Beyond Documentary - Social Transformation through Documentary Beyond Documentary - Social Transformation through Documentary
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BIOGRAPHY

Arévalo is the founder of Beyond Documentary an organization dedicated to the distribution, creation, and teaching of documentary. Currently Arévalo is an artist-in-residence at the Digital Aquarium, Georgia State University where he teaches an intensive documentary workshop to groups of students from the communications, anthropology and art departments. This collaboration has resulted in the production of 14 documentaries, southern stories that are rarely or never told.

Arévalo has produced over 20 documentaries about youth, public health, and immigrant experiences in the United States, education and art. Arévalo's documentary work and the work of his students is recognized for its non-scripted nature. It captures people's stories by using hand-held cameras, natural lighting and sound resulting in documentaries full of candor, vividness, and wisdom.

In 1992 Arévalo founded The Mirror Project in Somerville, Massachusetts to teach teenagers at the Somerville Mystic Housing Developments, Watertown, Cambridge, Boston and other areas of the country how to produce documentaries about their every day experiences. Through an intensive hands-on curriculum, Arévalo guided students through a process of self-discovery and self-representation. After more than a decade of collaboration with teenagers, Arévalo and teen producers created more than 150 short documentaries and many of them have been critically acclaimed, winning prizes and being featured at festivals, universities, and museums nationwide.

Beyond Documentary work is relevant for individuals, practitioners and institutions in the following fields: American Studies, Anthropology, Art Education, Communications, Community Organizing, Colombian Studies, Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies, Immigrant Studies, Latin American Studies, Media Arts, Museum Studies, Public Heath, Psychology, Sociology, Urban Studies, Women's Studies, Youth Services, Social Studies, Social Work, and Spanish.







HISTORY

Roberto Arévalo grew up in a town near Bogotá, Colombia with his mother and four sisters. His father died and his family struggled to make ends meet.

The 80's -

    In 1981 Arévalo immigrated to the United States. For several years, he worked in factories, cleaned offices, washed dishes and bussed tables in New York City. After several years, Arévalo obtained his green card, earned his GED and was the first person in his family to graduate from college. While working as a waiter at the World Trade Center he studied Media Communications at Hunter College.


    During his junior year, he bought a camcorder. He carried it everywhere, videotaping everything that caught his eye: school, the restaurant where he worked, Central Park, the subway, and Jackson Heights, Queens, where the Colombian community lived. As he analyzed his video footage he collected, he began to reflect on his own experiences as an immigrant in the U.S. and as a child growing up in Colombia.


    While a junior in college he produced his first documentary Project Happy. It examined innovative recreational programs for mentally and physically disabled children. Later, he created a series of documentaries about the Colombian community in Queens, New York and for a year, he produced Los Colombianitos, a weekly television/documentary show about the experiences of Colombian immigrants in New York City.

    Arévalo collaborated with Gay Men's Health Crisis to produce Noche de Ronda, an educational video about AIDS prevention aimed at the Hispanic community. He also completed Look What I Saw, which captures moments in the lives of New York City subway riders.

The 90's -

    1992
    Roberto Arévalo founded The Mirror Project in Somerville, Massachusetts to teach teenagers at the Somerville Mystic Housing Developments, Water Town, Cambridge, Boston and other areas of the country how to produce documentaries about their every day experiences. Through an intensive hands-on curriculum, Arévalo guided students through a process of self-discovery and self-representation. Many of the documentaries have been critically acclaimed, winning prizes and being featured at festivals, universities, museums and healthcare facilities nationwide. Arévalo also produced three documentary projects for Deep Dish Network in New York. In 1993 he collaborated with La Alianza Hispana, a Latino social service agency to create Casa Primavera, a documentary about an innovative mental health program for chronically ill Latinos in Boston. He also produced No Hay Paz / There is No Peace with a group of Salvadorian immigrants and refugees recounting the history of El Salvador and detailing the country's 12-year civil war. Later he worked with a group of immigrants from Haiti to produce Haiti: Misunderstood Neighbor? depicting the election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990 and the efforts of the U.S. Haitian community since 1991 to return Aristide to power. The documentaries were satellite-cast throughout the nation by Deep Dish and shown on several PBS stations.

