Tag Archives: Columbia University


Brincando El Charco

The cult classic film Brincando el charco, a meditation on Puerto Rican identities in the context of mass migration, will screen as part of Columbia University’s Hispanic Film Festival.

Director Frances Negrón-Muntaner will be present to engage in a dialogue with Richard Peña, director of the New York Film Festival, and the general audience.

Despite the director’s original intent as a film for “half a dozen friends” who also shared the pains and joys of migrating to the U.S. over a decade ago, Brincando el charco still seems to have something to say for new audiences.

Wednesday, December 6, 7:30PM

Columbia University
Broadway at 116th Street
Room 517 in Hamilton Hall


Antonia Pantoja

Dr. Antonia Pantoja, Social Work ’54, a pioneer in education, social work, feminism, and civil rights. The founder of ASPIRA, the Puerto Rican Forum,
Boricua College, and Producir, Dr. Pantoja demonstrated the true value of leadership in our community: the ability to create profound change in
all that she touched with her kind hands.

Dr. Pantoja’s life, from her girlhood in San Juan, to her community organizing in New York City and San Diego, to her social and political activism (retirement) in the foothills of El Yunque, Puerto Rico. It is a wonderful work that reminds us to never forget one of our greatest heroes.


Friday, November 9th, 2007

Light Dinner, Film Screening, Q&A with Film Director: 7-9:30pm

Columbia University
Broadway Room, Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York City

Please RSVP to LAACUevents@gmail.com.

Admission: Students, $3; LAACU Members, $10; Non-Members, $15
* Free t-shirt for the first 25 attendees.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Latino Educational Media Center for the completion of the documentary on Dr. Pantoja’s life.
Please support this project in honor of this legendary Latina.

Brought to you by Latino Heritage Month, the Latino/a Caucus, the Columbia Mentoring Initiative, and the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University.

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

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.

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.

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.


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


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 )

Reggaeton – a book party

Meet the Author: Book Party

An Anthology by Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernández

Featured Speaker: Juan Flores, NYU
Presenters: Miguel Luciano, Visual Artist, Alexandra T. Vazquez, Princeton University and Frances Negrón Muntaner, Columbia University.
Music by DJ Mellow G.

Thursday, May 7, 6:30 pm

Faculty Dining Room 8th Floor West Bldg.
Hunter College
68th & Lexington Avenue



Island crisis could fuel more Puerto Rican migration to U.S.

by Jorge Duany, Ph.D., Guest Writer
Orlando Sentinel (Oct 15, 2009)

The signs of Puerto Rico’s acute socioeconomic crisis are everywhere.

The Island’s economy is expected to decline by 5.5 percent this year. Local consumer debt reached almost 23 billion U.S. dollars in 2008. The unemployment rate was 16.5 percent in July 2009. Since 1996, 45,000 manufacturing jobs have been eliminated. For the first time in years, the poverty rate increased during the current decade. The massive layoffs by the Commonwealth government have caused public dismay. Many people are extremely worried about keeping their jobs and paying their bills, taxes, insurance, and mortgages.

One of the traditional strategies in the face of economic difficulties in Puerto Rico has been emigration. An increasing number of Puerto Ricans is seriously considering that alternative, despite the recession of the U.S. economy.

During the current decade, at least one-quarter of a million Puerto Ricans has moved to the continental United States. According to the Puerto Rico Community Survey, nearly 428,000 residents of the Island relocated to the mainland, while about 224,000 returned from abroad between the years 2000 and 2007. According to the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, the net passenger movement to the United States totaled around 297,200 persons between 2000 and 2009. In 2008, 51.6 percent of all persons of Puerto Rican origin lived outside the Island.

Aside from the massive resurgence of the Puerto Rican exodus, the latest census statistics confirm the migrants’ changing settlement patterns. In 2008, the state of Florida had the second largest number of Puerto Rican residents (744.4 thousand), after New York (1.1 million). Between the years 2000 and 2007, five of the ten leading destinations of Puerto Rican migrants were in Florida: Orange, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Osceola counties.

