Zero Chill supports emerging underrepresented voices working on their first or second shorts and features. As an independent production house run by BIPOC immigrants and allies, Zero Chill focuses on establishing production and artistic networks with other up-and-coming independent production houses across hemispheres. Zero Chill supports bold BIPOC stories that reflect on filming as a record-making practice among its initiatives.  

In Stay Quiet (Bushwick, Amor Best Short Award 2018), Dominican Cuir director Victoria Linares stages a fictional reenactment of rape trauma to understand its psychological, bodily, and social effects on queer lives. Linares utilizes autoethnography to create an unofficial record of an unspeakable crime in Dominican society that renders women of color particularly vulnerable. The short had an international festival run across Latin America, the Greater Caribbean, and the U.S. for over two years, and a four-week run at an independent theater in Santo Domingo. Likewise interrogating the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, Adolescence (Camden, Dok Leipzig, Guanajuato 2018) by Puerto Rican filmmaker Jose Rodríguez, uses VHS, HI8, and HDV home movies. In piecing these together with the gaps in sound and missing data found during the video restoration process, Rodríguez speculates about middle-class youth’s experience in 1990s Puerto Rico. 

Excavating memory sites, in We Waited Until Nightfall (Art FiFa, NOLA, Best Short-Documentary Shorts MX 2020), Wendy Muñiz and Guillermo Zouain capture a second-generation Lebanese Dominican who immigrated to the U.S. as he revisits from the diaspora the movie theaters he attended as a child in the 1960s-1970s Dominican Republic. These cinemas have been repurposed, and part of the piece’s intent was to transform these spaces of capitalist ritual through audience engagement. The Centro León museum funded the piece for its biennial, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. The directors collaborated with the Cuir Dominican Indie music group MULA and the pathbreaking Víctor Jara Collective to create a multimedia political film. The terror and the time (1979), the documentary produced by the collective on British Guyana’s anti-colonial struggle and directed by Rupert Roopnaraine, provides a path into an alternative critical film history.

In a more recent production, the musical documentary Off the Road (DOC NYC, Hot Springs, Visions du Réel, Interreligieux Award 2020) by José Permar takes as its setting the Baja 1000, the longest off-the-road race in the world that crosses the US-Mexican border yearly. José Permar grew up in Baja California Sur, listening to corridos. Nowadays, the corridos genre is famous for narrating the rise and fall of narcos. Yet corridos originated in the region as popular oral history on the lives of the Mexican Revolution heroes. Permar reclaims the corridos genre to tell the story of how the race impacts the communities on the other side of the U.S. border. The result is a multi-format, community-based memory project that reflects on living in environmental ruin.

Zero Chill believes that in developing, producing, and post-producing unofficial film archives the fact that archive-making has never cut its ties to labor and industry is made visible. To counteract this, our creative collaborations push for embodied cinema practices on all stages of the film production process following the pathbreaking work on decolonial archive-making by Caribbean luminaries like Josefina Báez, Édouard Glissant, CLR James, Isaac Julien, Stuart Hall, Lorgia García-Peña, Roshini Kempadoo, and Michel Rolph-Trouillot. The project bets on cinema as an immersive sensorial experience that can help bring down oppression systems.

by Wendy V. Muñiz