ENTRE GIGANTES PODCAST

Barrett Holmes Pitner: The Making of Altarts (English)

December 13, 2018 Season 1 Episode 3
ENTRE GIGANTES PODCAST
Barrett Holmes Pitner: The Making of Altarts (English)
Chapters
ENTRE GIGANTES PODCAST
Barrett Holmes Pitner: The Making of Altarts (English)
Dec 13, 2018 Season 1 Episode 3
GUNTHER SANABRIA/JOSE ARISTIMUÑO
En este episodio, conversamos con Barrett Holmes Pitner, periodista y director cinematográfico.
Show Notes Transcript

En este episodio, conversamos con Barrett Holmes Pitner, periodista y director cinematográfico, Barrett actualmente esta trabajando en un documental titulado "Altares" que tiene como misión el empoderamiento y la unificación de la comunidad Latina y Afro-Americana. 
 
 Gunther Sanabria y José Aristimuño, conversan con Barrett sobre su trayectoria, su trabajo en el mundo del periodismo y cinematográfico, al igual que sus consejos para la comunidad Latina y Afro-Americana. 

Speaker 1:
0:00
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to enter. Hagan says, I'm your cohost, Steve Munoz, and on the other side we got gone through a scenario and in the middle we got a special guest with us today, Barrett home spinner. Welcome to the show, man. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. We're happy you're here. But so various a character is. I think you were at, you were at. You got different hats, right? You journalists, producer, producer, filmmaker, writer, writer. Yeah. An opinion columnist. Opinion column and stuff. So, and this is no joke. I've seen buried on MSNBC. You're right for some other public. I've sent you an MSNBC. I know for a fact. Yeah, I was on MSNBC. I write for the daily beast, but I also write for the BBC and the Guardian and Britain for other publications too. So this is. This is the men. This is the man. And you are, by the way, I have to say this. Bear this or first guests full English. This is. Yup. Yup. Well, I wish my Spanish was better, but my English, you and I both.:
Speaker 1:
1:04
Look, I want to get right into it because there's so many things that I want or audience who are listening or watching or reading on us too to know about you. Right. So you're working, you're working, you're working on a film alters, right? Yeah, they are the death one. Exactly. Yeah. So, um, so yeah, I'm from Atlanta, Georgia. I'm from the south. I didn't grow up around the Latino community, but when I moved to DC I just got a bunch of Latino friends just organically, like that's just the community I started hanging out with. And one year, uh, my girlfriend invited me to a day of the dead ceremony, no party at someone's house and I had no clue what this was, was happening. I was just like, you know, these are my friends. I'm showing up and I don't know what's going on with your name.:
Speaker 1:
1:49
Whenever the everyone has like face paint on and I'm not like a big face painter myself. And I was like, this is, this is bizarre. But then the more I was there, I just saw how incredible it was and how it gave the community the opportunity to come together and talk about their, their ancestors and their history and just everything that brings them together. And they had this moment, you know, every year to do that for three days and I see my girlfriend would make an altar and in our house and I was like this. At first I thought it was kind of bizarre, but it started making, making sense. And at the time as a, as a journalist, I was doing a lot on black lives matter. And so there was a conversation in my community about making sure people knew that like our lives mattered and this was in response to death, right?:
Speaker 1:
2:37
And people would make altars for Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, Eric Gardener. And so to see them all the time. And so I saw this, this natural connection. But the key distinction was for the Latino community, the Mexican community, it was proactive. It wasn't pegged to something horrible happening in our community that galvanized us and brought us together to tell our stories. It was, we have three days every year that brings us together that we tell our stories and bring people, invite people into our homes. I, at that point, it really started to click that this is something that can be quite beneficial for my community. Let's start having the wheels turn and try it.:
Speaker 2:
3:14
Great. Let me get this straight because this is, I think it's super important that it's key for everybody. Here's an African American brother, right? Saying that there's something from the Latino community that you think it's worth enough to bring into your community. They can be beneficial for the growth of you guys. Right? So there's an interconnection between Latinos and African Americans.:
Speaker 1:
3:34