During the same period, 38,257 residents of the Island resettled in Orange County, the center of the Orlando metropolitan area, which has displaced Philadelphia and Chicago as the second concentration for Puerto Ricans in the U.S. mainland. Other popular destinations for the migrants are Hamden County, Massachusetts; Philadelphia; the Bronx in New York; Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut.

On average, contemporary Puerto Rican migrants are younger, better educated, more skilled, and more likely to be bilingual than the Island’s population. Still, it is exaggerated to characterize the entire new migrant flow as a “brain drain,” since the bulk of the migrants has a secondary education and a blue-collar or service job.

At the same time, a growing proportion consists of highly qualified professionals, including medical doctors, engineers, nurses, and teachers. Among the main motivations for this continuous exodus are the gaps in wages, working conditions, and opportunities for professional development on the Island and in the United States. Furthermore, many migrants are seeking a better “quality of life,” referring especially to public services, housing costs, safety, and tranquility.

Finally, the most recent census estimates allow a comparison between the living conditions of Puerto Ricans on and off the Island.

In 2008, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate was 14.8 percent, compared to 10 percent for Puerto Ricans in the United States, 9.3 percent in Florida, and 10.4 percent in Orlando. The median income for Puerto Rican households on the Island ($18,190) was less than half than in the United States ($39,039), Florida ($41,892), and Orlando ($39,778). In turn, Puerto Rico’s poverty rate (45 percent) was much higher than for Puerto Ricans in the United States (24 percent), Florida (17.5 percent), and Orlando (16.2 percent).

Given such wide discrepancies in employment opportunities, income levels, and other economic indicators, the new migrant wave will probably persist, until living conditions on the Island improve substantially. Let’s hope that happens soon.

Jorge Duany is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He is currently the Wilbur Marvin Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies, with a concentration in anthropology, at the University of California, Berkeley. He also holds an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University. He has published extensively on Caribbean migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism. His most recent coedited book is “How the United States Racializes Latinos: White Hegemony and Its Consequences” (2009).

PRdream mourns the passing of State Senator Olga Mendez, 1926 – 2009

Olga MendezBorn in 1926 in Mayaguez Puerto Rico, her academic accomplishments are trumped only by her extensive work in public service. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Mendez earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Columbia University, followed by a PhD in Educational Psychology from Yeshiva University.

Early in her career, Mendez was a strong advocate for improving social services in the community, and became a dynamic leader in the organization of voter registration drives throughout the country. She was elected Senator to the New York State Legislature in 1978, becoming the first Puerto Rican woman to hold the honor in the State of New York.

Mendez was elected as a delegate for the Democratic Conventions of 1980, 1984, and 1988. During her time in the New York State Senate, she served as Secretary of the Minority Conference in 1984, and in 1993 earned the honor of becoming the first Puerto Rican woman to be chosen as Chairperson of the Minority Conference.

In 2004, PRdream honored Senator Olga Mendez when she left office with a reception and performances by Teatro Circulo and El Trio Nueva York at its gallery then on East 106th Street.


Rodolfo F. Acuña weighs in
on the PBS/Ken Burns Controversy

Dear Ms. Mazur:

Please forgive me if I sound a bit exasperated. It is my understanding that the controversy is about the Ken Burns’ documentary and its failure to integrate Mexican Americans and Latinos into the mainframe of the documentary. Mr. Burns has said in the past that he has a right to artistic freedom and has even claimed that he has a constitutional right to his opinion. I don’t disagree with him — and if this were a novel or a work of fiction that would be great. However, we are talking about a historical documentary.

In defense of your showing the Burns documentary, you have listed a half dozen projects that KCET will offer to California viewers, which is great — but it does not absolve the Ken Burns documentary nor the fact that you will be featuring it. That you are advertising it. That you are touting it as true story of World War II.

