Flamboyan is working closely with twelve arts organizations on the island to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts in Puerto Rico with an additional round of grantees to be announced this summer. This series will spotlight all twelve Arts Fund grantee organizations.
They say an image is worth a thousand words, and if the image is a reflection of who you are as a person, a community or as a people, then it is priceless.
Puerto Rico has a long history of contributions to the art of filmmaking. From fiction to documentaries, the work of our artists has been recognized on the island and abroad. Thanks to this body of work, we have been able to tell our stories ourselves.
Taller Cinemático is a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of Puerto Rican culture through cinema and to making media accessible to communities and individuals of all ages and social groups. It supports independent productions that address social issues with a unique perspective about Puerto Rico’s cultural complexity.
We have asked them to answer five questions about their work and the future of their organization. Here are their answers.
What’s the story behind the creation of Taller Cinemático? What motivated you to found it?
We (Carla Cavina and Víctor González) founded the organization in 2002 when we were young and inexperienced filmmakers. We wanted to use filmmaking and theater as tools for changing and transforming our island. That was sixteen years ago. During our first eight years, we visited close to 20 municipalities in Puerto Rico to conduct workshops on filmmaking and community short filmmaking with the Communication Project of Channel 6, a public broadcast television station. Over time, we faced various challenges to finance our projects and became aware that, apart from our country’s social needs, there were specific needs the film industry was facing beyond technical training or the lack of graduate filmmaking programs. For the last eight years, we have been dedicated to developing workshops aimed at communities as well as young aficionados and professional filmmakers. In addition, we have produced several educational videos and documentaries for non-profits and their social awareness campaigns. We have worked on the development of several movies and documentaries through the isLAB project and as a fiscal agent for other filmmakers. As part of our mission during these 16 years, we have created spaces for internships and/or paid work for many of the participants of our workshops.
What are your main achievements?
The body of work Taller Cinemático has built for the last 16 years is robust. One of our projects, isLAB, has begun to yield the expected results. Since 2016, various films that were part of the Ibero American Film Development International Workshop or those to whom we served as fiscal agent have premiered. The films are: El hombre que cuida (2017, fiction, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), Si Dios quiere Yuli (2016, documentary, Dominican Republic and Haiti), Cuentas Pendientes (2016, documentary, Puerto Rico) with isLAB; and Extra Terrestres (2017, fiction, Puerto Rico-Venezuela) and Ser familia (2018, documentary, Puerto Rico), as fiscal agents. For a better idea of the kind of projects we have worked on and for more information about our trajectory, you can visit www.tallercinematico.com.
What was the reality of your organization before receiving the Flamboyan Arts Fund grant?
The hurricane [María] affected our operations in 2018. Before receiving the grant from the Flamboyan Arts Fund, our organization was only offering the intensive summer workshop on filmmaking and acting: Verano de Película, which we have been doing non-stop for the last nine years. The hurricane hit us at a moment in which we were producing several films for non-profit organizations and preparing the premiere of the film Extra terrestres. María left us a little bit adrift and without economic resources. Filmmaking, just as the rest of the arts, stopped being a priority for funders and we and other local filmmakers found ourselves in a very tight spot.
Receiving a grant from the Flamboyan Arts Fund this year and for three consecutive years in the future has breathed hope back into our work and sent an impulse to keep going forward with our work of promoting cultural diversity and peace through film.
How are you using the funds you received?
We will conduct a community filmmaking workshop and various projections of Puerto Rican films accompanied by discussions to explore issues of violence. In the first year, these projections will be held in Loíza with the collaboration of Taller Salud. In addition, and thanks to this grant, we will be able to offer 10 fellowships for the summer workshop on filmmaking and acting: Verano de Película for the next three years. We also hope to strengthen our administrative and communications structure.
What do you think about this collaboration between the Flamboyan Foundation, Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family and the producers of Hamilton to create the Flamboyan Arts Fund to support arts and culture in Puerto Rico?
Our team is truly grateful and moved by this effort. Arts and filmmaking are vital for the strengthening of our people and to raise the self-esteem of our people after the hurricane. After a natural disaster, there are so many needs and the arts are often sidelined. This fund is an oasis of hope for artists, who faced significant losses and need to continue their calling after María. Taller Cinemático will be forever grateful for this support.
Look out next week for another opportunity to meet a Flamboyan Arts Fund inaugural grantee! Learn more about the Arts Fund @ http://www.flamboyanartsfund.org.
Neeltje van Marrissing Méndez is the Senior Director of Communications in our Puerto Rico office. Learn more about her at http://flamboyanfoundation.org/team_members/neeltje-l-van-marrissing-mendez/.