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LatinaLista: Almudena guest-blogs

The popular blogger LatinaLista has asked me to do a guest blog on their site describing our experience making and distributing Made in L.A.... Here's part of her introduction to my guest-blog:

"Intent on capturing on film the atrocities immigrant workers are subjected to in making cheap clothing for U.S. consumers on U.S. soil, Almudena embarked on a journey that spanned five years and resulted in an Emmy award-winning film that showcases the struggles of immigrant workers, their bravery and the one thing that has been a constant in all their lives - never giving up on their dream to succeed in the United States."

Read the full blog at:

Citizen Jane Film Festival: bringing the community together in Columbia, MO

From Tulsa, I flew to the very first Citizen Jane Film festival, at the invitation of my friend Kerri Yost. Kerri and I were lucky enough to be hotel roommates the year we both won awards at Silverdocs for our short docs (she received the Audience Award for "Billy" and I received the Sterling Jury Prize for "Welcome. A docu-journey of impressions"). Kerri is now head of the film department at Stephens College, and in collaboration with Polina Malikin, just launched the very first women's film festival in the heart of Columbia, MO, home of the celebrated True/False Film Festival. It felt really nice to be surrounded by women filmmakers and artists!

The screening of Made in L.A., which was sponsored by Radio Adelante, a Spanish-language news program which airs each week on public radio station KOPN 89.5, brought together diverse panelists from the community who linked the issues in the film to the specific conditions of immigrants and other workers in Missouri.

Carolina Escalera from Radio Adelante described the event: "Radio Adelante invited leaders from the region's Latino community to talk about how the film relates to issues in Missouri. The panel included researchers, professors, community and youth leaders. Radio Adelante seeks to inform the public and spark conversations that give voice to Latinos in mid-Missouri because this group is often misunderstood or marginalized. The movie and the panel helped create a forum for conversations on work conditions, language barriers, community advocacy and leadership. Radio Adelante is proud to be a part of promoting conversations like this one. Made In L.A. helps people learn about others and realize that most people are searching for the same things in life... If you haven't seen the movie, we hope you do!"

You can read an article about the film (and me, I guess) in Vox Magazine that came out right before the festival, or check Rebecca Martinez's comment about Made in L.A. in our Audience Reactions page (Rebecca was at the panel and teaches at the Women and Gender Studies Department at the University of Missouri).

Made in L.A. launches Cine Club Latino in Tulsa, OK

I spent the last weekend traveling through the Midwest. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the organizers of the new Cine Club Hispano invited me to come screen Made in L.A. as their launch event. It was an inpiring event and I asked Ximena, of the organizers, to write something about the event. Her words couldn't be more beautiful...

Ximena Castaneda and Margarita Vega-Treviño introduce the event

"The messages of the documentary Made in L.A. and its producer Almudena Carracedo were like seeds in fertile land during the launch of the First Cine Club Hispano of the city last September 17th. Since Oklahoma approved last November one of the harshest laws against undocumented immigrants, hundreds of Latino leaders have united to fight for the respect of human rights. To reclaim the positive image of Latinos, who contribute so much to the economic growth of this country, has been a priority.

In this context Margarita Vega-Treviño, director of the Hispano de Tulsa newspaper (the oldest in the Oklahoma Northwest) and I decided to create the Latino Cine Club in the Circle Cinema theater. With the goal of initiating an open dialogue inside the community, through Latino cinema, that promotes a better understanding of social, historical, political and cultural reality of the Latin-American nations."

Academics, representatives from important organizations, religious leaders, students, organized women and heads of households attended this unforgettable night. "It is possible to transform fear into justice", asserted one of the participants, referring to the current situation of undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma. Her words "May the film inspire each of us to work for those who are suffering because of their ignorance of their rights!" -made the crowd erupt into applause.

The film Made in L.A., which served to inaugurate the Cine Club Latino of Tulsa, was such an interactive journey of personal growth. It started with the story lived by María, Maura and Lupe in their search for their rights as garment workers. It ended with the public completely moved and inspired, full of questions and eager to start looking, inside their own reality, for their own answers."

Ximena Castaneda
Journalist and staff writer of Hispano de Tulsa


He pasado el último fin de semana viajando por el Midwest. En Tulsa, Oklahoma, las organizadoras del nuevo Cine Club Hispano me invitaron a presentar Made in L.A., como evento de lanzamiento de la organización. El evento fue muy emotivo, y le pregunté a Ximena, una de las organizadoras, que escribiera algo sobre ello. Sus palabras no podrían ser más bonitas...

