Thursday, June 30, 2011


A few days ago I met up again with Alan, my editor. He was fresh off a pretty harsh gig an I was fresh off my mourning period for my movie, and we talked about what now.

Overall, we both agreed to go forth as organically as possible, following the story chronologically and tying it all together with, gulp, VO narration. I realize that this whole process has been very similar to the making of A Return On Their Sacrifice, the first doc about Maximon I made my sophomore year of college. That, too, was elaborate and difficult to piece together until finally, after failed efforts 1-1,000 I finally gave in to voice over, which I had been avoiding, and that helped me finally give all of the information I needed to give and tied all of my footage together. I am hoping the same thing happens now.

In order to get the material I need for my narration, I am starting a second blog. A secret blog, muhuhuhahaha, that none of you avid readers can access. It's just a blog to write about the whole event from my point of view, without regard to formalities or anything. My editor Alan and I will be the only ones privy to what is there and we can use it to get to the core of the story as seen by me.

I think it is only because I have so accepted this need for revising that it did not bother me that I got two more grant or program rejections. Sundance Doc Fund was even kind enough to send a letter and not just an email, signed with a pen and everything. It's ok- they probably saw the problems with the earlier direction we were taking and those are the problems we are working on now.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Excuses to choose from... (this time I spelled it right)

It starts off that you make excuses. That's the easy part. But then you get to the point that you no longer believe your own excuses and so of course no one else does. So then what? Now you know that anything you do that brings attention to yourself will make all the more evident to anyone that you've done fuck-all for quite some time now. And then, out of shame and fear of what to write to excuse your inexcusable absence, you post-pone longer. It's like finally getting off your ass to jog- the longer you wait the more you know it's gonna hurt.

So why did I stop to begin with? Mostly because when things continue to be tough and spread thin, sputtering in this start-and-stop rhythm. I'd write fervently about the grants and programs I'd apply to and then would just shy away from writing at all when I got turned down. Id write about the new trailer we are working on, and that would get delayed. So I was discouraged, okay? That is why I was not writing.

I also did get a lesson recently in the realities of constructive criticism. My plan was, and to an extent still is, to make a little packet to send to people in Guatemala who could be interested. Part of that packet was a trailer, a less than five minute summary of what I was going for. Making this was a great exercise for Alan and I because it brought out in a small scale the problems that we were facing in the film's structure on a larger scale. After about 15 different versions, we thought we had it and showed it to someone in the industry.

Ouch. First off, was the observation that we should forget about 5 minute trailers and focus on the bigger picture. Fair enough, though it is so often hard to balance how much energy and money to spend on the producing of this film and how much to spend on directing it. It is the indie catch22.

However, we did show this person what we had of the film so far and the constructive critique rained down. It was all full of useful observations and notes, but more and more it rendered useless months of work until we once more faced the structural drawing board.

It is true you don't have to listen to every comment someone says, and I didn't. But most of what this person said made too much sense to ignore. So, still reeling from this harsh feedback, I focused on getting through finals and graduating, then finding a job, before I really thought about sitting back down with my editor and once again finding a new approach.

About a month ago I ran into another respected industry member in the subway who I had not spoken with for about 6 months so we arranged for coffee. It was not until we met that I truly felt I was ready to tackle this film again. She listened to my concerns, which I made sure to tell her in a manner that did not reveal just how much the scared me, and she offered such simple, doable solutions. Solutions that honestly I would have been able to see myself, were I not so close to my own project. So now, with my wits back about me and my confidence re-inflated, I am trying once more to brush the dust off and get this film going. I'm starting with this blog.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Classes and Essays and Background Info

So, as many of you know, I am currently taking classes at NYU. Last semester I took a class though the Spanish dept called Myth & Literature, focused on what can be learned about past and present mythologies of indigenous Latin Americans' through fictional or quasi-fictional writings. For my personal projects in that class, I focused on Maximon as a mythological entity and wrote two essays: one about his current controversies and practices (very much a synthesis of A Return On Their Sacrifice,) and one about his murky origin.

This semester, for Spanish-American Literature, we began by (re-)visiting the Popol Vuj. I found it so facinating to re-read these texts that I read once upon a time in high school in Guatemala, probably to immature and worried about social pressures to really appreciate it fully. And now, after spending several years looking into Maximon and having visited the Association of Mayan Shamans and such, I find so much evidence of elements of ancient practices that still survive, if only barely.

Things like the red Tzite beans from the 'Whistling Tree' (pictured above), which in the Popol Vuj are used to divine the future and the past, is still used by the Guatemalan indigenous, and it is what Maximon is supposed to origially have been made of. Also, for example, the importance of the 4 cardinal points, and a color associated with each, all colors of variations of corn: white, yellow, red and black. These colors, each pertaining to a particular cardinal direction, are also still used in the practice, as can be seen by the flags (first picture), the weaving (left) and the decorative painting of the ceiling (below).

I am posting here both my essays, both in Spanish. - I admit they are not properly cited, though I can say that a lot of it has been my own experience in speaking to people, my conversations and interviews with Roberto Cabrera and Vincent Stanzione, and Vincent Stanzione's book "Rituals of Sacrifice". I am also posting a poem I read in class about the colorful corn. The pictures in this entry are also pictures I took myself last in the Association of Mayan Shamans, last time I went down to shoot in Guatemala, 2009.

El Fenómeno de Maximon y Judas

En el pueblo de Santiago, a las orillas del Lago Atitlán, hay dos creencias fuertes, fervientes y contrarias. En el patio de la parroquia, una antigua estructura colonial, se juntan las dos creencias. Pues ahí, afuera del monumento sirve de hogar a la creencia Católica que dejaron implantada los españoles, esta la capilla de Maximón, el Santo exiliado pero no olvidado, que aun desde los márgenes del patio de la catedral, ejerce su influencia sobre la gente indígena Quiché.

Al venir a Guatemala hace cientos de anos, los españoles trajeron con ellos la religión Católica e intentaron imponerla sobre las gentes de América. En cada país hay ejemplos del fenómeno producido cuando los intentos de evangelizar de los españoles resultaron en creencias mezcladas. En Guatemala, el híbrido más ejemplar es el de Maximón/San Simón.

¿Qué es Maximón? Maximón es un personaje muy popularmente venerado en Guatemala, originario de las creencias de los indígenas Quiché. El “santo” Maximón, o San Simón, le provee a sus veneradores lo que ellos le pidan, sin escrúpulo a la posición moral del pedido, con la condición que le provean con sus ofrendas de cigarros, dinero, comida o, preferiblemente, alcohol. Maximon no esta ligado a ninguna religión en el sentido convencional y por ende es venerado por católicos y creyentes de la moderna religión Maya.

No esta totalmente claro cuál es el origen de Maximón. Si uno le pregunta a cualquier creyente, “?quién es Maximon?”, las respuestas normalmente dicen que él es “El Abuelo” y que existió hace “cientos de años”. La mayoría de las explicaciones propuestas por antropólogos dicen que Maximón es la evolución de la deidad Rilaj Mam, un dios ligado a la lluvia y a la cosecha del maíz. Otros cuentan que era un dios de la sexualidad. De igual manera, Rilaj Mam se representa en la cultura Quiché con un “bulto” de mantos amarrado con una pita y se le llama el “abuelo amarrado”, mas o menos pronunciado “Maximón” en el idioma Quiché..

Cuando los evangelizadores españoles vieron el amplio rango de veneradores de Maximón, inevitablemente quisieron deshacerse de el. Ya para entonces había empezado el proceso de convertir a los indígenas y habían tenido éxito. Sin embargo, así como en todo America, había una barrera de idiomas, lo cual forzaba a los Españoles a evangelizar utilizando símbolos y otros métodos visuales. Tomando como base el catolicismo, que ya se volvía mas popular, compararon a Maximón a Judas Iscariote, el traicionero de Cristo, diciendo que era anti-cristiano y debía ser eliminado, así como lo fue Judas Iscariote. El ejemplo visual que utilizaron fue de colgar a Maximón, así como fue colgado Judas.

Este método no funcionó, pues parte de la tradición de Maximon era que morían cada año, con el fin de la cosecha, y resucitaba. El mensaje general que se entendió en la población fue de que el equivalente a Maximon en la nueva religión era Judas. No importaba que Judas era traicionero, pues Maximon también tenia un lado oscuro.