Yeah. So I think 100 percent it frankly, when you're in the United States, uh, you interact with a lot of different people and I think there's a notion in our society to kind of have everyone be siloed and you know, one community over here and won't commute over here. But naturally we're all gonna come together and just mix in some capacity. And so I think it makes more sense to emphasize and try to find a way is that when we mixed that we can share our cultures to enhance both groups. So I definitely think that, uh, the day of the dead in certain aspects of the Latino community that have clear connection to the African American community can help my community. And likewise, I think my perspective as an African American and seeing how I see connections with the Latino community based on what my community is all about can improve the Latino community too. So I think there a really just a, a very strong and profound opportunity for us to work together to raise both communities up. So. So yeah, I definitely think there's some benefits. So:
Speaker 2:
4:36
very, let me, let me try to put myself in your shoes or you know, because you walk into a, a, a celebration that is cross I religious experience, you know, so you, you look at it this, you're there, you're, you're the party is the day of the dead. And you look at it as a religious thing. You look at it as a cold thing. Because I, I've, I've been in a lot of them and a lot of people look at it as a party, you know, it's a separation of a festival, but they didn't give the importance. They didn't, they didn't find the connection like you did. So. So you see these as a actually tell us how you looked at it for the first time when you, when you went there.:
Speaker 1:
5:18
Yeah. So I'd say, um, so the church, you know, Christianity is really big in the African American community. I've grew up in the church. My grandfather was a minister personally. I'm not a super religious individual. Uh, it just, I've just never been to fixated about what happens to me when I'm dead, you know, I'm not going to know the answer. I'm going to have a greater likelihood of understanding what's going to happen to me, one of my live, then I will what? I'm dead. So I'm not focusing on that. But I could see how the day of the dead was really Cathartic. And even if you believe that the, the, your ancestors coming home or whatnot, like you don't necessarily need to believe that for it to be beneficial for you to talk about them or to remember them. So I think there's a really clear like religious connection for day of the dead, but also a very like legitimate, secular connection where just as an individual living today, what do you think human feeling she may feel like, what are some things that I need to do to be a better version of myself as often as I can and this tradition is one of those things where I think and I could and I could see that whether someone's having a party, just the act of bringing people into your house and taking the time over a month to create an alter and finding the photos and the trinkets and making the food.:
Speaker 1:
6:40
Just dedicating that amount of time and bringing people into your house to share that. That effort is really important. Family members come from all over the country for this particular moment, for this celebration. It's not a party. Greg is used as a commercial party, but it's a celebration. America tries to commercialize everything, so that's just what, you know, you can get something from another country and it can be a very profound coming together that's spiritual and yet articulated in, you know, how Americans would use English and we'll, we'll say it as a party and something that can be branded and marketed and that's just, that's just the nature of our society. But kinda now let me, let me ask you this. You said this to us behind the seat. I want, I want everybody in the to know because this is, this is part of who you are and I think this is part of why you're making this film and it's this everybody who's listening watching this is this.:
Speaker 1:
7:33
You had a death in the family. Yeah. Yeah. And through that you said you know what, you grieve that your death in the family part of it, at least from what I understood it using the day, day of the dead, is that somewhat correct? Yeah, so I'd say before, so last year my cousin passed away and you have to be totally honest, we, he lived far away. We didn't hang out as much as you imagined, like cousins who live like right down the street from me, but it's, we're, we're, we're family and I went to the funeral and I could see how much my uncle and my aunt and other family members were struggling with it. And at that point that's when the light bulb went off a bit more because up until that point it was really like a theoretical, conceptual understanding I had were like, I could see how this could benefit someone, but I've never, I never needed to apply it, you know, but then you can happen to you.:
Speaker 1:
8:27
Exactly. And so then it happened to my family and I could see. So like I guess, so after my cousin passed away I started trying to call my uncle a bit more just to chat with them, just, you know, make sure you see how he's doing. And he, uh, my cousin lived in St Louis as my uncle and I could see that like cousins still had a bunch of stuff and my uncle and my aunt's house until my uncle had to figure out what to do with it. And if you don't have a structure to help you know what to do with, you know, the things were like, what do you do at the, do you keep everything, you throw everything away, like, well, you know, what do you do it at day of the dead, I, you know, you put something on the altar of someone that matters to you.:
