The Weeping Season

Still from The Weeping SeasonA Documentary About Family, Loss, and Venezuela

This in-production feature documentary directed by Alexandra Hidalgo blends together personal history with the loss of one’s homeland through political and economic decimation. Shot over 14 years in Venezuela, the US, Spain, and Portugal, the film creates an international portrait of a family surviving tragedy and learning to find happiness and wisdom during troubled times.

Synopsis

In 1983, Miguel Hidalgo, a Venezuelan inventor, writer, and economist who grew up in the US, disappeared in the Venezuelan Amazon, leaving behind his six-year-old daughter, Alexandra. In 2004, filmmaker Alexandra traveled to the remote town of his vanishing, camcorder-in-hand. After a tense week of interviews, she pieced together the events of his disappearance. While solving the mystery, she realized that she knew little of the man whose absence she mourned. Her new quest becomes one of understanding the lives of her father and his family. As she unravels the past, she travels through the US, Venezuela, Spain, and Portugal, conducting intimate interviews and visiting the places where her family lived and studied. She realizes that her father’s life was as extraordinary as his disappearance.

At its core, The Weeping Season is a story about loss and how to transform the pain it elicits into hope. The film interweaves Miguel’s loss with the loss of one’s homeland through the plight of refugees fleeing a nationalist, repressive regime. As the film shows, governmental corruption has led to Venezuela’s undoing at the hand of a brutal dictator. Thousands of Venezuelans escape their homeland each year, and they, like Miguel and his family did, weave themselves into the cultural fabric of their new countries. Exploring the ties between the loss of a parent and the loss of our homeland, The Weeping Season shows how we can emerge as more resilient beings through surviving loss.

Project Status

We have completed 75% of principal photography and are currently editing. We plan to have a complete draft of the 90-minute English version by July 2018. So far we have been awarded three grants toward the project—the MSU College of Arts and Letters Faculty Summer Fellowship, MSU Humanities and Arts Research Program Development Grant, and the Diversity Research Network Launch Award. This funding has allowed us to film in Caracas, New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Tampa, Madrid, and Lisbon over the last two years. We have also begun the editing process and continue to film new scenes as needed.

Crew

Alexandra HidalgoAlexandra Hidalgo
Director, Producer, Editor, Writer

Alexandra Hidalgo is an award-winning filmmaker, whose documentaries have been official selections at film festivals in 12 countries and been screened at universities around the United States. Her short documentary Teta, about nursing her son as a working mother, has been selected for 16 film festivals in its first ten months on the circuit, including Athens International Film and Video and Boston Latino. Alexandra is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of agnès films, a digital publication that supports the work of women and feminist filmmakers. Through agnès films she has spearheaded various activist campaigns toward increasing the number of women behind the camera. Her campaigns have been featured on The Hollywood Reporter, IndieWire, NPR, and Women and Hollywood. Having received her PhD from Purdue University in Rhetoric and Composition with a concentration in film and video production, Alexandra is now an assistant professor at Michigan State University, where she teaches courses on video production and documentary film history and theory, among others. Her video book, Cámara Retórica: A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology for Rhetoric and Composition, was published by Computers and Composition Digital Press this year. Her academic video essays have been published in premiere peer-reviewed digital journals like Enculturation, Kairos, Technoculture, Itineration, Present Tense, and Peitho.

Nathaniel BowlerNathaniel Bowler
Director of Photography

Nathaniel Bowler has been making films in collaboration with his wife and creative partner Alexandra Hidalgo since 2004. His director of photography work includes Teta and William and Santiago Simultaneous, two documentaries that have been screened at film festivals and academic conferences around the world. He worked as a videographer for the music video for Joseph Arthur’s “The Campaign Song,” a collaboration between Arthur and artist Spencer Tunick. The video was featured on Paste Magazine, New Noise Magazine, and Cleve Scene. His cinematography work on his wife’s video essays has been featured on multiple digital academic journals, such as Kairos, Enculturation, and Peitho. He works as a writer, photographer, and social media specialist for a variety of companies located in Venezuela, the US, England, and Spain.

Ana Lucía SalamancaAna Lucía Salamanca
Caracas Unit Director of Photography

Ana Lucía Salamanca is a Venezuelan/Spanish filmmaker, cinematographer, screenwriter, photographer, and actor. Her 2017 feature documentary (That) I Bring You My Heart, which she directed, filmed, and wrote in various towns in Venezuela, follows the lives of women from different social classes as they perform their daily tasks. She has also worked as assistant director for various documentaries, including Jazmines en Lídice and Dogma. She has a BA in Filmmaking from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. She recently moved to Spain and was awarded a fellowship to complete her MA in Executive Audiovisual Production at the Universidade da Corruña. Her current film work revolves around issues that Venezuelans face as they emigrate from their motherland to escape political violence.

Peter JohnstonPeter Johnston
Animator, Assistant Editor

Peter Johnston is an award-winning filmmaker, multi-media designer, and educator, whose recent short documentary premiered at the Free Press Film Festival at the Detroit Film Theatre. As an editor, his work on fiction and documentary short and feature films has screened at film festivals across the country and internationally, as well as on PBS stations nationwide. His experimental public-access series The Limited Appeal ran on local cable. He has designed award-winning multimedia projections for live theatrical performances. He teaches filmmaking at Michigan State University.

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