Tag Archives: Documentary film

Film Review: Woven Lives—Contemporary Textiles from Ancient Oaxacan Traditions

This documentary film is a visual feast for the senses that takes us on a sensory journey across Oaxaca, Mexico.  Here we meet the exemplars – the outstanding artists, artisans, and curators who are keeping the weaving traditions alive.  This film captures sense of place, history, culture, and diversity.  It creates a vital thread from past to future, linking the emotional and aesthetic work that goes into the creative process with the economic implications of survival for the art and the culture.

Featured are extraordinary weavers who work on the two-harness floor loom, the back-strap loom, and use fly shuttle weaving.  We learn about the process of cultivating, spinning and weaving silk.  We understand the environmental and sustainable responsibility for using natural dyes, and the importance of finding world markets to sell so that the culture endures.

The film features several of my favorite weavers:  Federico Chavez Sosa, Erasto “Tito” Mendoza Ruiz, and Abigail Mendoza.  It also includes commentary by my friends Eric Chavez Santiago, education director at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and Janet Chavez Santiago, a linguist and weaver. (Federico’s rugs are available for sale on this web site in the Gallery-Shop Here)

There is so much that this 1:16:19 DVD film by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Carolyn Kallenborn covers in such a relatively short period. And you can choose to watch in English or in Spanish.

We hear the Zapotec language spoken and how its revival is a way to sustain cultural traditions. We appreciate weaving as a community endeavor to support generational continuity.  We learn how designs are created on the tapestry loom extrapolated from archeological stone carving.  We see how the cochineal bug is cultivated on the prickly pear cactus and the chemical oxidation of indigo.  To ground us, life in Oaxaca is interwoven throughout.

We discover how American students can intern with Oaxaca weavers for cultural exchange.  We realize that it takes 20 days to hand spin enough silk to make one shawl and five days to weave it.  We come to value the time and energy it takes to work by hand — to wash, card, spin, dye and weave a quality textile.

Carolyn Kallenborn’s in-depth film is ambitious, comprehensive, and compelling.  It is a must-see for every lover of woven art, every student and teacher who is involved in the creative process, and all who want to know more about Oaxaca and its extraordinary textile traditions.

To order your own personal copy, go to www.wovenlivesoaxaca.com or www.vidaentretejidas.com

Federico Chavez Sosa’s handwoven rugs made with naturally dyed wool are available for sale on this web site. Click on Gallery Shop Here under the photo banner.

Review by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC,  www.oaxacaculture.com




Dolores Porras Documentary Film by Michael Peed Premieres in Oaxaca

Legendary folk art potter Dolores Porras

Dolores Porras, legendary potter from Santa Maria Atzompa, died in November 2010 as a result of Parkinson’s disease.  For years, potter and university faculty member Michael Peed visited Porras, videotaped and photographed her work. He has assembled a 31-minute documentary film that will premier on Saturday, February 19, 2011, at La Jicara Restaurant in Oaxaca.  You can contact him at imdeep@earthlink.net to find out how you can get a copy of the movie.

Woven Lives/Vidas Entretejidas Movie Trailer — Public Premiere Coming April 23, 2011

Spools of naturally-dyed wool wait for the loom

Carolyn Kallenborn wrote to me today about the progress she is making to distribute the final cut of her film about Oaxaca weavers, “Woven Lives/Vidas Entretejidos.”  I want to share her update with you and provide the link to the movie trailer on YouTube.  The film features six weavers, one of whom is our dear friend Federico Chavez Sosa (Galeria Fe y Lola, Av. 5 de Mayo #408, Centro Historico, Oaxaca).

“So.. it is all getting very very close – the graphics for the DVD jacket went out for printing today, final proofreading of the subtitles have to happen before I go to bed tonight, the final video files are in Indiana being prepped for duplication… in two weeks I should have 2000 copies of the 1 hour and 16 minute movie – with both Spanish and English soundtrack and amazingly beautiful visuals and music to accompany it.

I hope you can take two minutes to watch the movie trailer on  You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxFtx0eSPqI
Its best if it is viewed on a full screen.  Feel free to pass it along to others.

Many thanks to the whole crew who worked on this project. It is amazing to see it coming to life!!  I hope you enjoy it!”

Carolyn Kallenborn

Upcoming Events:

Cast and Crew Sneak Preview
Sunday March 6th

In Spanish with English subtitles, Cardinal Bar, 6:30 p.m., Madison, Wisconsin, food and dance to follow

Public Premier
Saturday April 23rd

In English with Spanish subtitles, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Union South, 6:30 p.m., dance and cash bar to follow

Woven Lives Movie — Vidas Entretejidas — The Best of Oaxaca Weavers and Their Textiles

University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty member and textile artist Carolyn Kallenborn is in the final stages of completing the subtitles of the documentary film she has produced called “Woven Lives.”  It features six extraordinary weavers from the state of Oaxaca who exemplify the best of contemporary weaving that has evolved over centuries.  Their work is rooted in an ancient tradition that provided clothing for an indigenous people.  Today, these are works of art.