    1994
    Arévalo worked with Tufts University to produce Open to My Life a documentary about the process of 120 middle school students in the Boston area participating on an art project called "Identity Box". Arévalo traveled with two teenagers to Scandinavia to represent the United States in the Second International Video Olympiad. In 1996, the National Association of Local Arts Agencies identified The Mirror Project as one of the most successful projects for at-risk youth in the nation. Arévalo continued to expand his reach beyond Somerville and taught documentary workshops at high schools and other Boston neighborhoods to teenagers and adults from all social classes. After more than a decade of collaboration with teenagers, Arévalo and teen producers created more than 150 short documentaries. In addition, Arévalo lectured throughout the U.S. about documentary production and instruction.

    1997- 2000
    Arévalo shot three documentaries in his native Colombia : Sin Maquillaje/Without MakeUp portraying a school in Ciudad Bolivar, one of the poorest and most forgotten areas of Bogotá; Porvenir/Future a rural mountain village of 400 inhabitants living on the banks of the polluted Magdalena River; Nińos Sin Nińez/Children without Childhood composed of three vignettes in the streets of Bogotá. A group of children clean car windows, two boys push wood carts full of cardboard boxes they have collected and a mother, father and their children spend their days by a traffic light selling fruits.

    1999
    Arévalo produced Women on the Move featuring Brunia Beaubrun from Haiti, Dong Tran from Vietnam, and Fabiola Alvarez from Colombia. These three immigrant mothers and leaders in their homes and communities share their process of adjusting to a new culture and fostering their success despite the innumerable barriers they face.

The New Millennium -

    2000
    Roberto Arévalo was selected as one of 56 artists nationwide to participate in the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's Artists and Communities: America Creates for the Millennium project. He collaborated with the Christina Cultural Arts Center in Delaware on a five-month project "Building a Common Ground" where as an artist-in-residence he taught a group of Wilmington young people to produce documentaries. For additional information on this project see www.artistsandcommunities.org.


    2001-2003
    Arévalo worked with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General and Suffolk County District Attorney's Office to produce and direct Understanding Violence, an educational documentary that explores the roots of violence through the stories of four young people affected by violence in their communities. The places from which these individuals tell their stories -prison, high school, a wheel chair and law school,- reflect the positive and negative consequences of personal choice and also the potential affects of exposure to violence in disadvantaged communities. Understanding Violence has been used in the Boston school system to promote communication among teenagers, police officers and attorneys as a means to prevent violence.

    2003
    Arévalo decided to expand his vision by pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Digital Filmmaking and Art at Georgia State University.


    2006
    For his thesis work, Arévalo decided to return to the Somerville Mystic Housing Projects where he learned how to teach and produce documentaries to put to work his new vision. He decided to produce The Roubbins Cube, a documentary about Roubbins LaMothe a first generation Haitian-American and former student in the Mirror Project. The Roubbins Cube is arranged in six major themes: family, religion, identity, work, race and politics. Roubbins' character was developed by connecting footage shot intermittently for ten years since he was 14 years old. Arévalo used Roubbins' ten tattoos, published writing, frequent walking in the city, and his mother's singing as aesthetic transitions and thematic enhancers throughout the documentary.

    2007
    Arévalo produced La Vision an inside look at those accustomed to being behind the camera: three Georgia State photography students. "In 'La Vision' the observer becomes the observed, Arevalo's obvious presence in this documentary calls the audience to remember that videos are as much about the maker as they are about their subjects. He also completed Weaving Life. Shot in the mountains of Colombia, Weaving Life is a poetic documentary about Rubiel Velasquez a Colombian basket weaver and his family's daily life. The fear of violence, the absence of public health, the lack of financial stability and the disappearance of a livelihood shadow their lives.

    Arevalo's most recent documentary "Un Pensamiento Cubano/ A Cuban Thought " is about twenty-five year old Clarissa Martinez, a literature professor at Havana University who opens her diary, neighborhood and home and exposes her relationship and understanding of herself, capitalism, communism and men.






Roberto Arevalo - 404.509.4204 - info@beyondocumentary.com - PO Box 1751, Decatur, GA 30031