Speaker 1:
9:07
So this would have enabled him to go through a sun stuff and say, you know what, I'm going to keep this thing, these five things, whatever. And I'm okay with getting rid of the other things because I'm going to put these on the altar every year now talking about. And so, like just basic structures like that so that you don't feel as lost or confused or alone. And like I really could see how I could profoundly help my family. Uh, and so that's one of the, I think that was kind of like the final one where it's like, okay, I just have to do it because there's a really practical application within my family of having them do it. And so, uh, we shot for. So for the film already, we shot some stuff in Atlanta with my parents and you know, it was really Cathartic and just incredible because we'd, my parents went around the house and they found all the family members of anyone that we knew that passed away that we had any kind of photo when we talked about each one of those people.:
Speaker 1:
10:05
And these are conversations that you don't. There is no other reason to have these conversations with. You don't have, unless you have something like day of the dead that encourages you to talk about these people that matter to you. So, you know, my dad talked about his mom passed away before I was born and all sorts of stuff like that. And you know, all these ancestors and all these stories and you know, you take these two to the family center. So I want to ask you, do you think or what you were making the film, do you looked at it as this is going to be viewed differently by a African American family or Latino family, white family. Do you think that the race and background for families my play differently when they, when they look under film or the day of the dead, you know, possibly it's hard to really anticipate how someone's going to an interpret, uh, how one family's discusses their history.:
Speaker 1:
11:02
Uh, but what I will say is one thing that I like a lot of day of the dead is since you make an altar in your house, there is no expectation that it's going to be homogenous. Like, like if you make an altar and your sister makes an altar, we're not expecting to be an exact same way. And so my family's a participation in the celebration. I think there's going to be a natural expectation that it will be different than a Mexican families. And that's perfectly okay because we have different families. And so I think that's also one of the great things about, about the celebration. It's not expecting everyone to be the same, it's just expecting each person to have the space to talk about these types of things and invite friends and you know, into their home to share these conversations so you can learn more about the people. Let me, let me put him in here.:
Speaker 2:
11:54
I'm curious because you said you started filming in Atlanta. We to leave from you filmed with your family. You talk to everybody within the family or some folks within the family spoke about deaths that have occurred. It is dare to death, right? That's a. it's a Mexican tradition. Are you going to travel to Mexico unit opened Mexico or what's the plan there?:
Speaker 1:
12:14
Yeah, so the big part about this film and a lot of the questions I have, you know people have asked me is making sure I'm not appropriating a any kind of culture. And the key way to answer all those questions is to go to the places because even if I know, let's say hypothetically, I know 95 to 90 percent of everything you need to know that extra five percent or a 10 percent is essential to have any kind of legitimacy with this type of endeavor. So yeah, going to Mexico is his first, first trip on our list. Once we get the necessary funding to continue with the project. Uh, Mexico, Mexico City, Wahaca, maybe a couple other cities. Um, fam right off the bat is that film was a film coming out. So our plan is to shoot through. I'm 2019 and culminate at a with a bigger cross cultural day of the dead celebration in 2019.:
Speaker 1:
13:12
So it's like the, the structure of the film is to show a progression where we, we shot and we started like we started in, we started in DC, we started in Atlanta and it's a genuine attempt to do it as, as honest and as well as we can. And then now we go on a journey and we talked to people in Mexico. The next stop would be, uh, we're, we're planning on is like San Antonio because it's a pretty homogenous Mexican city in the United States, which means that they do day of the dead, slightly different than they do it in Mexico, but it's still legitimate, you know, like if you talk to someone in San Antonio, it comes day of the dead. They're going to the store and buying a bunch of stuff. If you go to Mexico, they're spending a month and they're making stuff or they go into the field and gang the flower.:
Speaker 1:
13:59