Ximena Castaneda y Margarita Vega-Treviño presentando el evento
"Granos de semillas en tierra fértil fueron los poderosos mensajes del documental Made in L.A. y las palabras de su productora, Almudena Carracedo, durante la apertura del Primer Cine Club Hispano de la ciudad, el pasado viernes 17 de septiembre.

Desde que el primero de noviembre del año anterior, fuera aprobada en Oklahoma una de las leyes más fuertes en contra de los inmigrantes indocumentados, cientos de líderes latinos se han unido para luchar por el respeto de sus derechos humanos. Reivindicar el nombre de los latinos, que tanto contribuyen al crecimiento económico de este país, ha sido desde entonces una prioridad.

Dentro de este marco, Margarita Vega-Treviño, directora del periódico Hispano de Tulsa (el más antiguo del noroeste de Oklahoma) y yo Ximena Castañeda, periodista y escritora del mismo medio, decidimos formar el Cine Club en el teatro Circle Cinema. Con el objetivo de "iniciar un dialogo abierto dentro de la comunidad, a través del cine latino, que promueva un mayor entendimiento de las realidades sociales, históricas, políticas y culturales de las naciones Latinoamericanas".

Académicos, representantes de importantes organizaciones, líderes religiosos, estudiantes, mujeres organizadas y padres de familia acudieron a esta inolvidable velada.
"Es posible transformar el miedo por la justicia" afirmó una de las participantes al referirse específicamente a la situación actual de los indocumentados en Oklahoma. Sus palabras: "Que la película nos impulse a cada uno de nosotros a trabajar por aquellos que están sufriendo a causa del desconocimiento de sus derechos", arrancaron los aplausos de los allí presentes.

La película Made in L.A. que inauguró el Cine Club Latino de Tulsa, fue todo un viaje interactivo de crecimiento personal. Comenzó con la historia vivida durante tres años por María, Maura y Lupe, en su búsqueda por el reconocimiento de los derechos de los trabajadores de la costura. Terminó con un público totalmente conmovido e inspirado, lleno de preguntas e inquieto por empezar a buscar dentro de su realidad, respuestas propias."

Ximena Castaneda
Periodista y escritora de Hispano de Tulsa

Event brings together African-Americans and Latinos

CHARLOTTE, NC. Made in L.A. was recently featured as the "Saturday Night Event" at the Community Investment Network (CIN) Conference. CIN is a non-profit organization that encourages organizations and individuals to think and act more strategically with their giving to impel greater social change in their communities. The event brought together African-American philanthropists with members of Charlotte's Latin-American Coalition, and a number of other philanthropic leaders. The post-screening dialogue brought out themes of shared struggles and common goals and was such a beautiful reminder of the power of Made in L.A. to reach across perceived boundaries and help make change...

The story of how this event came about is particularly beautiful. Last May, at the end of the awards ceremony at the Council on Foundations Conference, where Made in L.A. received the Henry Hampton Award, we had the opportunity to meet Darryl Lester, head of the Community Investment Network (CIN). He expressed interest in Made in L.A. and we offered to send him a DVD so that he could see the film. A few months later Dionne Lester from CIN sent us the most beautiful e-mail explaining how moved she and Darryl had been by the film and inviting us to come show the film at their national conference!

The Community Investment Network (CIN), which was launched with the help of the Ford Foundation, is cultivating a new cadre of philanthropic leaders from communities of color who recognize their civic responsibilities and their power to influence mainstream philanthropy. With the goal of leveraging its social capital and charitable giving to create the communities it wishes to see, CIN is currently composed of nine giving circles of more than 130 new and seasoned philanthropists.

Made in L.A. continues international premieres!

In the month of October, Made in L.A. will have four more international premieres: at the prestigious Sao Paulo International Film Festival (Brazil); "Itinéraires": Women Make Waves Film Festival (Taiwan); Festival du Film Documentaire et de Fiction Latino-américain (Belgium); and Document 6 International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Scotland). Here's to many more!