The movie features the work of Federico Chavez Sosa and Erasto “Tito” Mendoza Ruiz, great weavers who I am proud to call friends.

The movie features the work of Federico Chavez Sosa

Kallenborn’s film is described here:

“Drawing upon the richness of sights, sounds and beauty of the people and landscape of Oaxaca, Mexico, Woven Lives provides a fascinating look at contemporary Zapotec weavers from six different villages. This colorful documentary celebrates their extraordinary textiles and illustrates how the art of weaving cloth has helped the Zapotecs retain their culture and identity for thousands of years. The story traces the integration of ancient techniques with new technologies and explores how the artisans are now looking to the past to help them move forward into the future.”

Woven Lives Movie — Like It and learn about it on Facebook.

See more about the movie on the website:  www.wovenlivesoaxaca.com

Find Federico Chavez Sosa @ Av. Francisco I. Madero #55, Teotitlan del Valle or in Oaxaca at Av. Cinco de Mayo #408. Tel: (951) 524-4078.

Find Tito Mendoza Ruiz @ El Nahual Gallery, Av. Cinco de Mayo, Oaxaca.

Film Making Workshop: Visual Storytelling — February 19-26, 2010

Consider Oaxaca Digital Photography Expedition: Market Towns and Artisan Villages, June 29-July 5, 2011.  It’s not likely we will have a film making workshop in 2011.

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For seven days, from Friday evening, February 19, to Friday, morning, February 26, you will immerse yourself in the art and craft of documentary film making in the indigenous Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. There are 7,000 people and 2,000 looms in this famous rug weaving center situated 15 miles outside the colonial capital of Oaxaca City. This learning laboratory opens your eyes to new perspectives. A core aspect of this workshop is to encourage you to take the skills and insights you gain through this cross-cultural experience back home to document your own community, culture, or advocacy project with fresh vision.

Creating a documentary is much more than learning how to point, shoot and edit. Capturing the unique voices of your subjects is at the heart of the work. Topics may include the intimate rituals of daily life — making tortillas from scratch, preparing natural dyes, the voices of women, celebrations and life cycle events.

Newsflash: Artist Panteleon Ruiz, a renowned Zapotec painter who incorporates natural dyes in his oil pigments, will be one of the subjects for the film workshop!

You will work in small groups, guided by expert faculty who give you the creative freedom to produce a 3-5 minute short subject film. A celebratory final night viewing will showcase everyone’s work.

Here’s the REGISTRATION FORM: Go to the BLOGROLL for the link

Here are the three films produced at the last workshop:

Weaving a Curve (English subtitles)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxgxcMQlQZM

Dance of the Feather: A Promise & Commitment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpr4dBi-6h4

Woven Together: Entretejidos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwxuUb6fPL4

You will:

  • Explore the creativity, challenges and ethics of telling a compelling story
  • Learn the steps of documentary film production from start to finish
  • Develop the technical skills for video and audio recording
  • Edit the raw footage into a rich narrative using Final Cut Pro
This is an excellent opportunity for those who want to get a first hand experience in documentary field work — all in a great travel destination.
Being able to tell a visual story via video is a powerful and valuable
skill for staff and volunteers working to raise funds, communicate an
issue, and increase visibility.  The stories we learn to capture on film
in Mexico from an arts and ethnographic perspective can be translated to
the interests we have and issues we face in our own communities at home
or other global sites.It is also a great way to develop a professional skill.  Professional development expenses can be tax deductible (travel and workshop tuition).
Ask your tax preparer/account.

After you register, faculty will contact you to discuss your interests and skill level. Then, we’ll send you a complete packet of materials, including a list of what to bring, like your own camera and tapes.  Pre-workshop readings will address: What style of documentary do I want to make? What issues do I need to be sensitive to when entering an unfamiliar culture? What about using my video camera, microphone and lighting? How do we maximize the collaborative process with teammates and crew? What are film production stages? Can I really learn to edit? How do I conduct an effective interview?


What Participants Say…

Erica encouraged me to challenge myself and go beyond what was easy and “routine” for me.  I am really happy with the final piece.  The experience was challenging and VERY rewarding.  A wonderful experience, a beautiful place. –Sarah Kennedy Davis, Kentucky, USA

The experience helped me understand the importance of teamwork. I loved the way Erica explained things. –Eric Chavez Santiago, Oaxaca, Mexico

The instructors were delightful and able to explain to the novice very sophisticated concepts in an understandable way.  I really appreciated Erica’s wise and warm approach to the subject.  The location is picturesque and the family very friendly; the food was wonderful.  Thank you. –Betty Hutchins, Toronto, Canada

Thank you for everything. I learned a lot–interviewing skills and how to use Final Cut Pro.  The multicultural residency enhanced my filmmaking goals because it expanded my experience beyond a controlled environment.  I loved it. –Scott Switzer, Oregon, USA

Thanks for inspiring teaching.  I have an appreciation for what it takes to make a film.  ths is a unique combination of a documentary course in a multicultural setting. — Eunice Hogeveen, Toronto, Canada

When you arrive in Teotitlan, you’ll meet the faculty and we’ll give you your documentary topic. We will pre-arrange your field contacts and provide bilingual translators to accompany you on interviews. You will then work with your partner and faculty to develop the technical and creative approach that best fits your personal and professional goals for the week.

