Friday, September 17, 2010

Michael Torres with a brief overview on Albizu: The Documentary

The following is a brief overview by producer and director Michael Torres on his film project Albizu: The Documentary...

The project started in the summer of 2007 when I took my first trip to Puerto Rico armed with a mini dv camera and a microphone, there I met Alfredo Robles who I hired as a camera man and has since become a great friend and valuable contributor to the production.

My intention was to shoot as many interviews as possible and assemble them into a sample reel. We were able to interview: Nationalist; Rafael Cancel Miranda, Antonio Cruz Colon, Tato Torres and Juan Mari Bras, UPR Professors Amilcar Tirado and Juan Manuel Carrion, Luis Angel Ferrao and Albizus granddaughter and Nationalist Party president Rosa Albizu Meneses.

Those interview became the trailer for the project – Since posting the trailer, we’ve made a lot of exciting progress, the project has received development grants from Latino Public Broadcasting and ITVS; these grants have allowed us to do extensive research in Puerto Rico, New York and Harvard this past year. In the research phase I’ve uncovered an abundance of original, never before seen photos and footage, and never before published audio recordings and speeches.

On my most recent trip to Puerto Rico I had the honor of finally meeting 2 of Albizus surviving children, Dona Laura Albizu Meneses and Pedro Albizu Meneses and Albizu’s Granddaughter Cristina Meneses. In addition to the family I met Carlos Padilla, a former nationalist who shared a cell with Don Pedro in the 1950’s, and 103-year-old Isabel Rosado who was one of Albizu’s closest comrades and the subject of Melissa Montero’s: Our Women Our Struggle.

In August 2009 I had the honor of being part of NALIP’s Latino Producers Academy 2009 – Basically they select 10 projects at different stages of production, and invite the producers to spend 10 days in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the 10 days, professional documentary filmmakers and mentors from PBS, HBO, Sundance, ITVS, Latino Public Broadcasting, and CPB workshop your projects and help you improve them.

Being a first time documentary filmmaker the hardest thing to figure out sometimes is knowing what you don’t know. The academy and its mentors created a safe place for filmmakers to ask questions and explore their projects with fresh perspectives. I arrived at the academy still unsure what direction to take my project in and suffering from severe writers block, after a series of one on one and group sessions with mentors I had a creative breakthrough and am well on my way to a successful production – I can honestly say it was the best 10 days of my professional life.

Since the workshop, I’ve completed a new treatment, and I’m working on the final script and preparing applications for the next round of production grants in January.

Michael Torres

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An excerpt from an interview with Dr. Anthony Stevens Arroyo....

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