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Lisa Blackmore | Research-led film: After Trujillo (with Jorge Domínguez Dubuc, 2016)
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Research-led film: After Trujillo (with Jorge Domínguez Dubuc, 2016)

 

Eighteen months in the making, in November 2016, Jorge and I travelled back to Santo Domingo to present the research-led documentary that we filmed during our field trip to the Dominican Republic in 2015. It was fascinating to hear people’s different reactions to the film, which revisits the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) to examine the ways in which political power and spatial arrangements intersected, as well as to retrace the emergence of the resistance movements that opposed his violent regime. By interviewing a range of people, from academics to custodians of memory sites and the dictator’s abandoned homes, we sought to get a sense of the way collective memory has taken shape after Trujillo. 

I’ve been blogging about the research project, the process of making the film, and its reception, over at our E-Learning blog:  http://www.phil.uzh.ch/elearning/blog/despues-de-trujillo/

 

Synopsis

Narrated by Dominicans, Después de Trujillo tells the story of the violent dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo through the marks it left on the landscape. A mix of interviews, archival materials, and new footage, tracks the regime’s quests to tame the nation, and surveys sites where past trauma lives on.

Myriad voices—from historians and architects, to activists and torture victims—guide this journey through monuments, memory gardens, and contemporary ruins, moving from the cyclone that devastated Santo Domingo as Trujillo came to power through to the modern architecture erected to consolidate his rule, and the testimonies of resistance that led to his demise.

Amid the remanents of dictatorship that live on after Trujillo, questions arise as to how Dominicans manage this violent legacy. Can built environments and natural ecologies attest to the experience of dictatorship? Or, do they help it to be forgotten instead?

Directed by Jorge Domínguez Dubuc & Lisa Blackmore

Running Time: 72 minutes

Language: Spanish, English subtitles

 

 

About the project

Research-led films offer a means to disseminate visual archival materials and testimonies in ways that go beyond the limited scope of conventional books and articles, creating points of contact between academic debates and public spheres. The original idea for AFter Trujillo originated in December 2014 during the research project “Modernity and the Landscape in Latin America: Politics, Aesthetics, Ecology,” led by Jens Andermann, Chair of Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Within this framework, the documentary probes the relationships between dictatorship, modern architecture, and cultural memory.

After an initial phase of pre-production and research, in May 2015 we spent a month in the Dominican Republic carrying out site visits, interviews, and archival work in the Archivo General de la Nación; the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana; and the Centro Cultural Eduardo Jiménes León. Afterwards, we began the editing process, screening our work-in-progress for colleagues, and the moving on to the final sound and image post-production. The documentary was completed in November 2016, with funding from the University of Zurich E-Learning Department and artEDU Stifung. The film premiered in November and December 2016 in the Dominican Republic, with screenings at universities, cultural institutions, museums, and archives, in the Santo Domingo, Santiago de Los Caballeros, and Altos de Chavón. These events were followed by discussions with local academics, and interviewees who participated in the film, including historians, architects, political activists, geographers, and museum directors.

At the production stage, the film received funding from the University of Zurich and artEDU Stifung. Later, we won a grant from the E-Learning Department at the University of Zurich to build an open access website to disseminate the project, facilitate its use in the classroom, and to publish research articles developed in parallel with the documentary. Developed in collaboration with a student from the University of Zurich, this platform launched in December 2016. February 2017 opens a new cycle of screenings at academic institutions, including the University of Toronto, and Skidmore College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in New York.

 

Production Team

Lisa Blackmore: Producer, Director

Lisa is Postdoctoral Researcher on the project “Modernity and the Landscape in Latin America: Politics, Aesthetics, Ecology” at the University of Zurich, where she is investigating mid-twentieth century landscapes, violence, memory, and contemporary art. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals in Europe and Latin America and her monograph Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space and Visuality in Venezuela, 1948-1958 is forthcoming in 2017 from the University of Pittsburgh Press. As well as lecturing at universities in Venezuela and the UK, Lisa has extensive experience curating contemporary art and photography exhibitions, translating films and books, and working in print and broadcast journalism.

Jorge Domínguez Dubuc – Producer, Director, Camera and Editor

Jorge is a Venezuelan visual artist and documentary maker, who is currently based in Switzerland. After studying art in Caracas, he obtained a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the Chelsea School of Art and Design in London, UK. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows and his video artworks, which are part of the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, have been exhibited across Latin America and Europe. Jorge has more than 15 years experience making, directing and editing documentaries on varied topics, such as contemporary informal architecture and climbers in Patagonia, as well as educational programs on traditional cultural expressions, and animated films.

 

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