At FIND’s Filmmaker Conference

Don't we look tired...?
[Photo courtesy of FIND]

Back in LA after the Emmys, we presented a case study at Film Independent's (FIND) annual Filmmaker Forum, which is both a very nice gathering and an excellent learning opportunity. I have to say we were a bit exhausted from all of our NY travel, but the presentation seemed to be quite inspiring for a lot for the attendees - and, really, we love sharing our story...!

Made in L.A. back at New York’s IFW, more NY Events

Robert, Peter, Sandi and me after the panel
In September 2004 Robert and I attended the IFP market in NY to raise funds for our still work-in-progress Made in L.A. Happily, four years later we're back, this time to present a case study on the funding and distribution of Made in L.A. The panel was led by distribution consultant/guru Peter Broderick, and, in addition to Made in L.A., the panel featured DIY filmmaker/outreach legend Sandi Dubowski (Jihad for Love, Trembling before G-d). Although short (how do you fit so much in one hour?) it provided an interesting snapshot of the marketing and outreach strategies that had been used for each film.

As if a whole week at the market was not enough, on Saturday afternoon, we had arranged to do a case study for Doculinkers in New York, and we spent 4 hours telling the story of how we raised funds to make Made in L.A. and how our funding model worked.

And, because Robert and I are not happy if we don't pack our schedule, we also held a beautiful screening of Made in L.A. at the North Star Fund, organized in collaboration with Arts Engine. It was a very very nice, intimate screening where we got to discuss the process of making Made in L.A. and how we're using the film to make an impact.


Made in L.A. wins Emmy!!!

We are thrilled beyond words to report that Made in L.A., which started as such a small grassroots project, has just won an Emmy award! The film received the Emmy at the 29th Annual News and Documentary Emmy® Awards in the category of Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story-Long Form at a ceremony on Monday night in New York. Made in L.A. has been a six-year journey, and we couldn't be happier to have received this honor. Robert and I were both there to accept the award and it was exciting and very moving...

Acceptance speeches provide a unique opportunity to say "thank you", since this film could not have been made without the care, support and encouragement of literally hundreds of people. And so we took the moment to thank our families, our friends, our amazing crew, the organizations that believed in us (including NALIP and our fiscal sponsor Women Make Movies), and the hundreds of individuals that have supported this film throughout its journey. Special thanks must also go to our Executive Producers Simon Kilmurry, Cara Mertes and Sally Jo Fifer, and to Cynthia Lopez, Annelise Wunderlich and the amazing teams at American Documentary | P.O.V. and ITVS that took such care and devotion in bringing Made in L.A. to a national audience. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to PBS and to our funders ITVS, POV, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Latino Public Broadcasting, CPB, Pacific Pioneer Fund, Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society, Diane Middleton Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Agape Foundation, and nearly 300 individual donors. Finally, we thank our outreach partners for helping us to spread the word and make an impact!

Above all, we owe the deepest, most personal thanks to the people in the film and to the three amazing women in Made in L.A., Lupe, Maria and Maura, who opened their lives to us and allowed us to capture and portray their stories in Made in L.A. As we said in front of more than 1,200 attendees on Monday night, we dedicate this award to them, because it was their fight for their rights and personal dignity that taught us the true meaning of courage and perseverance.

Launching the Community Screenings Campaign

Over the past year, we've been looking for a good model to empower community groups, student groups and faith-based groups to do screenings of Made in L.A. We have just launched a suite of free downloadable "Do-It-Yourself" materials that, along with a screening kit (described in the next paragraph), provide organizations with everything they need to publicize and present a successful, impactful screening. Materials include customizable bilingual flyers, mini-posters, template press releases, and a 12-page "Event Planning Toolkit" that walks through the process of setting event objectives, determining target audiences, using an event to build or strengthen coalitions, contacting media, doing effective outreach, and much more.

As grassroots filmmakers, we deeply understand the financial constraints of small organizations. We have thus created an innovative screening kit that contains all the materials needed for a great event (full-size movie posters, DVDs, postcards) and that is essentially free. Here's how it works: while organizations do have to pay to order a kit, the kit "pays for itself" because it includes enough extra DVDs to sell at the screening to cover the cost of the kit. All proceeds help us continue our outreach and education efforts, and thus the kits help support both sustainable social-issue filmmaking and sustainable grassroots organizing.

Check our brand-new Host a Screening page!

Latino Heritage Month screenings

We salute Latino/a Heritage Month and are happy to see that Made in L.A. is being used to highlight the work and spirit of Latinos in the US. Made in L.A. will be screened at numerous events (both on campus and off campus). To check cities and venues, visit our Screenings page!

