Changing the Channel on the Current Administration

August 4, 2018 4:31 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Versión en español.

The Primaries Are Here

For those of us who felt paralyzed by horror as Trump was elected two falls ago, these past two years have been a surreal journey into a chaotic government that feels like a garish reality TV show on steroids—which isn’t surprising given the person at the head of it. The characters are so outlandish and the plots so unthinkable and immediately replaced by something even more unthinkable that we have no time to digest and reflect, let alone fight back. Luckily for all of us, the very system that helped elect Trump can also help us check his power. Midterm elections are taking place this November, and we have a chance to shift the tide in Congress and to slow down the Trump administration’s ongoing destruction of civil rights and the environment. One way to get ready for those vital elections is to participate in the primaries, many of which occur in August.

It’s hard enough to get people to vote during presidential elections, but to get them to show up for primaries is a gargantuan task. According to the Pew Research Center, the 2016 presidential primary had a high turnout of 28.5% of eligible voters. However, last time we had a midterm election in 2014, the primaries were poorly attended, with Iowa having just 9.7% of eligible voters participating in the election, according to The Washington Post. Primaries help us select the candidates we’ll vote for on that key day in November, when together we finally manage to change the channel from that demented reality TV show we’ve been unwilling participants in for two years. We at Sabana Grande Productions will do our best to document and share the value of the voting process, and we hope you’ll join us by voting and inviting others to vote.

Meet Our Composer for The Weeping Season

Back in May when we had a brilliant crew of filmmakers filming my aunt Rima and my mom in Caracas for The Weeping Season, I called my aunt and she told me she’d found out that the young cinematographer, Amanda Pérez, was from El Paují. We were both astounded. Not only is El Paují a remote town in the Gran Sabana with a miniscule population, but Rima had lived there in the 1980s and it was also the place where my father vanished. It felt auspicious to have Amanda helping us tell the story. Then her dad, Rodolfo Pérez Löpez, contacted me to say that he was a composer and was interested in writing the score for the film.

Rodolfo, who lived in El Paují for 20 years and who is a friend of my father’s friends there, had heard of Dad’s story over the years and he wanted to be part of the project. He has worked as a composer, musician, and sound and recording engineer for almost five decades, creating award-winning scores, some of them for his daughter’s films. It only took listening to the score he’d created for Amanda’s short documentary De qué lado cae mi sombra, which they filmed together in El Paují, for me to know that I had found my composer. Or rather that my composer had found me. I know he’ll write the haunting, poignant score that the film needs because he understands part of my father’s story in ways that few people can. Welcome, Rodolfo. We are so fortunate to have you.

Unearthed Photo of the Month

For one month out of the year, my mom comes to visit from Venezuela. We all look forward to this transcendent time together when she can escape the Skype screen and be part of our lives. As I was trying to find a photo to commemorate her visit, I remembered one of the most confounding pictures from my childhood, found in my parents’ wedding album tucked in some forgotten drawer. I would find the album periodically and spend hours lost in the faces and elegance of the past. Then I would get to this photo with a woman’s face carefully cut out and stop, mesmerized by the enigma of the missing face around which the whole image, once meant to focus on the bride and groom, now revolved.

As I’ve done for decades, I asked my mom again today to tell me the story of the faceless woman. My maternal grandmother, Antonia, who planned the wedding, and no doubt hired the photographer, came to visit her recently married daughter and looked at the album with her. She then said she wanted to take it home to share it with her friends. She returned it promptly, and my mom put it away. Months later she looked at the album and realized that her mother’s face was missing. When she asked her about it, Antonia said that she cut it out because she didn’t like her expression in the photo, which was logical enough, so my mother shrugged it off. Today, Mom is amused by the fact that she decided to leave the photo in the album instead of taking it out. For me, the photo encapsulates how strange and labyrinthine mother/daughter love can and should be. It makes me wish I’d gotten to know my grandmother as an adult so I could appreciate the woman who cut out her own face because she didn’t like the way she’d been photographed.

Digital Works That Matter

Kelly Wheeler wrote “Revisiting Familiar Places and Exploring New Spaces: Alexandra Hidalgo and Digital Works that Matter”, a fantastic piece for the Computers and Composition Digital Press Blog about my video book Cámara Retórica, the role of memory and collaboration on The Weeping Season, and why I decided to create this community letter. It was a real pleasure to work with Kelly on this piece.

Feminist Collaboration

Tarez Graban mentioned The Weeping Season on her Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition blog post titled “Stone Walls and Summer Projects.” She talked about the film in relation to the need for collaboration and patience in feminist projects. We are thankful to Tarez for featuring our film.


We usually ask that you tie #FilmsForAKinderWorld to films that make the world better, but during this month and in November as those of us in the US get ready to vote, we hope that you’ll use the hashtag in combination with films that showcase the value of democracy or simply by asking people to #Vote in whichever way you see fit. Sí se puede!

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Versión en español.
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This post was written by Alexandra Hidalgo

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