NYWIFT Member Screening Q&A: Catherine Opie b. 1961 and AmeRican Poet Tato Laviera

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The June 2020 NYWIFT Member Screening showcased two documentaries about artists: Sini Anderson’s Catherine Opie b. 1961 and Vivian Hernandez Ortiz’s AmeRican Poet Tato Laviera.

Anderson and Ortiz, along with Catherine Opie producer Erin Wright, sat down for a talkback moderated by NYWIFT Community Engagement Director Katie Chambers on June 29th. 


About the Films

Catherine Opie b. 1961
Sini Anderson (Director/NYWIFT Member)
2018, 15 min, DCP

A revealing and intimate portrait of an artist whose work has been labeled subversive. Whether documenting San Francisco’s queer and gender-expansive communities during the AIDS crisis, Texas’ love affair with high school football, or her own devastatingly honest portraits of her body and life as a lesbian mother, each piece forms the foundation of this compelling artist profile, enhanced by the artist’s own revealing insights into her motivations and creative process.


Sini Anderson (Director) is an award-winning film director. Her first feature-length film, The Punk Singer, a documentary about Kathleen Hanna, premiered at SXSW in 2013 and was acquired by IFC Films which distributed a theatrical release in 111 American Cities. Sini’s second feature-length film, So Sick, 2014-2020 is the final phase of production. In 2018 Sini completed a short documentary about American photographer Catherine Opie. The film, Catherine Opie b. 1961, premiered at LACMA’s ART|FILM Gala in November of 2018 and since then a director’s cut has been completed and toured the festival circuit winning awards along the way including HBO’s “Best Documentary Short” at the Provincetown International Film Festival, the “Excellence in American Profiles Award” at San Francisco International Documentary Festival, and the festival-wide “Vimeo Staff Pick” at OutFest Los Angeles. The film also screened in 2019 at the Hamptons International Film Festival in the NYWIFT “Women Calling the Shots” program Women  and at DOC NYC.


Erin Wright (Producer) is Commissioning Editor and Producer of LACMA Productions and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her 30 years of experience in the art world at Sotheby’s, Lannan Foundation, Gagosian Gallery, and LACMA has culminated as a producer of projects with artists and filmmakers. She has been producing documentary films about artists and their work for almost a decade, including films on John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, James Turrell, and Betye Saar. She has collaborated with and commissioned work from filmmakers such as Lance Accord, Sini Anderson, Pippa Bianco, Dime Davis, Richard Dewey and Tim Marrinan, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Alysa Nahmias, Doug Pray, Lisanne Skyler, Christine Turner, Lucy Walker, and Jessica Yu. Her films have earned official selections at some of the leading international film festivals, including Sundance, South by Southwest, Aspen Shortsfest, DOC NYC, Los Angeles Film Festival, Outfest, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Full Frame, and AFI DOCS. She recently produced a feature documentary, The New Bauhaus on the artist László Moholy-Nagy that premiered at the New York Architecture and Design Festival, in Chicago at the International Film Festival in 2019 and on the West Coast at the Palm Springs Film Festival in 2020. The short documentary she produced Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business premiered at Sundance 2020 and is now a New York Times Op-Doc. 


AmeRican Poet Tato Laviera
Vivian Herandez Ortiz (Director/Producer/NYWIFT Member)
2018, 58 min, Digital

AmeRican Poet Tato Laviera is the story of a beloved Nuyorican poet, playwright, and activist from the Lower East Side. Laviera kept his ear to the ground and his eyes on the ever-changing New York City cultural, social, and political landscape. By mixing Puerto Rican culture and language with that of the streets of Loisaida (Lower East Side) and El Barrio, he masterfully created a powerful and diverse body of work by publishing collections of original poems and producing impactful theatrical plays. His skillful use of language, weaving Spanish, English and Spanglish in his poems, addresses language, cultural identity, race, and the sense of alienation – not feeling accepted ni aqui, ni alla – neither here nor there – in one’s adopted land or native homeland.


Vivian Hernandez Ortiz (Director/Producer) is Puerto Rican and a native New Yorker. She attended The High School of Performing Arts, majoring in music. At St. Lawrence University she studied Political Science with a minor in Spanish language. During her sophomore year, she studied literature at the University of Madrid. Senior year she attended the Foreign Policy program at American University. After college, she worked in Washington, DC with National Public Radio’s art program, Performance Today. Years later, she returned to NYC to attend Columbia University School of Journalism, and to be closer to her family. After a fellowship at NBC News, she freelanced as a field producer and eventually landed a staff job at ABC News Primetime. She produced many national and international stories for the newsmagazine shows Primetime and 20/20. She transitioned from network news to work as a Senior Producer, producing and managing original programming, from feature stories to community civic events, for FiOS1 News in Long Island and the greater NY area.

AmeRican Poet Tato Laviera was produced by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies/Hunter College/CUNY (Centro).


Q&A Moderator

Katie Chambers (moderator) is the Community Engagement Director at NYWIFT, where she manages both Communications and Membership.  She will receive regional recognition for her work at NYWIFT from the New York Society of Association Executives when she receives their “Rising Star” award at the Synergy Awards in August 2020, and national recognition when she is named one of Association Trends’ top “Young and Aspiring Executives” at their Salute to Excellence in Washington, DC, in 2021. Prior to joining the NYWIFT team, Katie was a talent agent in the Youth & Young Adult Theatrical division at Abrams Artists Agency in New York City, representing young actors in theatre, film, and television. She has served on the Next Generation Committee of the NY Television Festival, produced a critically-acclaimed play at the NY Fringe Festival, and has worked for Buchwald, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Hollywood producer Scott Rudin. Her writing has appeared in Huff Post, Honeysuckle Magazine and several printed essay collection. Katie graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Drew University with a double major in English and Theatre Arts.


Produced by Katie Chambers


Special thanks to Carlina Rivera and the New York City 2nd Council District
for discretionary funding for the NYWIFT Member Screening Series.

And thanks to Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the Signature Vodka of NYWIFT


Watch More: NYWIFT Programming Goes Digital