PBS to re-air Made in L.A for Latino Heritage Month

PBS has announced today the selection of films that will be part of Latino Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15. Made in L.A. is one of them! Read here for more information.

Made in L.A. garners Emmy Nomination!!!

We are thrilled to report that Made in L.A. has been nominated for an Emmy!!! The film is nominated as part of the 29th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards in the category "Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story, Long Form."

The nominees were announced by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). The News & Documentary Emmy® Awards will be presented on Monday, September 22 at a ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located in the Time Warner Center in New York City. We will of course, be there! Wink

As one might imagine, this was very exciting news for everyone who has been part of making this film. A friend of ours wrote us to say: "A rockin' film about immigrant workers rights gets an Emmy nomination! I've died and gone to heaven." That's kind of how we feel...!

Made in L.A. nominated for Imagen Award AND Alma Awards Finalist!

We are so happy to announce that Made in L.A. has been nominated for Best Documentary for the  prestigious Imagen Awards, which honors positive portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in television and film, and works to enhance opportunities for Latinos in front of and behind the camera. The awards will be presented on August 21 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

We are also proud that Made in L.A. is a finalist for the Alma Awards in the category of Outstanding Made-for-TV-Documentary. The Alma Awards are given by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. NCLR created the ALMA Awards in 1995 and "the show was named "Alma" (Spanish for "spirit" or "soul") to represent the determined spirit of the Latino people."

Made in L.A. at the Spanish Academy / En la Academia de Cine Español

The Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just held special screening of Made in L.A. in Madrid as part of the "Discover the New Spanish Documentary Film" cycle. It was an honor! It was well-publicized, and we had a full house, with both Robert and myself there for a long Q & A. The previous day, the Academy held a round table with filmmakers Javier Corcuera (Winter in Baghdad), Gerardo Olivares (14 Kilometers), Isaki Lacuesta (The Legend of Time) and myself discussing "The borders between fiction and non-fiction film". It was fun!

La Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España acaba de hacer una proyección especial de Made in L.A dentro del ciclo "Descubre el Nuevo Documental Español". Estuvo muy bien publicitado y tuvimos de nuevo la sala hasta arriba, con la presencia tanto mía como de Robert en un largo coloquio posterior. El día anterior la Academia organizó además una mesa redonda con los realizadores Javier Corcuera (Invierno en Bagdad), Gerardo Olivares (14 Kilómetros), Isaki Lacuesta (La Leyenda del Tiempo) y yo misma sobre el tema "Las fronteras entre el documental y la ficción". Estuvo muy interesante!

Silverdocs 2008, A Year Later

Robert Bahar, Joann Lo, me, Lupe and Maura last year at the World Premiere of Made in L.A. (Photo by Lauren Ruane AFI)
In June, Robert and I attended Silverdocs, where just a year earlier, Made in L.A. had had its World Premiere. It was June 2007, and we had just finished the film a few days before the festival (we didn't even have this website!) Lupe and Maura came with us and "starred" in the premiere, where we all received multiple standing ovations from an audience of nearly 400 people.
It was extremely moving...

With Peter Broderick at Silverdocs Documentary Conference 2008
So it was especially beautiful to return to Silverdocs one year later to present a case study of Made in L.A. and to share with other filmmakers the path we followed to raise funds over the five years making this film. We also had the honor to have distribution consultant Peter Broderick moderate the workshop and to place our experience into a broader context. You can read some notes from the presentation on Erica Ginsberg's (Docs in Progress) blogs about the Silverdocs Conference.

With Sky Sitney (Silverdocs Director of Programming) and Steve James
In addition to the panel, I was especially honored to be invited to serve as one of three members of Silverdocs' Sterling World Competition Jury. Although it is hard to judge fellow filmmakers (we should all be awarded just for persevering and being able to finish a film at all!), it was an incredible opportunity to think deeply about films, and a joy to share the jury experience with legendary filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie) and with the charming Igor Blazevic International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.

I have the feeling that life is giving me second opportunities to make up for what I wasn't able to do before. Last year we were so busy (as we were also having our West Coast premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival a week later!) that we spent far too much time working in the hotel room - day and night. So this year we went to as many screenings and parties as we could - and I am happy to say that we were able to make up for what we missed!



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