La confusión se volvió aun mas compleja por el hecho que hay dos Judas en la Biblia: Judas Iscariote y el Judas Apóstol. Para los indígenas no hay distinción entre los dos Judas y ambos representan una cara de Maximón. Esta dualidad facilitó la cristianización de los indígenas ya que su deidad más popular aparentemente tenia un lugar el catolicismo. Con tal de aprovechar que San Simón/Maximón/Judas/Rilaj Mam atraía gente a la nueva religión, se le proveyó a “San Simón” su propia capilla dentro de la catedral en Santiago, Atitlán. Ahí la gente le encendía velas a Jesús y a Maximón igual, y le llevaban a Maximón su incienso y sus ofrendas vulgares. Sin embargo esta convivencia no duro, y poco a poco se fue expulsando a Maximón de la iglesia. Hoy en dia la capilla de Maximón esta a las orillas del patio de la iglesia, y solamente ha sobrevivido ahí porque para mucha gente aún no hay cristianismo sin Maximon.

El 28 de Octubre, celebrado en la iglesia Católica Romana como el día de fiesta de Judas el Apóstol, se considera en Guatemala el Día de Maximón. Es el día cuando se celebra el “cumpleaños” de él, y se le dedican sacrificios y fiestas en todo el país. Pero aun así, la fiesta Católica en la cual mas atención se le pone a Maximón es Semana Santa. En Semana Santa se prepara a Maximón para morir con la cosecha y re nacer con las semillas de ese nuevo año. Maximón y Jesús se ponen lado a lado, se les lava la ropa y se les da ofrendas. Cuando, de acuerdo a tradiciones Guatemaltecas, la procesión de Jesús sale de la catedral para hacer su ronda por todo Santiago Atitlán, pisando las alfombras de aserrín y flores que se han creado por todas las calles, a Maximon se le saca de su capilla, con su ropa nueva del año, e interrumpe la procesión, detrás al Cristo muerto y delante de la Virgen de luto.

Y en los últimos días de la Semana Santa, así como es la tradición en Guatemala, se cuelga a Judas el traicionero. Por todo el país se ven los muñecos ahorcados colgando de las ventanas. Pero si uno ve cuidadosamente, en muchas iglesias y en muchas casas, el hombre que cuelga de la nuca no se le viste con los mantos y sandalias de un contemporáneo de Jesús. El ahorcado se viste con el sombrero y botas de vaquero y los pañuelos el cuello con los que se le viste al santo Maximón.

“El Abuelo Amarrado: El Origen Nebuloso de Maximon”

Es importante, antes de empezar este ensayo, aclarar de que el contenido histórico sobre qué es Maximón/San Simón que voy a presentar viene, no sólo de investigar libros y sitios de web si no también de entrevistas que yo he conducido y experiencia propia. Anteriormente escribí un ensayo muy general detallado las características mas modernas de lo que es Maximón, así que éste ensayo se concentrará más en su origen. Es también importante mencionar que hay muy poca concesión en cuanto a hechos históricos entre todas las fuentes que mencioné, así que es imposible acertar con total certitud cuál es la versión correcta, si es que tal cosa existe.

Una cosa que sí parece ser bastante aceptada acerca de Maximon en todas las versiones que acumulé, es que al principio habían cuatro Maximones, uno para cada punto cardinal y que esos cuatro originaron de un mismo “palo de pito”. Hay que entender que Maximon, mientras comúnmente se distingue como un muñeco bien vestido, con sombrero, bigote y cigarro en sus labios, consiste en su interior de un matorral enrollado alrededor de un pedazo de madera, amarrado con una pita. Ese ‘bulto’ se considera el corazón y la esencia de Maximon, el origen de su magia, sobre el cual se le pone una máscara de madera y su ropaje para volverlo mas antropomórfico y por ende mas accesible a sus veneradores. Es de ahí que se deriva su nombre, ya que en Tzu’tujil ‘MaXimón’ quiere decir ‘Abuelo Amarrado”. La mayoría de practicantes, fanáticos o shamanes a los cuales yo les he hablado o cuyas historias he leído, no han podido decir más sobre el origen histórico y tangible de esta deidad; la mayoría logran solamente contar historias vagas y aparentemente no arraigadas a ningún tiempo específico. He encontrado solamente una historia, adaptada de tradiciones orales del pueblo Tzu’tujil de Santiago Atitlán en el Altiplano de Guatemala. Es en este pueblo, alrededor del lago Atitlán, que se origina Maximon.

La historia los Atitecos, durante una época de crisis moral en su pueblo de Santiago (aunque es imposible que se hubiese llamado “Santiago” el pueblo ya que los Españoles aun no habían llegado a Guatemala para entonces,) rezaron a sus dioses que les mandaran a alguien o algo para ayudarles. Fue entonces que unos comerciantes, encaminados a un mercado, pasaron un “palo de pito”, o “tzité”, un árbol con propiedades narcóticas, mencionado en el Popol Vuh, que ha sido un árbol sagrado desde la época Maya. Al pasar, el árbol les silbó, haciéndose distinguir. Los comerciantes le preguntaron al árbol si les quería ayudar, y el árbol les dijo que sí. Le preguntaron que si quería ser guardián del pueblo, de sus esposas y sus negocios, y el árbol dijo que sí. Le preguntaron si estaba dispuesto a lidiar con todos los males y las oscuridades de los humanos y de nuevo el árbol dijo que sí. Le preguntaron si estaba dispuesto a cambiar de formar conforme fuese necesario para hacer su trabajo, aunque fuese convertirse en un perro o un zorrío (mofeta) y el árbol dijo que sí y soltó el aroma ágrido de cigarro que se parecía al olor de un zorrío. Los comerciantes celebraron de que habían encontrado la madera de la cual crearían un hombre. Les rezaron al Corazón del Cielo y Corazón de la Tierra y besaron la tierra sagrada sobre la cual nacieron y en la cual se convertirían al morir. Ya para entonces era de noche, se tomaron unos tragos, y cortaron el árbol. Se dice que les tomo cuarenta golpes de sus hachas para crear la cara de madera de El Mam y con eso fue creado el líder y maestro de los Shamanes, las comadronas, los adivinadores, cantantes y bailarines, de los comerciantes y sus esposas, bien portadas en sus casas.

El transcriptor de esta historia, Vincent Stanzione, (un antropólogo excéntrico de Colorado quien ha vivido sumergido entre los Atitecos de Santigo desde los años ochenta), admite dentro de la misma historia que las tradiciones orales de los Tz’utujiles son extremadamente fluidas y que con frecuencia una misma historia es contada de manera totalmente diferente con tal de que su mensaje sea conveniente para aplicar a una dada situación. Por ejemplo, se cuenta que el origen de la depresión moral que había descendido sobre el pueblo Tz’utujil era el resultado de una mujer infiel, esposa de un comerciante, que fue descubierta con su amante y, siendo bruja y volátil, empezó una conmoción que eventualmente resultaría en la degradación de los valores del pueblo. Dependiendo de quién cuenta la historia, la moraleja pone en culpa a la mujer, a su esposo, al pueblo o aun al mismo hecho de ser seres humanos con instintos de animal.

La historia del origen de Maximon continua, contando como las hermanas y esposas de los comerciantes les llevaron a los hombres, exhaustos de trabajar con la madera toda la noche, una bebida de maíz que servia para nutrir y dar energía. El hombre de palo, el Maximon, gimió de placer al ver a las muchachas Mayas, expresando libremente el sentimiento de lujuria que los hombres mismos estaban sintiendo. Los hombres bebieron de la bebida de maíz, el maíz siendo como el semen viril que engendra a la tierra fértil, y empezó a llover. Por eso es que el Mam empezó siendo un dios de maíz, representando la fertilidad y sexualidad. Las mujeres procedieron a crearle un ropaje al Mam, quien no funcionaba sin la magia combinada de el hombre y a mujer. Fue así que ambos sexos contribuyeron a la creación del Mam.

Esta historia es la mas detallada y mas basada en cuentos orales existentes que he encontrado, pero aun así muchos antropólogos guatemaltecos no están de acuerdo con esta historia. Tal vez ellos creen mas en alguna otra variación. De igual manera, estas historias se conocen ahora casi solamente dentro de la comunidad de antropólogos que estudian estos fenómenos y se ha olvidado o diluido en el conocimiento general de la gente que practica su fé con Maximon. No estoy segura si ésto es a causa de malentendidos causados por diferencias en el idioma y que los practicantes que he entrevistado no han sabido cuáles son las palabras correctas en español, un idioma que no les es nativo, para contar estas historias que aun se pasan oralmente de generación en generación. Tal vez la gente Maya, o Mayense como se le dice al pueblo de descendientes de aquellos que crearon las pirámides, una cultura que se extinguió cientos de años antes de la llegada de los españoles, ha sido tan fragmentado a causa de invasiones externas que el hilo de la historia se ha perdido y la gente practica solamente con los elementos mas generales y vagos de su practica, adaptándola y re-inventándola. Asi como las historias orales de los Tz’utujiles, parece ser que la historia de Maximon también es flexible y se presta para ser adaptada y re-inventada de acuerdo, no solo a las necesidades del pueblo en cualquier momento dado, si no a la falta y perdida gradual de información, llenando los huecos en la historia con nuevas creencias y religiones que, lejos de contradecir sus creencias previas, han sido absorbidas, re-emplazando los detalles perdidos de una religión oral.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting Ducks In a Row

I have four a applications filled out and submitted that only the DVD of our material and some printed and signed forms sent in to be done.

My editor is currently working on the scenes and clips that will go on the DVDs to send

My brother, a graphic designer, is working on a face lift for the official website and on the graphics for a catalog-quality hard copy of our prospectus

My aunt who is a writer is helping me polish and perfect the text for the prospectus- and help me get a logline I like!

A friend of mine in Guatemala, who is also in film, is helping me track down the necessary news footage from the trial in 2008. Huge task that I cannot do without being in Guatemala.

And I am still applying, writing, sending, checking, submitting, burning, etc etc etc trying to get all my ducks in a row.

This is what I feel like:

And yet, after being scattered all over, the duckies all fall into place and keep going. Aw.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Log Line difficulties

In the past years I have written many, many versions of this film's logline. I have never been happy with them. I am usually fairly good with words, and yet it seems when it comes to my own project, I cannot seem to find a way to say what I need to say.

My brother recently sent me the initial design for the brochure/catalog thing that I am going to be sending out to friends and family. The design, I told him, was great! But the text, he told me, wasn't. So I have been trying to revise it.

I think I get lost in the text. I have to say the same thing so many different times in so many different ways for all these grants and proposals and websites and stuff. Each time I have to cater to a slightly different reader, splitting hairs as to what to say or what not to say, counting words and worrying about saying too much, being too sensationalist, not saying enough and being dull. Arg!

i can get very frustrated, despairing that I don't know what I am doing. I guess that is a normal way to feel, but knowing that fact comes as little consolation when you are actually feeling that. So I will return now to my drawing board. If I had written all these different texts on paper Id be drowning in little crumpled paper "basket balls," gnawing at my pencil.

Ok then, more coffee....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

perfect weather to fill out grant applications

My editor, Alan, just stopped by my place. I appreciate him coming to me while he was in the area because it is a miserable day in terms of weather- just icy cold rain all day long. Which is why I have spent most of the day in my jammies, filling out grant applications form my bed.

POV is now complete and I am working on the Sundance Documentary Fund. Alan came over to discuss the DVD submission materials. What to include, what is too rough, what is important enough, etc. Fun fun fun.

NYWIFT sent out this email earlier this week, which I have found very helpful:


Deadline: February 4, 2011
For complete information visit:

The grant supports first time documentary makers with travel and accommodation at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, April 14-17, 2011. For four days, grant recipients will be given access to films, participate in master classes and be mentored by experienced filmmakers.

Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder and live in the continental United States; any age 18 or older. By "first time filmmaker," they mean someone who is in the early stage of their documentary career and has not yet received significant recognition (such as major festival play or broadcast). All applicants should anticipate finishing their first project by March 2012. You still qualify as a "first time filmmaker" if you've made shorts or student projects, worked professionally as a crew member on other people's films, or if you've recently completed a documentary that hasn't been released yet. The grant is open to students and non-students alike.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
ATTN: Garrett Scott Documentary Grant
324 Blackwell Street. Suite 500
Washington Building, Bay 5
Durham, NC 27701
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2. RISING VOICES MICRO-GRANTS: Citizen Media Outreach Projects
Deadline: February 4, 2011

It has been more than three years since Rising Voices began with a simple mandate: to help bring new voices from underrepresented communities to the global conversation through the use of citizen media. They have been accomplishing that by providing microgrant funding, as well as technical and mentoring support to their grantee communities. Ever since the first microgrant competition was announced in May 2007, they have provided seed funding to 24 projects from around the world to help turn ideas into reality. The diversity of these grantee projects has made Rising Voices a unique place on the web to have a firsthand look at places around the world, such as Tamatave, Madagascar and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, through the first-person accounts of these new bloggers.

Beginning on January 11th, 2011, Rising Voices is launching the latest round of microgrant funding and is now accepting project proposals from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or individuals for funding of up to $4,000 USD for digital media outreach projects around the world. Ideal applicants will present innovative and detailed proposals to teach citizen media techniques to underrepresented communities that are poorly positioned to discover and take advantage of tools like blogging, video-blogging, or podcasting on their own.
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Deadline: February 9, 2011

Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grants are announced twice a year. Since its inception, the Fund has supported more than 500 films in 61 countries. A committee of human rights experts and film professionals make recommendations from projects submitted by filmmakers from around the world. The Fund reviews between 1,400 and 2,000 proposals annually, choosing 35-50 for support each year. In funding such work, the Documentary Fund encourages the diverse exchange of ideas that is crucial to fostering an open society, raising public consciousness about human rights abuses and restrictions of civil liberties, and fostering an ongoing dialogue about these and other pressing social issues.

Sundance Documentary Film Program
8530 Wilshire Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-3114
Tel: 310-360-1981
Fax: 310-360-1969
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Deadline: February 14, 2011

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Creative Producing Fellowship is a year-long program for emerging American producers ready to take their next project to the screen. The Fellowship focuses on supporting the next generation of independent producers to help develop their creative and strategic skills for a complex marketplace and encourage a holistic approach in their collaboration with directors and writers. Candidates must have produced at least one short or feature-length narrative or documentary film (no more than two narrative features total) and have a legally-optioned scripted narrative project in hand with a director attached. Candidates may not be the writer or director of the submitted project. For guidelines and the application, visit:

Please submit your application package to the following address:
Attn: Rebecca Green
Creative Producing Fellowship
Sundance Institute
8530 Wilshire Blvd, 3rd Floor
Beverly Hills, California 90211
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5. WGBH LAB OPEN CALL: Stonewall Uprising and Gay Rights in 2011
Deadline: February 14th, 2011

The WGBH Lab TeamWe have a great new opportunity for all aspiring filmmakers, video journalists and new media makers. In partnership with the PBS show American Experience, which is airing the film Stonewall Uprising next spring, they are asking for videos that tell the story about the gay rights movement happening today in your community. Help share new views of this important civil rights story by contributing your own.

Your video could be one of five to win a $1000 prize and maybe even a chance to air on PBS after the film. Video submissions will become part of a contest and guest judges, including prominent gay rights advocates Cyndi Lauper and Dan Savage, will help decide who wins. The deadline for submissions is February 14, 2011. Find out more about the application process and what makes a winning video on the open call home page.

WGBH Educational Foundation
One Guest Street
Boston, MA 02135
Tel: 617-300-5400
Attention: WGBH Lab/Filmmakers in Residence
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New Deadline: 5 PM, February 18, 2011

POV, public television's premier showcase for independent, non-fiction film is seeking to support emerging filmmakers through its Diverse Voices Project, a co-production fund supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

POV, public television's premier showcase for independent, non-fiction film is seeking to support emerging filmmakers through its DIVERSE VOICES PROJECT, a co-production fund supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. POV values exemplary storytelling, well crafted aesthetics, compelling characters and real-life drama shaped by the unique perspective of a filmmaker with something to say to a large audience. POV believes in presenting the work of filmmakers that reflect experiences not commonly represented on television, offer a springboard for discussion, and provide a deeper understanding of the world we live in. All submissions must be received by 5 PM, February 18, 2011. This is an arrival deadline, not a postmark deadline. Submissions received after January 14th shall be entered in the following submission cycle unless an extension is granted by POV.

Diverse Voices Project
American Documentary | P.O.V.
32 Broadway, 14th floor
New York, NY 10004-1635
Tel: 212-989-8121
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Deadline: Ongoing

Firelight Media’s Producers’ Lab is a mentorship program for independent producers of color. Participating producers work with award-winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson, and his team of senior producers, writers, editors, new media, and fundraising specialists to complete their projects for a national broadcast. The Lab also provides quarterly workshops and seminars to their producers on relevant and contemporary topics.

Mable Haddock spearheads this exciting project as Director. Haddock served as founding President and CEO of the National Black Program Consortium (NBPC) for 25 years.

Firelight Media started the Producers’ Lab as a way to provide infrastructure support for producers of color to help overcome some of the barriers to completing their film or video. Services include support and consultation in the areas of writing, treatments, budgeting, script development, editing, and other areas as needed. In the future, they will have editing suites, a screening room, and a safe place for producers to create and complete their work.