Just like the warden said in the film, “Cool Hand Luke,” what we have here is a failure to communicate. You would probably understand me better if you had ever been involved in civil rights. The present controversy is analogous to having the premier school in the school district segregated.

When incensed parents complain, you add a bungalow to the premier school and say, “well you have a bungalow.” When the parents further criticize the school, the response is well Mexicans have a half dozen other schools that are integrated, and we just painted them for you.

Frankly, I am too old to buy the cover up. The damage has been done and you are compounding it. Public television did not do anything after Burns arrogantly disregarded Latinos in his baseball and his jazz documentaries. We were promised that next time there would be more care given to accuracy.

Well, you messed up again.

It just shows a basic “I don’t give a shit attitude” on KCET’s part. What should have been done is to send the documentary back to the editing table and Mexican Americans and Latinos integrated into the storyline. It did not happen although in cases involving other groups you have done it. I applaud you for being sensitive to the Jewish, women and African American communities — but you know what — you disrespect Mexican and Latinos.


Rodolfo F. Acuña, PhD
Chicana/o Studies Department
California State University at Northridge



Mare Mazur responds:

Dear Dr. Acuña:

I am very sorry you were insulted by the Ken Burns letter that ran in our September magazine. As the person responsible for the broadcast schedule and our production slate, including the magazine, I can say with certainty that offending our viewers was anything but my intention.

California Connected, which just received the Alfred I. duPonte-Columbia University Award for journalism, just concluded production on a special one-hour episode titled California at War. California at War premieres August 23rd, and will be repeated several times leading up to our broadcast of The War. This program looks at the impact World War II had on California, and more importantly, the impact California had on winning the war. To that end, it includes the history of contribution from the Hispanic community who struggled with racism on the home front while being the most decorated group of the war.

In addition to airing California at War, we renewed the rights to Valor a 30-minute documentary on Latino stories of heroism during World War II, which KCET produced as part of the LA Stories project in 1989. We have also acquired a film by Mario Barrera, Professor Emeritus, Chicano Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez served as the academic advisor on both of those projects.

We are also running Valentina: Mexican-Americans in World War II from our sister station in New Mexico. All of these programs will be heavily promoted in and around The War. It is our expectation that this will give us the opportunity to introduce a wide audience to the history of contribution from the Latino community.

KCET has a long record of representing the Hispanic community in our productions and programming. In 1996 my colleague Joyce Campbell was the Co-executive producer of Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement which won the Nosotros Golden Eagle Award for Outstanding Documentary. She was also the executive in charge of American Family, the first Latino family drama to air on broadcast television, which KCET co-produced with Greg Nava.

In 2006 KCET was recognized by the National Hispanic Media Coalition for Excellence in Television Programming.

Ms. Campbell now serves as our Vice President of Education and Children’s Programming. In that capacity she oversees programming designed to reach the diverse audience represented in the eleven counties we serve.

This department is also responsible for the two shows that give me the greatest satisfaction: A Place of Our Own and Los Niños en Su Casa.

These are companion programs produced in both English and Spanish designed to help caregivers of pre-school aged children better prepare the children in their care for early learning.

These two series were originally developed for California distribution. While running regionally they were recognized with a George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in media, and a local Emmy. The website, which is completely bi-lingual, received the Japan Prize, an international commendation for best website. Based on our success in California, we are
able to make the programs available nationally, and are now being carried in nearly 70% of the country.

As a native Angeleno I have made the commitment that our programming, local and national, reflect the unique and diverse voices of Southern California. Again, I regret that Ken’s letter offended you. My colleagues and I work very hard to create a spirit of inclusion in all that we do, and as I began, I’m sorry that you did not find that spirit adequately communicated.

I do hope you choose to watch California at War and our other programs; we are all proud of the work and hope they resonate with our viewers. I would greatly appreciate your feedback and welcome your call should you have the