INNOVATOR: Sisa Bueno, documentary filmmaker

VIDEO: Jackie Carrero and Alessandra Hickson

For nearly seven years, documentary filmmaker Sisa Bueno has dedicated her life to capturing history. Bueno’s feature-length project “We of The Saya,” follows Bolivia’s African descendants as they seek recognition in the country’s newly constructed constitution during the Latin American “spring” circa 2000-2010. She is a native New Yorker and an New York University graduate. Bueno is raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign for “We of the Saya,” which is in post-production. Bueno is hoping for a 2014 release, but knows –after seven years– that these things take time. As she draws closer to conclusion, Bueno simply says, “I can’t wait to share this story with the world.” For more information about the film, please visit the official site for “We of the Saya.”

AGE: 30

HERITAGE: . I am first-generation American from a Cuban mother and a Dominican father.

HOMETOWN: I’m a native New Yorker. I’m from the borough of Queens and I moved around a lot within Queens. But being from Queens is really kind of very unique because it’s the most diverse borough in the city. You can encounter anybody from anywhere. Any kind of food from anywhere. So in a sense, you kind of travel the world without going too far.

BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED: Keeping the faith is always a good saying. Not only that, but to remember things will work out and if you work hard it will probably turn out in your favor.

BEST DAY ON THE JOB: I lived in Bolivia for a very long time while doing this film. To me, the experience itself was amazing. It really was life changing for me as an individual to learn about a different culture, a different way of life – engaging and sharing with different people. Watching them, witnessing them take on these great challenges and change their country from the bottom up was an amazing thing to witness. For me, Bolivia will always hold a special place in my heart because I was there at a time when it was reborn and changed for the better.

WORST DAY ON THE JOB:  I think the biggest struggle I had with this film is communicating what I’m doing to people here in the States. It’s been challenging to talk to them about the film in the past because there was no real context to place my work in. The significance of people working with grassroots, changing their country from the bottom up, really did not stick with people here at the time. But now — interestingly enough– in this current climate that we live in, the world is now focused on uprising, social movements and social change. Now people have found a context to sort of receive my film and really understand it. So now the film is coming into its own and it’s coming up and will be finished at the right time.

LIVING PERSON YOU MOST ADMIRE: I’m a big fan of Eduardo Galeano. He’s an Uruguayan writer. He wrote the book “Open Veins of Latin America.” That book really changed me, it opened my eyes. As a person who is Latin American, but didn’t have a good sense of Latin American history and colonial history in the region, that book really set the stage for me, in terms of my understanding my own history. And for that he is a great inspiration.

LAST TIME YOU FELT TRULY ANGRY: The last time I felt really angry I was tear gassed in a protest in Bolivia. There were a lot of clashes going on during my time there. The film does cover that. And it wasn’t easy running a camera in crowds of people fighting with each other, explosions and — like I said– tear gas in the face.

MOST TREASURED POSSESSION: One of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten was from an elderly indigenous woman in Bolivia. She gave me a sculpture of a head with a spout on top. At the time of pre-colonization, they would use these really beautifully designed pots as places to store liquids such as water. It’s a head, then there’s a spout. You can just pour it out into your cup.

FAVORITE FOOD MEMORY: My favorite food memory will hopefully make the final cut in the film. I was filming Martina doing her work for the first time. She is a cocoa farmer, so she harvests cocoa leaves for a living, which is hard, back-aching, back-breaking work. She, her husband Miguel and her daughter Rosa harvest leaves everyday. And this is the first day I was filming them. On their property, they have a little small hut that is not their home, it’s for breaks. And, she made rice, tomatoes, avocado and this medley of onions. And we had a few guests — bats above us as we ate! That was the best moment ever.

%d bloggers like this: