On April 9 the Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC) showcased the work of two Puerto Rican filmmakers, Richard Santiago and Jorge “Fish” Rodriguez.
Richard Santiago presented a brief excerpt of a documentary he is making with Rodríguez on Puerto Rico boxers. Before the film was shown, Santiago spoke about the commitment that young Puerto Rican boxers make to their training, “These boxers are like Tibeten monks,” said Santiago. “No drinking, no sex, etc. to prepare for fighting.”
Jorge “Fish” Rodríguez shared a myriad of projects he’s worked on past and present. He showed the music video he directed for Calle 13 for the song AtreveteTe-Te, which won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video in 2006. Rodríguez worked intently to create a music video that challenged the types of images seen in mainstream hip-hop videos. The video’s protagonists do not wear massive gold chains and pop bottles of champagne. The video also calls into question the Americanization of Puerto Rican life by including images of Puerto Rican women wearing blond wigs walking in front of rows of houses painted the same color, reminiscent of Levittown.
Rodríguez did not formally study filmmaking; instead he studied sculpture and specialized in image and design in college. He relied on on-line tutorials to learn film techniques. Rodríguez became involved in film after a trip he made to Argentina. He was at a bar in a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires discussing politics and Latin American history with locals. Through that conversation he became aware of South America’s “Dirty War” during which thousands of students, intellectuals, and professionals were targeted by the Argentine government. It was then that he vowed to return to Argentina within a year to create a documentary on the Plaza de Mayo massacre.
During that trip to Argentina, Rodriguez’s consciousness about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the United States was fomented. That consciousness- raising experience was artistically transformative. When referring to his art before his trip, Rodriguez’s said, “everything was superficial.”
Jorge “Fish” Rodríguez has also directed the music video for Pasarela by Puerto Rican rapper/singer Dalmata. Rodríguez plans to create a full-length feature film in the future and continues to create films in order “to provoke, to show reality, to talk about what’s happening.”
by Eric López