What Is Included?

· Over 75 hours of expert instruction

· “On location” in a fascinating place

· A comprehensive notebook of materials

· Lodging for 7 nights

· 7 breakfasts, plus 5 lunches and dinners

· Bilingual interview translation services

· A DVD of all the films produced during the workshop

· The experience of a lifetime!

Accommodations are in a lovely village guesthouse with bougainville and pomegranate trees. The setting is traditional, yet comfortable.  The Zapotec proprietors are a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law team — gracious hosts and excellent cooks. As guests in their family compound, you will taste delicious traditional foods that Oaxaca is famous for and live with the family during your stay.  An intimate and rewarding experience!

Your Faculty Experts:  Erica Rothman and Jim Haverkamp

Erica Rothman, LCSW, is a documentary filmmaker who uses her psychotherapy background to understand and capture her subjects with sensitivity and depth, in an intimate and compelling way. As the principal of Nightlight Productions, she has written, produced and directed acclaimed projects, including full-length documentary films, that focus on local and global health care, public policy, the arts and humanities. She received a 2007 Gracie Award for American Women in Radio and Television, and key awards at the Houston International Film Festival. Rothman teaches in the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies.

“I love the collaboration between the people working on the film, the subjects and the content.  I’m excited about this 2010 workshop because Jim and I have worked together for over five years.  Documentary filmmaking is a powerful way to use storytelling to bring people to action.” – Erica Rothman

Jim Haverkamp is a filmmaker and freelance editor based in Durham, North Carolina.  His short fiction and documentary films have shown at over 50 festivals around the world, including Chicago Underground, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Maryland Film Festival. He has taught filmmaking at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and was awarded a filmmaking fellowship by the North Carolina Arts Council in 2000.  He teaches at the intensive documentary institute at Duke Center for Documentary Studies for six year. He hold the B.A. American Studies, University of Iowa.

Cost and Registration: $1795 per person, double occupancy, including food and lodging outlined above. A $500 deposit will hold your reservation. Workshop limited to 6 people.

Contact: Norma Hawthorne, (919) 274-6194 or normahawthorne@mac.com to register.

Presented by: Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, www.oaxacaculture.com and http://oaxacaculture.com

How to Register  Workshop cost is $1795 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement is available at $300 per person.  Please print out and complete the registration form and mail it with your deposit. Registration form:  www.oaxacaculture.com

Deposit: A $500 deposit will reserve your space in the filmmaking workshop.

Final payment is due 30 days before the start day of the workshop. If the balance is not paid by this time, then we reserve the right to treat the reservation as cancelled. Any registrations made 30 days or less before the start of the workshop must be paid in full at that time. If cancellation is necessary, cancellation notice must by made in writing by email.  Deposits are refundable, as follows:

Deposits may be refunded:

*Up to 30 days before the workshop start date, less a $100 cancellation fee.

*After that, deposits are not refundable.

If cancellation is necessary, you may apply the deposit to a future workshop. We reserve the right to cancel or reschedule workshops, in which case you may choose a 100% refund or apply the tuition to a future workshop.

Personal checks are accepted. We also accept payment with PayPal. Contact us for details: normahawthorne@mac.com

Documentation: U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico are required to carry a current passport, valid for at least 3 months after your re-entry to the U.S. It is your responsibility to carry proper documentation. If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact the Mexican embassy, consulate or a national airline of Mexico for entry requirements.

Trip insurance: PLEASE consider purchasing travel insurance. Unforeseen circumstances of getting to Teotitlan del Valle could cost you more than you expected. In the event of an emergency or natural disaster caused beyond our control, trip insurance will cover any unexpected expenses.

What is NOT included

Transportation to Mexico, Oaxaca and Teotitlan; gratuities and fees; local bus and taxi fees, trip insurance, medical expenses, hospitalization, any other fees; evening dinner in Oaxaca, liquor; optional side trips and excursions; extensions to your stay.

Schedule  Upon registration, we will send you an outline of the week’s activities.

Friday: Arrive in Oaxaca and take a taxi to your B&B in Teotitlan del Valle. We’ll provide you with directions and how to get from the airport to the village. We will meet together in the courtyard at 8:00 p.m. for a welcome reception. Saturday: Meet for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Workshop starts at 9:00 a.m. and continues through the day into the evening.  Sunday-Friday: Each day is planned with different activities to enhance the learning process. The workshop day typically begins at 9 a.m. after breakfast and continues, with meal and snack breaks, through the evening. We will take one late afternoon and evening “off” to go into Oaxaca City for comida together and to explore the sights. Saturday morning: Breakfast, summary and evaluation. The workshop ends by 10:00 a.m.

Send your registration deposit with your name, address, telephone, cell phone and email address, and a brief statement about why you want to attend this workshop and your experience, to:

Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, 110 Blue Heron Farm Rd., Pittsboro, NC 27312


normahawthorne@mac.com or (919) 274-6194

We also offer weaving and natural dyeing workshops in Teotitlan del Valle!