ROBERTO GUERRA DOCUMENTARY FUND

By Kathy Brew

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Kathy Brew, Roberto Guerra’s long-time collaborator and wife is establishing the Roberto Guerra Documentary Fund to honor Roberto Guerra’s life and legacy in the field. Originally from Peru, Guerra came to New York as a young, aspiring filmmaker to meet the cinema verité pioneers. He was inspired to create a number of films while living in New York and Europe. He continued to shoot and produce through the last year of his life.

The Roberto Guerra Documentary Award will be an annual prize given to a documentary filmmaker from Latin America or US-Latino based in New York. Kathy and UnionDocs as a fiscal sponsor have come together to honor the memory of Roberto by supporting and encouraging an emerging filmmaker in the creation of his or her documentary work. In the spirit of Roberto Guerra’s intuitive and sensitive eye, the Award aims to recognize a Latin American or US-Latino artist who is developing his or her own vision through innovative documentary art and at the same time responds to the issues of our times.

Experts in the field of documentary art will choose the recipient from a pool of nominees. The award will be presented each year in the spring. UnionDocs will serve as the non-profit administrator of the fund and will conduct the selection process and panel review. All donations are tax-deductible via UnionDocs.

At this time we are looking to friends and family to set up the fund for this award. Your donations are very important in initiating this fund to support Latino and Latin American talent in New York and the development within the documentary field.

Roberto&Kathy by Ana de Orbegoso

Photo by Ana de Orbegoso


ABOUT ROBERTO GUERRA

Roberto Guerra, an international documentary filmmaker, died on Friday, January 10th after a six-month valiant fight against pancreatic cancer at Haven Hospice at Bellevue Hospital in NYC with his wife, Kathy Brew, by his side, who was with him throughout the entire ordeal.

Guerra was born in Lima, Peru on May 22nd, 1942 and graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, Lima, with a degree in engineering. Subsequently he turned his attention to film, initially producing and directing in Peru.

In the late 60s, on his first trip to NYC to purchase film equipment, Guerra met Albert Maysles and through him and his brother, David, he met the other cinema verité pioneers — Ricky Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker, and Robert Drew. He initially worked with the Maysles, filming on some of their projects. Soon thereafter, he met Eila Hershon, who became his collaborator and life partner for the next 25 years. They made many films, including portraits of artists and international personalities in the worlds of fashion and design. Guerra and Hershon married in 1991; Eila Hershon died of cancer in 1993.

Guerra did his own camerawork and editing for all his films. His intuitive, sensitive eye and unique style and spontaneous grace imbues each film with a sense of involvement and intimacy with the subjects. 

Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra met in 1996 and soon began to work together on arts and social issue documentaries  with a particular focus on representing the vision and contributions of creative people to larger audiences. Together they were interested in the interface between art and reality, and in how artists respond to issues of our times.  Their most recent film, DESIGN IS ONE: LELLA & MASSIMO VIGNELLI began its US theatrical release at the IFC Film Center in New York City in October 2013 with a favorable NY Times review and is in distribution worldwide. For a preview trailer and more information on the film visit: www.designisonefilm.com

There are still several films in different phases of completion that Brew will complete since Guerra passed away in January 2014.

The project being completed this coming year is DOUBLE TAKE: THE ART OF SEWARD JOHNSON– a portrait of the artist as a humanist and humorist, whose work has incredible popular response in spite of much critique and dismissal from the “art world.” The film explores philosophical issues around notions of elitism and populism, and questions who and what determines what is considered art.

You can view trailers to these two other works-in-progress emanating from Peru at the links below:

BEAUTY BEHIND BARS

A women’s prison in Peru holds a beauty pageant where inmates, mostly foreigners arrested for attempted drug smuggling, compete for the title Miss Primavera. We hear the personal stories of the contestants: their mistakes, their dreams, their survival, their preparation for Miss Primavera. Why the women are there is the backdrop of the story — as collateral damage in the international war on drugs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5r4-EEyP2s

EL OJO QUE LLORA

Artists Lika Mutal and Gam Klutier — both born in Holland — have lived in Peru for so long that they could be considered “Peruvian. ” This documentary will weave many strands — immigrants from Holland to Peru finding inspiration in nature and ancient cultures, but also with the people and their recent history, including the years of terrorism., expressing these influences in their art.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt1MJVoKqco

In addition to completing the films, Brew will also be working to release a film that Guerra made with Eila Hershon back in 1970:
R filming Langlois
LANGLOIS
(Roberto Guerra, Elia Herson, 1970, US, DCP, 52 min)

This 52-minute documentary, made in 1970, offers a whimsical, anecdotal portrait, interspersing interviews with Mr. Langlois’ associates and admirers (Lilian Gish, Simone Signoret, Catherine Deneuve, Kenneth Anger, and Viva, among others) with footage of him as he walks around Paris, holding forth on anything from a house in which Jean Renoir once lived to the black and white swans he spies in a park–Langlois found cinematic overtones in virtually everything.–Excerpted from the The New York Times.

Guerra and Brew married after 17 years together on August 14, 2013. His spirit and equanimity in the face of his sudden cancer diagnosis was inspirational. His joy for life and people and his creativity will live on through all the work he created and in all the lives he touched.

Learn more about Roberta Guerra from:

The New York Times

Documentary Magazine

Remezcla

Art Forum 

Art in America

Graphis

NALIP

La Republica

Frequencia Latina

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