Posts Tagged ‘Amsterdam Avenue’

HISPANIC NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL – 2nd EDITION November 27 – December 1, 2007

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Presented by Columbia University and Instituto Cervantes in collaboration with The Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Curated by Marcela Goglio and Claudio Iván Remeseira.

FREE ADMISSION. Photo ID may be required at door. To make a reservation, please reply to this e-mail. For further information, call (212)854-6698

Tuesday, November 27 , Instituto Cervantes, 211 East 49th Street. 6 p.m.-8p.m . EL CANTANTE, Dir Leon Ichaso, 2007, 116m
*Filmmaker Leon Ichaso will be present.

El Cantante is the dramatic-biography of Puerto Rican salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe. The film follows Lavoe’s (Marc Anthony) passionate relationship with Puchi (Jennifer Lopez) and his skyrocket to international fame. But even when he has it all, Lavoe is unable to escape the allure of drugs and his personal pain.

THE FOLLOWING SCREENINGS WILL TAKE PLACE AT:
Davis Auditorium, Columbia University
530/533 West 120th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)

There you’ll find an iron gate and the inscription “Morris Shapiro Hall” on the wall.
Just walk through the gates and take the elevator to Davis Auditorium (one stop).

(http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cssr/davis_directions.html )

Wednesday, November 28, 8-10 pm: THE KRUTCH , Dir Judith Escalona, 2004, 29m.
*Filmmaker Judith Escalona will be present.

The Krutch is a surreal narrative about a Puerto Rican psychoanalyst with a long-suppressed identity problem that erupts with some dire consequences. The film is unique in exploring the mental anguish and shame associated with racism. Stylistically akin to German Expressionism with an eye towards Buñuel, it occupies an absurdist space that keeps it from descending into the maudlin clichés of realism. With Jaime Sánchez as the mysterious Dr. Gúzman and Cathy Haase as his unsuspecting patient Mrs. Kleist.

PRECEDED BY:
TWO DOLLAR DANCE , Dir Yolanda Pividal, 2006, 17 m
*Filmmaker Yolanda Pividal will be present.

Every weekend, hundreds of Latino immigrants pack the dance clubs of Jackson Heights, Queens. There, they meet women who will be their dance floor partners for two dollars a song. Through the eyes of Victor, a patron, and Liz, one of the ballerinas, this film dives into the solitude and expectations of men and women who leave their families and countries behind to work in the United States.

and

LA BRUJA: A WITCH FROM THE BRONX, Dir Felix Rodriguez, 2005, 50 m.
*Filmmaker Felix Rodriguez will be present

Art, labor and family blend in this intimate documentary about performance artist Caridad De La Luz, better know as ‘La Bruja’. Born and raised in the Bronx, this daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants takes the number 6 train to downtown Manhattan where she performs at popular New York City venues. She reads her poetry in Joe’s Pub, stages her one-woman show in the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and performs at Def Poetry Jam. But opportunities are scarce and she struggles to make ends meet in an industry where ‘to keep it real’ often means to work for free.

Thursday, November 29: 8-10p.m.: SOY ANDINA, Dir. Mitch Teplitsky, 2007, 67m
*Filmmaker Mitch Teplitsky will be present.

After 15 years in New York, Nélida Silva returns to her birthplace in the Andes to fulfill a lifelong dream of hosting the Fiesta Patronal––a week of dance, music, and ritual honoring the town’s patron saint. But Neli’s changed, and so has the village. At the same time, Cynthia, a dancer raised in Queens by her Peruvian mother, embarks on her own journey, determined to know the real Peru. A cross-cultural road trip, propelled by traditional music and dance rarely seen outside of Peru, but with a universal core story: the yearning for roots and connection in a globalized world.

Friday, November 30th , 8-10 p.m. FROM MAMBO TO HIP HOP: A SOUTH BRONX TALE , Dir Henry Chalfont, 2006, 55m
*Filmmakers Henry Chalfont and Elena Martinez will be present.