So there's a natural subtle difference that's happening because you live in a different place. More traditional. Yeah. And then you go. So then next thing you know, there's large Mexican communities in Los Angeles, but in Los Angeles it's far less homogenous than it is in San Antonio. So the people who day of the dead are also collaborating with, with the Japanese Americans and African American because their neighbors. And so now we're already getting into this organic diversity sharing of culture. That is the US. And uh, and then I think that goes a pre creates a bridge into the African American community because they had the dad is at its core and indigenous tradition and when you look at cultures that haven't been completely changed due to colonization, the, there is always some sort of celebration of round related to the. Yeah. And so there's a lot of African cultural traditions or Caribbean ones that, that segment of the black community use as, but they're not mainstream because there's like there's just so many of them.:
Speaker 1:
15:01
But now we can have those types of conversations who the Mexican day and then at the last destination is to go to Africa and bring in something from what my African ancestry so that when I make an altar we can go as far back as I can recall. That's a great look. We can't, we're wondering another time but we cannot let you go if I don't let my. I was going to ask you a question about what inspired, you know, folks who are listening to this that maybe when I get into film, so, so, so for this is it. Look, you are a successful director, writer, there are tons of trump that we live in, you know, we have minorities, we have Latinos, we have African American being shuttered, the, the, the black, you know, black lives matter. What would be your message and as an inspiration but not, not as a, as a idealistic, like a real thing that you will give to the younger generation, the young producers, the young students that are thinking, I want to create a film to an I, I want to create a freely.:
Speaker 1:
16:06
I don't want to be restricted by who I am or my race or my background. What were you doing? Uh, so it's, it's, it's complicated. I guess the most, the key thing is you, if you really have a passion to do it, then you're, you just need to find a way to do it. There's going to be in a, in a, in the US, if you're not, uh, that Kinda all American midwestern, white person, there's going to be some kind of narrative that's going to make you think you can't do something. That's key. That's key. And you know, that narrative isn't really based on anything that's real, so just don't pay much attention to it because obviously the community, they'll see it a lot. Like April thing, I'm Latino or I'm black, I can't do it, I'm not good enough. I will say there will be obstacles that you will have that won't, that somebody else may not have.:
Speaker 1:
16:55
But if you spend too much time comparing yourself to somebody else, then you're like that focusing on what you probably should be doing. So just if there's, there's gonna be tons of narrative saying that you can't do stuff or that you're bad because you look a certain way and that's just not based on anything that's just propaganda. Whereas before I let you go, where can we find. Obviously the film is still in them, in the process one, if people want to, you know, I know you got a trailer out there, a website where folks can get teasers run at the movie film. You'll be showing things on the website. He's got a trailer in Spanish, but Spanish subtitles. It's important to. Yup. Um, and obviously there's a money component, like everything in life. Yeah, unfortunately that you need to raise money to be able to travel the world to go Africa, Mexico, where can people donate and things like that.:
Speaker 1:
17:41
Yeah. So you can go to my website, it's a beret homes, pitner.com and there's a tab on the website for our altars and then there is, you know, a Spanish one that's, you know, alter as there anyway, and you can click on it, watch the video, there's a button on that to donate and you can make a contribution. And once you make a contribution, you, I'll get your email address, you become part of the team, you get updates, you find out all about what's happening on the film. You kind of in a lot of this project in many ways is building a community. So donations and people becoming part of the precision right around it.:
Speaker 1:
18:13
So by exactly we have a conversation and by contributing and visiting the website, you become part of the community part of the conversation and you get to help shape and influence and help educate me about things I need to do to make sure that films really good. Dope. I love it. So let me, let me say one more thing quickly. For those of you guys who are watching us on youtube or belong to the description, people can see people can click on the link, the website, um, otherwise I will sit here and smell everything and that's going to take a little while. And for those of you that are listening to us on spotify, itunes, and all the other wonderful platforms under the description, we will also have the link so people can donate. Yeah. Perfect. Barrett, thank you so much for being here, man. You are looking forward to the film. Absolutely. Thanks. Thanks very much. Buried homes and this,:
Speaker 3:
19:02
can I ask you the next time.:
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