Omar Sosa’s Eighty-Eight Well-Tuned Drums is a documentary about the life and music of Cuban-born pianist and composer Omar Sosa. The film features interviews and never-before-seen footage of multiple performances set against the backdrop of recording sessions for Sosa’s 2015 album, Ilé.
The film traces Sosa’s origins from his birth in Camagüey, Cuba’s third-largest city, conservatory education in Havana, and relocation to Ecuador where he briefly wrote and arranged commercial jingles. Sosa’s story continues with a fateful mid-90s move to the U.S., a stint as a sought-after sideman in the Bay Area’s Latin jazz scene, and partnership with manager Scott Price that continues to this day.
Since 1997, Sosa has released 24 albums and received four Grammy nominations and three Latin Grammy nominations. Performing approximately 80 concerts on six continents annually, Sosa is known for a rhythmic style (hence the “Drums” of the film’s title) and musical influences as varied as his travel itinerary.
Beginning in 2013, whenever Sosa appeared in the northeastern U.S., filmmaker Soren Sorensen was granted unprecedented access to Sosa and his bandmates for interviews, rehearsals, and performances. Omar Sosa’s Eighty-Eight Well-Tuned Drums includes glimpses of the globetrotting artist in duo with celebrated Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, with the Afri-Lectric Sextet, and with his latest band, the New AfroCuban Quartet in storied venues including New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club.
Sosa’s New AfroCuban Quartet features fellow Camagüey natives Leandro Saint-Hill on alto saxophone and flute and Ernesto Simpson on drums and bassist Childo Tomas who hails from Maputo, Mozambique. Perhaps most thrilling for fans will be the full-circle nature of Sosa’s forthcoming ilę, which is poised to reunite Sosa’s music with his Cuban roots.
"I give this film my highest praise. I want people to see it to understand the deep thinking that went into the tough decision made by most veterans to serve in that lengthy and controversial military engagement—now remembered as the Vietnam War.
"Many veterans paid a high price. The tribute to the fallen is breathtaking."
"My Father's Vietnam" is a powerful and gripping story—a worthy testament to complex lives and impossible choices made by young people coming of age while the world was in flames. These accidental heroes—soldiers, resisters, the women who waited and worried—emerge as fully human beings thrust into situations not of their making, struggling to make sense and create meaning out of chaos. This is a dazzling documentary and a necessary addition to the chronicle of the Viet Nam years."
Peter Sorensen snapped this photograph of a heavily damaged church from the back of a truck traveling north on QL1 (Highway 1) to a forward fire support base in the fall of 1969 in South Vietnam. "I remember being struck," Sorensen recalls, "by the irony of a church being caught in the crossfire of two warring armies." Peter and his wife Elizabeth Sorensen, mother of filmmaker Soren Sorensen, later used an image of this church a Christmas card in 1971 with the caption, "Peace on Earth."
Having begun his tour as a combat engineer in the fall of 1969, Peter Sorensen was reassigned to the U.S. Army's 31st Public Information Office in the spring of 1970. "I was taking pictures on and around forward fire support base Bronco where I was stationed when I encountered this infantryman, or 'grunt,'" Sorensen says. "You can see that he has two or three other envelopes in his pocket, so he had clearly been at it a while, catching up on letter-writing to family and friends." He adds, "I was moved by his intensity, and the solemnity and serenity of the scene."
Peter Sorensen, one of the film's subjects and father of filmmaker Soren Sorensen, leaning against a five-ton dump truck and smiling after the safe conclusion of a two-mile mine sweep during the fall of 1969 in South Vietnam. Sorensen remembers, "You can tell it's early in my tour because my uniform hasn't faded, I'm not sunburned, and my mustache hasn't grown in yet."
Peter Sorensen took this photograph at the end of his tour in October of 1970 while standing in line with a group of Americal soldiers awaiting processing for return to the United States. "I was on my way home," Sorensen remembers. "The guys leaning on the railing in the background are leaving either later that day or the next day, and looking on enviously. I don't remember much of anything about this other than the fact that I was going home."
Calm Frenzy: One Man's Vietnam War, a collection of Loring Bailey's Vietnam-era letters, AVAILABLE NOW at CalmFrenzy.com.
Harvesting Rhode Island
Harvesting Rhode Island is a 5-part series that raises public awareness of local farming and the farm-to-table cycle through folk life studies, and by interpreting how this significant way of life on the farm will manage to survive.
Episodes will air two at a time in the ongoing series, Rhode Island Stories, Sundays at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. beginning March 22, 2015.