The film is a portrait of the South Bronx, the beleaguered New York community that was infamously destroyed by urban renewal, arson, gangs, drugs and violence. Yet at the same time, this borough contributed enormously to the popular culture of the world and has had an impact way beyond its size. In the 1950′s, the streets pulsated with the rhythms of Cuba and the hot new urban sounds of Latin Jazz, Mambo and later Salsa. On these same streets in the 1970′s, a new generation spun records, rapped and danced to the funky beats of Hip Hop. From Mambo to Hip Hop is the story of how an oppressed community can survive and thrive through cultural expression.

Saturday, December 1st , 8-10 p.m. : WASHINGTON HEIGHTS , Dir Alfredo De Villa, 2002, 89m
*Filmmaker Alfredo De Villa will be present.

Washington Heights tells the story of Carlos Ramirez, a young illustrator burning to escape the neighborhood and make a splash in downtown’s commercial comic-book scene. When his father, a bodega owner, is shot in a burglary attempt, Carlos is forced to put his dream on hold and run the store. In the process, he comes to the realization that if he is to make it as a comic artist, he must first engage with his own community.

Judith Escalona’s THE KRUTCH at the NY Hispanic Film Festival 2007

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

THE_KRUTCH_1.tif

The Krutch is a surreal narrative about a Puerto Rican psychoanalyst with a long-suppressed identity problem that erupts with some dire consequences. The film is unique in exploring the mental anguish and shame associated with racism. Stylistically akin to German Expressionism with an eye towards Buñuel, it occupies an absurdist space that keeps it from descending into the maudlin clichés of realism. With Jaime Sánchez as the mysterious Dr. Gúzman and Cathy Haase as his unsuspecting patient Mrs. Kleist.

Wednesday, November 28, 8PM – 10PM

Davis Auditorium, Columbia University
530/533 West 120th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)

There you’ll find an iron gate and the inscription “Morris Shapiro Hall” on the wall.
Just walk through the gates and take the elevator to Davis Auditorium (one stop).

For more info:
(http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cssr/davis_directions.html )

For Puerto Ricans, Sotomayor’s Success Stirs Pride

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

By DAVID GONZALEZ
New York Times (August 6, 2009)

In the summer of 1959, Edwin Torres landed a $60-a-week job and wound up on the front page of El Diario. He had just been hired as the first Puerto Rican assistant district attorney in New York – and probably, he thinks, the entire United States.

He still recalls the headline: “Exemplary Son of El Barrio Becomes Prosecutor.”

“You would’ve thought I had been named attorney general,” he said. “That’s how big it was.”

Half a century later, the long and sometimes bittersweet history of Puerto Ricans in New York is expected to add a celebratory chapter today as the Senate confirms Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Her personal journey – from a single-parent home in the South Bronx projects to the Ivy League and an impressive legal career – has provoked a fierce pride in many other Puerto Ricans who glimpse reflections of their own struggles.

“This is about the acceptance that eluded us,” said Mr. Torres, 78, who himself earned distinction as a jurist, novelist and raconteur. “It is beyond anybody’s imagination when I started that a Puerto Rican could ascend to that position, to the Supreme Court.”

Arguably the highest rung that any Puerto Rican has yet reached in this country, the nomination of Judge Sotomayor is a watershed event for Puerto Rican New York. It builds on the achievements that others of her generation have made in business, politics, the arts and pop culture. It extends the legacy of an earlier, lesser-known generation who created social service and educational institutions that persist today, helping newcomers from Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Yet the city has also been a place of heartbreak. Though Puerto Ricans were granted citizenship in 1917 and large numbers of them arrived in New York in the 1950s, poverty and lack of opportunity still pockmark some of their neighborhoods. A 2004 report by a Hispanic advocacy group showed that compared with other Latino groups nationwide, Puerto Ricans had the highest poverty rate, the lowest average family income and the highest unemployment rate for men.

In politics, the trailblazer Herman Badillo saw his career go from a series of heady firsts in the 1960s to frustration in the 1980s when his dreams of becoming the city’s first Puerto Rican mayor were foiled by Harlem’s political bosses. Just four years ago, Fernando Ferrer was trounced in his bid against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

All those setbacks lose their sting, if only for a moment, in the glow of Judge Sotomayor’s achievement, which many of her fellow Puerto Ricans say is as monumental for them as President Obama’s victory was for African-Americans. It has affirmed a sense of Puerto Rican identity at a moment when that distinction is often obscured by catch-all labels like Latino and Hispanic – and even as it is subjected to negative comparisons.

“Many elite Latin Americans have implied that Puerto Ricans blew it, because we had citizenship and did nothing,” said Lillian Jimenez, a documentary filmmaker who co-produced a series of television ads in support of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination. “But we were the biggest Spanish-speaking group in New York for decades, and bore the brunt of discrimination, especially in the 1950s. We struggled for our rights. We have people everywhere doing all kinds of things. But that history has not been known.”

That history is in danger of disappearing in East Harlem, long the cradle of Puerto Rican New York. After waves of gentrification and development, parts of the area are now being advertised as Upper Yorkville, a new annex to the predominantly white Upper East Side. While the poor have stayed behind, many of East Harlem’s successful sons and daughters have scattered to the suburbs.

“We have a whole intellectual and professional class that is invisible – people who came up though the neighborhood, with a working-class background, who really excelled,” said Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy.

“But it’s so dispersed, people don’t see it. They do not make up a real, physical community, but they have the identity.”

For those who paved the way for Judge Sotomayor, embracing that identity was the first step in charting their personal and professional paths out of hardship. Manuel del Valle, 60, an overachiever from the housing projects on Amsterdam Avenue, made the same leaps as the judge – to Princeton University and Yale Law School – but preceded her by five years.

Taking a cue from the black students at Princeton, he and the handful of working-class Puerto Ricans from New York pressured university officials to offer a course on Puerto Rican history and to admit more minority students. They saw their goal as creating a class of lawyers, doctors, writers and activists who would use their expertise to lift up their old neighborhoods.

“Talk about arrogance,” said Mr. del Valle, who now teaches law in Puerto Rico. “We actually believed we would have a dynamic impact on all the institutions American society had to offer.”

Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, he said, is a vindication of those efforts.

“We were invisible,” he said. “She made us visible.”

In New York, many have welcomed the judge’s visibility during a summer when the most celebrated – and reviled – local politicians were two Puerto Rican state senators who brought the state government to a standstill by mounting an abortive coup against their fellow Democrats.

“She really came at a moment when there is a public reassessment of the value of identity politics through this brouhaha in the Senate,” said Ms. Davila, a professor of anthropology at New York University who has written extensively on Puerto Rican and Latino identity. “Here came this woman who reinvigorated us with the idea that a Latina can have a lot to contribute, not just to their own group, but to the entire American society.”

But it is among her own – in the South Bronx, East Harlem or the Los Sures neighborhood of Brooklyn – where Judge Sotomayor’s success resonates loudest, for the simple reason that many people understand the level of perseverance she needed to achieve it.

Orlando Plaza, 41, who took time off from his doctoral studies in history about five years ago to open Camaradas, a popular bar in East Harlem, sees her appeal as a sort of ethnic Rorschach test.

“Whether it’s growing up in the Bronx, going to Catholic school or being from a single-parent household, there are so many tropes in her own story that we feel pride that someone from a background like ours achieved something so enormous,” he said. “This is the real Jenny from the block.”

And it is on the block, among the men and women who left Puerto Rico decades ago so their children might one day become professionals, where her story is most sweetly savored. The faces of the men and women playing dominoes or shooting pool at the Betances Senior Center in the Bronx attest to decades of hard work.

Many of them came to New York as teenagers more out of despair than dreams. Lucy Medina, who arrived in the 1950s, worked as a keypunch operator and in other jobs as she singlehandedly raised two children. Today, her son is a captain in the city’s Department of Correction and her daughter is a real estate executive.

Impressive as the judge’s accomplishments are, Ms. Medina is more impressed with the judge’s mother, Celina Sotomayor, who did what she had to do in order to raise two successful children in the projects.

“Her mother and I are very similar,” said Ms. Medina, 77. “I know what she went through. We sacrificed ourselves so our children would get an education and get ahead. A lot of women here have done that. We stayed on top of our children and made sure they didn’t get sidetracked.”