bosch is an independent documentary filmmaker with over three decades of experience. She came across the story of “American Comandante,” while working on another series called “Latino Americans”. The film follows the story of a man caught between two nations — stripped of his American citizenship, but ultimately imprisoned and executed by the Cuban regime for which he fought. “Morgan had been a hero of my aunt Siria when I was growing up as, with many Cubans, they loved the idea that a handsome American was fighting against Batista and was part of the Revolution,” says Bosch.
“As a documentarian of American History I was able to use my education and intellect and empathy to tell the great stories of this nation, but the personal connection and the passion that people perceive in my work is very much a result of those connections. Latino stories whether Cuban or Central American and certainly those of immigrants in the United States are stories of loss and triumph against adversity. I would say my work is permeated by longing… for what is lost, and for what might have been.”
Bosch recently premiered her newest film “Letters to Eloisa,” at the Miami International Film Festival on March 8, 2020. “The audience wept for Lezama and wept for the collective sense of loss that the film expressed. In personal terms I was happy to be able to highlight some of Cuba’s great cultural renaissance in the 1960s and convey a longing for what might have been had the promise that Lezama identified as ‘the ring that, as in ancient mythologies (was found) at the bottom of the fountain’ had been fulfilled,” she says. You can find more information about “Letters to Eloisa,” at its website: www.letterstoeloisa.com.
Watch the full film here: American Experience: American Comandante | Prime Video
Pamela Chavez – “Caracol Cruzando”
Pamela Chavez is an independent animation writer, director & illustrator. “Caracol Cruzando,” is her first foray as a writer and director and is based on Chavez’s own immigration story. “As an immigrant who crossed the border as a child, the story was close to my heart… it allowed me to tell a story that was personal, a story I believed needed to be told, and a story that I felt could help others,” she says. The film follows Anais, a young Costa Rican girl whose migration across the US border takes her on a journey through a world full of mythological and fantastical characters who help her find voice in the face of doubt and risk.
“I felt called to create an immigration story [that] children of all ages would be able to connect to. A lot of children migrate with their families, I wanted to acknowledge that experience by creating something that was uniquely for them. Once I realized the power of this narrative, I knew it could help children heal from what can often be a traumatizing experience.”
Chavez’s work focuses on Latinx and queer women of color/community of color experiences. “Being a Latinx animation filmmaker is a huge part of my lens. I’ve always been interested in telling stories about our experiences…not all Latinx people are alike but we all have parts of ourselves that are worth sharing. When I approach my work, I know very well who I am and what I’m representing. Because of that, I don’t take opportunities to lead for granted,” she says. You can follow her work on her website at www.pamelachavez.com.
Watch the full film here: Caracol Cruzando | PBS Online
Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez – “Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories”
Sonia Gonzalez is a NYC-based comedy writer/director and editor. “Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories,” was her first documentary and explores the culture around the New York City game of stickball (street baseball). Stickball is a way of life for many of the blocks in the Bronx and Gonzalez witnessed this while growing up there in the 1970s. She was inspired to create the documentary after attending a panel on the history of East Harlem at the Museum of the City of New York. The panel included an older generation of stickball players who shared stories of how the game brought them together racially.
“I followed up with them right after the panel and decided to make a documentary about them, even though I’d never made a doc before. Being a Puerto Rican filmmaker definitely granted me more access into the present-day stickball community, which is predominately Puerto Rican. They were proud and more willing to share personal stories because they knew “one of us” was authoring the story.”
Gonzalez is currently working on a comedy drama about a group of female friends who are in their 40s. “When I was a young woman, I remember “not seeing” middle-aged women and now that I am a middle-aged woman, it is very much a trip! I’m pretty inspired and consumed about writing about this time in my life,” she says. Gonzalez is also the Co-Creator and Director of GET SOME! Web Series. You can check out more of her work at www.getsomewebseries.com.
Watch the full film here: Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories | Vimeo