The series explores how traditional systems can be creatively maintained and become more of a dynamic marketplace. Introducing the public to the farmers of Rhode Island will provide insights into the complex but easily taken-for-granted process behind the edibles we consume.
Growers have had to balance the traditional approaches that were handed down to them with the variable realities of today’s business climate. In the latter part of the twentieth century local wholesale markets began to shrink due to large retailers and national distribution systems.
As a result, growers increased their direct marketing through on-site retail stands, pick-your-own programs, farmers markets, and selling through local retailers. This direct approach has, in turn, stimulated diversification to satisfy the eclectic tastes of increasingly sophisticated consumers. A large number of consumers in Rhode Island are unaware of the locations and variety of crops that are grown in the state and where to purchase them.
Harvesting Rhode Island seeks to change that by bringing viewers on location to see the farms, meet the farmers and listen to the farmers' stories.
One in seven new mothers will experience postpartum depression within a year of giving birth. Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness is a documentary film that seeks to demystify the most common complication of childbirth.
“Raise the Curtain sheds light in a moving and creative way on a problem that afflicts a staggering number of women who suffer in silence with this misunderstood disorder,” said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. “We’re pleased to air this film. This is an example of our commitment to air more local programming that is relevant to our audience, and to work with the community to spark conversations and bring attention to important issues such as mental health and wellness.”
Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness features compelling stories of Rhode Island families who have experienced postpartum depression firsthand.
“The symptoms and stigma related to postpartum depression are, I think, largely unknown to most of us,” said filmmaker Soren Sorensen. “Like many devastating life experiences, postpartum depression is essentially ignored until families are ambushed by it. Postpartum depression, while very treatable, carries with it shame and isolation capable of rendering new mothers unwilling or unable to ask for help, and during a time they expected to be filled only with rapturous joy.”
Families First Rhode Island works to end that shame and isolation by promoting the secure and nurturing parent-child relationships that are the foundation of every child’s overall well-being and future success. Families First conducts Moms For Moms, a program to help mothers who are pregnant or recently had a baby. Jamie Puleo, executive director of Families First Rhode Island, observed that some of these mothers could be at risk for or may be suffering from postpartum depression.
“Our Moms for Moms program offers peer mentoring, support, and friendship through weekly visits from well-trained volunteers or ‘Mentor Moms,’” she said. Ms. Puleo explained that volunteers are given extensive training and supervision in supporting women dealing with pregnancy and postpartum adjustment issues, including maternal depression.
“As you will see, Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness follows the story of four mothers in our program. We hope that hearing their stories will encourage women to feel comfortable seeking help, whether they are depressed or feeling isolated or anxious with the changes that can occur when a new child is brought into the family,” Ms. Puleo said.
“The fact that Families First RI can offer mentorship and support to these mothers and so many more, at no cost, is astonishing,” said Mr. Sorensen.
Raise the Curtain [2015 FEATURE FILM - 48 minutes]
Raise the Curtain [2014 RIPBS TEASER]
Behind the Ribbon
Behind the Ribbon is the title of an original nonfiction television series made possible by the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. Each episode features stories of patients, survivors, and those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, an illness that will affect one in six Rhode Island women.
The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation's mission is to raise breast cancer awareness, increase breast health education, enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends, and generate funding for local breast health programs.
Behind the Ribbon takes viewers "behind the scenes" for a chance to see a small, locally-focused non-profit at work and the crucial support it provides to Rhode Islanders all over the state. Behind the Ribbon is an opportunity for a new audience to get to know the Foundation. The program will also feature information about Foundation-sponsored programming and events and encourage volunteerism and community service.
Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? is an animated short based on the book of the same name by author and nutritional consultant, Joy Feldman.
In a world that super-sizes everything, the Blossoms do things differently. Young Matt and Maddie Blossom aren’t allowed to eat donuts or any of the other chemical confections kids currently crave.
Matt and Maddie are tired of feeling different from their classmates so Mom allows them to indulge in all the donuts and delicacies they can eat from the supermarket’s forbidden zone.
Soon after, they embark on a whimsical adventure in the form of a shared dream. Their surroundings—and hairdos—undergo a colorful metamorphosis that causes them to rethink their former fondness for fatty foods.
This animated film project was made possible by The Picture of Children’s Health, a non-profit dedicated to educating and empowering children to make lifelong healthy lifestyle choices and achieve optimal health.
DVD includes four healthy cooking demonstrations for kids and their parents! Learn how to make Strawberry-Watermelon Granita here!