As part of Vicky Funari’s Advanced Documentary Film Production course, Waleed Shahid ‘13, Mary Clare O’Donnell ‘12, and I (Alexandra Colon ‘13) have been collaborating on the development of a short documentary film entitled Desenterrando Muertos. This semester-long video project emerged out of my curiosity to find out more information about my missing grandfather and it has slowly brought me to unearth a painful family past. Desenterrando Muertos will document this search for facts and memories about my missing grandfather and my mother’s childhood, bringing to light a silenced past and reflecting on the exercise of remembrance and the frailty of memory.
I started filming over winter break when I was back home in Puerto Rico, collecting family testimonies. However, I found it impossible to pay attention to sound, interviewing etiquette, and cinematography while filming. Waleed, Mary Clare, and I received funded through HCAH’s Student Arts Fund to film in Puerto Rico over spring break. With the three of us, we could get a wider array of footage and bring complexity to the interview segments, while also managing sound and shooting. Mary Clare unfortunately could not be here with us in Puerto Rico, but we miss her!
While in Puerto Rico, Waleed and I set out to collect more stories from my family members about my grandfather and the impact of his absence on my mother and the rest of my family. We also spent some time filming in the Condado Lagoon in San Juan. Visuals of the lagoon will be repeated throughout the film narrative, stressing the fact that like memory, my mother’s past is filled with gaps, or lagunas, a term that in Spanish refers both to lagoon and lacuna (a missing section of a text). We also filmed a scene of my mother and I reflecting on the film process inside a boat in the lagoon. Finally we filmed my great-grandmother’s birthday celebration, in which many of the film characters were seen together.
Meanwhile, Waleed has been eating plantains and
wants to share this piece of PR convent visual culture with you:
See more pictures below: