ELISEO ART SILVA: Finding the Wide American Earth, 13min., USA
Directed by Loren A Roberts, Roberto San Luis
Eliseo Art Silva, who co-designed the history Filipinotown arch in Los Angeles and has been credited for putting Los Angeles' Filipinotown on the map with his historic “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural, travels to Seattle to research and develop a new mural that links Filipino and Filipino-American history together in a four-panel mural on the wall of the newly-built Filipino Community Village. The film follows the painting of the mural, and speaks with student interns, those who brought Eliseo to the Pacific Northwest, and the artist himself about the mural, the artistic process, and hopes for connecting cultures together through art.
My aim is to center marginalized voices with my work. So I focus my lens on people of color, women, LGBTQ+ -- anyone who sees the world differently than I do. When Roberto San Luis (a good friend, and a Filipino-American himself) came to me with the idea to follow Eliseo Art Silva as he created this amazing mural, I jumped at the chance. Eliseo did not disappoint. A singularly passionate man who thinks deeply about his art -- and his art's place in the world -- Eliseo truly embodies everything that I want to communicate through my filmmaking: engagement with culture, justice for marginalized peoples, education through art, etc. etc. I am grateful to Roberto for bringing me to this project, and grateful to Eliseo for allowing us to document his process for a short time.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Eliseo and the mural were brought to us by HumanGood and Beacon Development, the developers of Filipino Community Village. Roberto (co-director) knew of Eliseo and his work, and had interacted with him before in Southern California. We pitched the idea to follow the creation of the mural and create a short documentary.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Almost two years; we filmed in May 2021, September/October 2021, January 2022, and May 2022, and finished editing the film in June 2022.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The pandemic made it impossible to travel to Seattle as many times as we wanted to.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It is gratifying to see that people are drawn to Eliseo’s passion and advocacy-through-art. That was exciting. It’s interesting to watch people react to something – for the first time – that you have been living and breathing for a few years. Although people truly did get what we were trying to communicate, it also is interesting to observe how each person’s own “filter” or worldview or “lived experiences” brings out unique interpretations and interactions with the film.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
We kind of fell into it…having told stories through visual art and graphic design for over 30 years, it was a fun exercise to move into telling stories through a new medium – film – over the past 15 years.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
A tie between “The Princess Bride” and “Galaxy Quest” (I [Loren] love comedy)
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I love live panels and discussions. I would be interested in exploring how that can happen virtually…
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway has made it possible to get our film viewed by many people…we are grateful.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Ah – a good Japanese or Indian curry is probably my favorite meal (Loren). But go to Roberto’s house (he’s a trained chef) and he will fix some amazing food for you…Filipino dishes or otherwise!
11. What is next for you? A new film?
We are exploring options. I (Loren) have been working with other directors to achieve their vision through DP and editing projects, as well as some corporate gigs.