Mable Haddock
Director, Producers’ Lab
Firelight Media
68 East 131st Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10037
Tel: 212-234-1324
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Deadline: Initial Letter of Inquiry: February 21, 2011
(Spring Funding cycle opens online: January 17th, 2011)

The Fledgling Fund supports innovative media projects that can play critical roles in igniting social change. We believe that film and other creative media can bear witness to the challenges faced by vulnerable individuals, families and communities in ways that statistics can not, and that it can create a broader understanding of social problems and inspire concrete action. We also believe that well-structured and creative audience engagement initiatives can leverage media's ability to ignite social change by moving people from awareness to action.

The Fledgling Fund
162 Fifth Avenue Suite 901
New York, New York 10010
Tel: 212-242-1680
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9. "smARTpower" Artists Exchange Initiative of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Deadline: February 28, 2011

smARTpowers will send fifteen U.S. artists abroad to work with local artists and young people around the world to create community-based art projects. Travel opportunities of up to 45 days will be awarded to selected artists to design and develop programs in cooperation with local arts organizations in host countries including China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kosovo, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Venezuela. smARTpower will support the development and implementation of community-based art projects that engage youth and other local residents, including artists. The projects are strongly encouraged to create a tangible legacy of the work accomplished through smARTpower in a variety of visual arts media, including but not limited to painting, sculpture, drawing, video, installation, photo-based work, public art, and interdisciplinary projects. Participatory work is strongly recommended and encouraged. Artists will address a full range of relevant subjects including, but not limited to, women's empowerment, the environment, health, education, and civic engagement.

Emerging to mid-career artists are encouraged to apply. Finalists will be identified through open competition and selected by a national advisory panel of artists and art professionals. Each recipient will be provided with an honorarium of up to $11,000.00, travel funding, a budget for materials of up to $10,000.00, resources for documentation (including photography, video, and web posting), and on-site logistical support. Proposals must be submitted ONLINE ONLY by midnight, February 28, 2011.
For complete information, visit:
Mailed applications will NOT be accepted. NO PHONE CALLS, PLEASE.

smARTpower is an initiative of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
administered by The Bronx Museum of the Arts

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You Traveling For Business or Pleasure?

I am now back in NYC after a near one month vacation. That was the purpose of the trip: to spend the holidays with my family, who all live far away, and go down to St. Lucia where my father now works. Sweet.

However, since there was/is still filming to do for the documentary, I once again had to tag that on to the trip, which is quite a mammoth thing to just "tag" on to an already hectic trip. Not only does it mean that on top of traveling with Christmas presents and clothes for weather from 0°-100° F, my laptop and my dog, (yes, I travel with my 5lb dog Cosmo,) I also had to carry a twenty lb tripod and a camera and a mic stand and cassettes. Which was fine, sure, I live in NYC and am used to lugging all sorts of things around in transport. I didn't even mind the fact that the mic stand (a metal disk and foot long pole that screws on) apparently looked like some sort of explosive device because I got asked to step aside so they could swab all of the stuff down with gun-powder-detector-wipes.

The main difficulty was the fact that I was supposed to interview my family but both them and I were supposed to be on vacation. So lets just say it was hard to get them to cooperate, especially since I had to get ALL of them to cooperate simultaneously. We had a full house with brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents and three small dogs, so even if I got one person to agree to be interviewed, all the others had to agree to not be present, not use the dishwasher, toilet, air conditioner or washing machine, all of which were in pretty constant use that week. And finding the time to do these interviews, which all in all took over an hour each, was a challenge when there was Xmas shopping to do, gifts to wrap, restaurants to dine in, dogs to take out, and family members to chill with.

I lugged the equipment down to St Lucia for new years, with all my good intentions, and did not film a thing. Yikes! By then I was pooped, I wanted to also enjoy being in this new Caribbean country I had never been in, and I also had the task to re-decorate and re-upholster all of my parents' house there. My dad was also constantly working, and there was always either non-stop rain (which clanged loudly on the tin roof), or farmers using a weed-wacker to mow the substantial lawn. There just didn't seem ever to be a good time, and before I knew it, it was time to go.

I was able to get interviews from my sister (on Christmas day,) my grandfather (the day before he left,) and my mother (yesterday, the day before we both parted ways.)