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With the increasing popularity of hybridity, magical realism, and drama therapy in documentary films, it's time to reexamine the age-old techniques of re-enactment, re-creations, and staged scenes. For example, the "first" documentary, Nanook of the North, was full of constructed scenarios that played into stereotypes and were exaggerated for emotional effect. The pitfalls seem manifold: it takes time, money, and intense care about the mental and psychological wellbeing of participants involved in often-intense revisitings. But recreations and fictional aspects can also allow filmmakers to repair memories, images, and histories that were deliberately erased—and in places of political censorship, can give filmmakers more artistic freedom.

In this panel, we will hear from accomplished filmmakers who have recently used staging techniques in their work with a range of approaches and intents, from playful to soulful and genre-defiant, all with the goal of bringing audiences into worlds that entertain, provoke reflection and nurture crucial responses to key questions of truth, empowerment, and justice.

Moderator: Ela Bittencourt (film critic)

Panelists: Cecilia Aldarondo (You Were My First Boyfriend), Theo Montoya (Anhell69), and Alison O'Daniel (The Tuba Thieves)

Biographies (submitted by the speakers):

Ela Bittencourt is a writer and critic who currently works primarily in Europe and the United States, after having spent nine years in Brazil. She writes on art and the moving image for publications such as Artforum, Criterion, Frieze Magazine, Film Comment, Hyperallergic, The Nation, and the New York Review of Books. She also consults for International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). In the past, she curated film programs focused on Polish and Latin American cinema in New York, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro.

Cecilia Aldarondo is a director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora who works at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her feature documentaries MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART (2016) and LANDFALL (2020) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and were co-produced by the award-winning PBS series POV. Her third feature YOU WERE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND had its World Premiere at the 2023 South by Southwest Film Festival and is now streaming on HBO. Among Aldarondo's fellowships and honors are the Guggenheim, a three-time MacDowell Colony Fellowship, the 2022 IDA Emerging Filmmaker Award, 2021 New America Fellowship, and Women at Sundance 2017. In 2019 she was named to DOC NYC's 40 Under 40 list and is one of 2015’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. She teaches at Williams College.

Theo Montoya is a filmmaker, film director, director of photography and sometimes actor of his own movies. His short film, Son of Sodom, was part of the Official Short Film Selection at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival and many other festivals around the world. With this film, he has won several awards, including the Grand Prix of the Drama film festival in Greece, Best short Documentary in Interfilm Berlin, and got a special Jury’s Mention in Clermont Ferrand’s Labo Competition. Anhell69 his first feature film, a co-production between Colombia, Romania, France and Germany, premiered at the 37th Venice Critics' Week (79th Venice International Film Festival), won the Grand Jury Special Mention.