Screenings & Events
MAY 10th @ 6:30PM: Bronx, New York, join us for a FREE screening & panel hosted by the NYAFF and New York City Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. REGISTER HERE!
MAY 9th @ 7:00PM: New York City! NYAFF Art & Activism: Personal Journeys panel. REGISTER HERE!
MAY 6th @ 2:00PM: Harlem International Film Festival Screening
SOME GIRLS is a feature documentary that explores issues of identity within the Latina-American community by focusing on a group of troubled teenage girls in a Bronx-based suicide prevention program who feel rejected by mainstream America, but are transformed through an exploration of their roots, followed by a trip to the seat of the Americas. On that journey to modern-day Dominican Republic, the white supremacist narratives about American history they’ve been taught are challenged, leaving them free to re-construct their own respective identities. What does it really mean to be American? And, more importantly, what does that look like?
Driven by severe identity issues linked to depression, culture and societal baggage, Latina teens have the highest suicide and suicide ideation rates in America. The statistics are disturbing: Nationally, one in seven Latina teenagers will attempt suicide. This trend has remained steady for more than a decade with Latina-Americans having much higher suicides and suicide ideation rates those of their white and Black counterparts. New York City, where the film is primarily shot, is the epicenter of this startling trend. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Latina-American teens generally attempt suicide at rates far greater than their non-Hispanic counterparts in New York City – more than twice the rate of white youth (14.7% versus 6.2%) and 44% more frequently than teenage African-American girls (14.7% versus 10.2%). And the numbers, from the time we started filming five years ago to now, have only gotten worse.
Told from director Raquel Cepeda’s point of view, SOME GIRLS is shot in HD, primarily in New York City and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, mixing vérité and, sparingly, animation. Being a member of the community she is documenting gives the director intimate and direct access to the characters and their families. While we follow and test a group of seven teenage girls from LIP, the film focuses on two central characters: fifteen year-old Puerto-Rican/Col0mbian-American Ashley, and sixteen year-old Panamanian/Dominican-American Maria Celeste. Both of these girls were born in the Bronx to immigrant parents and are struggling, in different ways, with adolescence, fighting Latina stereotypes and their respective racial and ethnic identities.
As the documentary unfolds, the film’s protagonists begin to develop a curiosity about where their ancestors come from. Ostensibly, they are Dominican, Puerto-Rican, Central and South American. However, Latinxs, being the genetic circumstance of the Columbus arrival to the New World, are more than what meets the eye. And, by reconsidering American history from the point of view of the hunted, rather than the hunter, we’ll challenge the whitewashed accounts taught to children across the nation.
SAM POLLARD is an Academy Award nominated film and video editor, and a documentary producer/director whose work spans almost 30 years. Most recently, Sam Pollard directed and produced the critically acclaimed documentary Slavery By Another Name, recounting the many ways in which American slavery persisted as a practice many decades after its supposed abolition. He began his career in 1989 with Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads and received an Emmy for an episode he produced. Between 1990 and 2000, Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee’s films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, and Bamboozled. He recently won his sixth Emmy for best editing on the HBO documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.
HENRY CHALFANT is best known for his photography and film documentation of urban youth culture. He has co-authored the definitive account of New York graffiti art, Subway Art (Holt Rinehart Winston, N.Y. 1984) and a sequel on the art form’s worldwide diffusion, Spray Can Art (Thames and Hudson Inc. London, 1987). In 1983, Chalfant produced the PBS documentary, Style Wars, the highly regarded film about graffiti and Hip Hop culture, and directed Flyin’ Cut Sleeves, a documentary about South Bronx gangs, in 1993. He produced and directed Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank in 2002. His film From Mambo to Hip Hop was featured in the Latino Public Broadcasting series, Voces in 2006-2007, and won an Alma Award for Best Documentary.
STEVE ZEITLIN is the director and cofounder of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of New York City’s—and America’s—living cultural heritage. City Lore works closely with New York’s diverse communities to develop strategies for validating and disseminating their cultural heritages. He has also co-produced a number of award-winning film documentaries including How I Got Over; The Grand Generation; Free Show Tonite, about the traveling medicine shows of the l920s and 30s; and the recently completed From Mambo to Hip Hop, broadcast on public television in the fall of 2006, and winner of an Alma Award for Best Documentary. In addition, he coproduced the documentary DeAf Jam about a group of teenage American Sign Language poets with Judy Lieff, funded by ITVS, premiered in November 2011.
HAROLD MOSS has spent his career fusing storytelling, technology and a passion for change-making media. Notably, Harold created the three-minute cartoon “A Brief History of the USA” in Michael Moore’s Academy Award–winning Bowling for Columbine (2003), and was a producer of the 2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning and Oscar-nominated documentary, Trouble the Water. He has provided animation direction for Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, both Joe Cross Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead documentaries, and Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
MIKE HARLOW has been working on social issue documentaries for over twenty years. He has worked with on Sam Pollard on Passin’ it On, and Henry Chalfant on the ITVS Alma award-winning documentary, From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale. Other highlights include: A Farewell to Arms; Europe’s Polluter; Border Business; PBS’ MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour; North- South; and, Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television. Harlow has collaborated with filmmaker Beverly Peterson on The Invisible Revolution, Defining Life (which Harlow co-directed), Andre’s Story, and Sandra’s Web. He’s a frequent collaborator with filmmaker Judith Helfand, most notably on The Uprising of’34 (co-directed by George Stoney), and Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Comedy.
BOBBY SANABRIA drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, recording artist, producer, filmmaker, conductor, educator, activist, multi-cultural warrior and multiple Grammy nominee, Sanabria has performed with a veritable “Who’s Who” in the world of jazz and Latin music, as well as with his own critically acclaimed ensembles. His diverse recording and performing experience includes work with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Charles McPherson, Mongo Santamaría, Ray Barretto, Marco Rizo, Arturo Sandoval, Roswell Rudd, Chico O’Farrill, Candido, Yomo Toro, Francisco Aguabella, Larry Harlow, Henry Threadgill, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mario Bauzá. He composed an original score for the Alma award-winning ITVS documentary, From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale.
JUDY KARP, an Emmy Award winning sound recordist, has traveled the globe working on award-winning social issue documentaries and feature films since receiving an MA in Communications from Stanford University more than 30 years ago. Some of her major credits include Paris is Burning, The War Room, Thin, Girlfight, and six independent features directed by John Sayles. Most recently she worked on Mondays at Racine, an Academy Award nominated documentary profiling a beauty salon on Long Island that opens it’s doors to women fighting cancer, which premiered HBO last fall.
Credit: Henry Chalfant
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