Barrio Television

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: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Pre-Production


Puerto Rican activists in the 1970s rebel against exclusion and occupy a NYC television studio to seize control of national airwaves for the first time.


BARRIO TELEVISION is the untold story of “Realidades,” the first national series by, for and about Latinos, created by Harlem activists in 1972. Following a stunning act of civil disobedience, these radical first-time producers wrote their own rules for a five-season show that brought their community into television.


Without voice-over narration or reliance on commercial television footage, artist-activists of the past will speak to artist-activists today. Through community videotape and public television segments, viewers will learn of the changes in television following the uprisings of the late 1960s and new technologies enabling the decentralization of media. The grainy, experimental and passionate strokes of guerrilla media makers will set the film’s tone. Art displayed by Taller Boricua, contemplating connections of Puerto Ricans with their African and indigenous roots, will show their proud reclaiming of their history and culture. Posters created in the 1970s by activists, representing Puerto Rican freedom fighters and organizing against injustice in their communities, will set the stage for their rebellion. Footage of the members of “Realidades” engaging in their energetic and youthful activism will echo the pulsating archival storytelling in THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND. Still and moving archival images of young Harlem organizers and creatives protesting against oppression and experimenting with filmmaking alternate with interviews filmed today. Viewers will be brought into large demonstrations and intimate community spaces with activists in conversation, as featured in EL PUEBLO SE LEVANTA. In the style of I REMEMBER HARLEM, interviews filmed with “Realidades” pioneers today will show both tightly framed close-up shots that focus on their emotions and medium shots showing their environment and representing characters in conversation with viewers. Indoor locations where audiences will see sit-down interviews will be in community institutions for diverse and independent artists. Outdoor locations in Harlem will be rendered in the wonder of saturated colors like in THE CONSTANT GARDENER. The soundtrack will flow between protest music of the time and their contemporary reimaginings, as in AMANDLA: A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HARMONY. The power of art to unite for change and representation across the ages will be represented in b-roll today of spoken word performances, dancing, showtime on the subway and street art. Music selections will expand from the danza and salsa developing the 1970s to the artistic collaborations of underrepresented artists today. Environmental sound captured in Harlem today will undergird shifting moods in the film. The taps of a basketball on asphalt will drum notes of tension. The laughter of schoolchildren off an afternoon bus will be the notes of community. The grating of passing trains on Harlem subway tracks will move scenes. During the midpoint climax, the fourth wall will be shattered by Humberto Cintron reprising his role as the rebellious television host of “Realidades” to read the speech that writer Piri Thomas was thwarted from reading on the air to a 1971 television audience during their occupation of the television studio. Similar to SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM, viewers will sense this story is intentionally being revealed for them. Sony cameras will transport the audience through generations with different visual feels, mirroring the technological change that ignited their reimagining of media created by diverse communities.


Christina DiPasquale - Director
Christina DiPasquale (writer, director, producer) is the founder and CEO of Balestra Media, specializing in multimedia storytelling for social justice campaigns centered on the perspectives of historically marginalized groups. The four-part documentary series that she executive produced for the Public Welfare Foundation, “Demand More,” “What Love Looks Like,” “It’s All Right There,” and “Prioritizing the Community,” was screened by local groups to support decarceration across the country. Christina led social impact and political media strategy for the documentary series “Truth and Power,” and films including the Oscar-nominated documentary “Dirty Wars,” Robin Wright’s “When Elephants Fight,” Robert Greenwald’s “Unmanned,” “Terms and Conditions May Apply” and “The Internet Must Go.” Christina has media-trained whistleblower Chelsea Manning, youth in Ferguson and clergy, residents and activists in Charlottesville. She leads communications for grassroots groups campaigning for diverse media, including MediaJustice and the Change the Terms coalition.

Livia Perini - Cinematographer
Livia Perini Borraje - (cinematographer: new york) is a cinematographer who has lensed television shows for MTV Brazil, HBO, Food Network, GNT/Globosat and more. Documentary pieces that she filmed and edited have appeared on CNN, Newsweek, VH1, New York Times Op-Docs and Yahoo Mexico. Livia’s short film “Cor de Pele” won the Brazilian Film Academy Award’s Best Short Documentary Prize in 2019 and more than 20 awards worldwide. She holds degrees in journalism, advanced cinematography and digital TV from University Metodista and New York University.


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