Watch: Álvaro, from UnionDocs Living Los Sures Project
Inspired by Diego Echeverria’s 1984 documentary, Los Sures, Living Los Sures is an expansive documentary produced over five years by 60 artists at Brooklyn’s UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art. Premiering online today here at Filmmaker is Álvaro, directed by Alexandra Lazarowich, Elizabeth Dealaune Warren, Daniel J Wilson & Chloe Zimmerman, a short doc about the daily ritual of longtime Southside, Brooklyn resident Álvaro Brandon.
Timed to the restoration and Metrograph screening of Echeverria’s cinema verite work, about the largely Puerto Rican and Dominican community of the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Living Los Sures consists of 40 short films, the interactive documentary 89 Steps, and the “cinematic people’s history” Shot by Shot. Writes Union Docs of the latter component, it demonstrates “new possibilities for collaboration between an arts institution and its surrounding community to collect memories and share local culture.”
Whereas, in the ’80s, the Southside was once dubbed “the worst ghetto in America,” now it is a site of gentrification pitting local residents and identity against luxury condos. Below are notes provided by UnionDocs about the first of three films Filmmaker will be premiering online here over the next two weeks. Thanks to UnionDocs for providing
Álvaro is short film inspired by Diego Echeverría’s documentary about the Southside of Williamsburg in 1984, Los Sures. It follows 75-year-old Southside resident Álvaro Brandon over many seasons as he traces a daily path between the vacant lots of his community to feed 40 stray cats. In this simple routine, Álvaro finds depth and meaning. It is one way to deal with the pain and overwhelming practicalities that result as his wife slowly succumbs to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Álvaro has lived in Los Sures since he moved from Puerto Rico five decades ago. The four co-directors developed the piece in 2014 as fellows in the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio and spent a lot of time the streets capturing not only Álvaro’s personal story, but also his experience of a place in the midst of historic, rapid change. Co-director, Chloe Zimmerman said, “We began to accompany Alvaro on his path and spent the greater part of a year walking together. We learned about his neighborhood and his life through the stories that came to him, often inspired by chance, on a given walk.” While the empty spaces in the neighborhood may soon be built up for new luxury buildings, in the meantime they are home to a loveable collection of cats and the memories of the man who is there caretaker.
The film is part of UnionDocs sprawling Living Los Sures project. You can see the film from 1984 that inspired their work, Los Sures, at Metrograph starting April 15.
Featuring Álvaro Brandon
Directed by Alexandra Lazarowich, Elizabeth Dealaune Warren, Daniel J Wilson & Chloe Zimmerman.
Producers: Alexandra Lazarowich, Elizabeth Delaune Warren, UnionDocs
Cinematography: Daniel J Wilson
Additional cinematography: Elizabeth Delaune Warren, Chloe Zimmerman.
Editors: Daniel J Wilson, Elizabeth Delaune Warren.
UnionDocs Artistic Director: Christopher Allen
UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Director: Toby Lee
Sound design: Chloe Zimmerman
Translation: Alejandra Sacio, Chloe Zimmerman
Project mentor: Sam Green
Collaborative program instructor: Chi-Hui Yang
Special thanks: The Brandon Family, Danya Abt, Kevin Allen, Caitlin Boyle, Sarah J. Christman, Anne-Katrine Hansen, Steve Holmgren, Nathan Kensinger, Janna Kyllästinen, Emir Lewis, Pejk Manlinovski, Yael Melamede, Lucilla Moctezuma, Alejandra Sacio, Hilke Schellmann, Hemal Trivedi
2013-2014 Collaborative Fellows: Alexandra Lazarowich, Anne-Katrine Hansen, Arisleyda Dilone, Chloe Zimmerman, Daniel Wilson, Danya Abt, Elizabeth Warren, Janna Kyllästinen, John Larson, Joyce Wong, Samantha Richardson, Stanzi Vaubel
Festivals: World Premiere: Northside Film, 2015