Art of the Documentary: In Conversation with Producer Federico Guarascio

“I have always conceived artistic forms as a single interchangeable expression. So obviously on a conceptual level, there is no contradiction between cinema and art. Quite another story on a practical level: the contemporary art market is a niche for a few cultured groups of people while cinema is considered a more popular art.”

– Federico Guarascio

Artist and film producer Federico Guarascio is no stranger to storytelling. His work on film titles such as Only Solomon Lee, Godka Cirka and El Cuarto Reino (The Fourth Kingdom,) have helped to establish his legacy as a visionary film producer and artist whose oeuvre centers around establishing a tone melding philosophical observation with everyday life. Transcendent yet grounded, Guarascio’s vision has cemented his status as part of an award-winning team – El Cuarto Reino (The Fourth Kingdom) won accolades at both the Big Sky Film Festival and the Brooklyn Film Festival making it a competitor in the 90th Academy Awards.

Guarascio is a member of a burgeoning yet tight-knit community of independent filmmakers whose work exudes depth and mystery while still building an empathetic connection between the viewer and the film’s protagonists. An artist who produces work with renowned contemporary multidisciplinary artists such as Ventiko, Guarascio straddles two worlds – fine art and filmmaking – and explores their common ground as well the liminal space that forms the connective tissue between these disparate worlds.

When creating his short art films, Guarascio has plunged into the eerie settings of sites such as abandoned theme parks and the psychological tableaux of performing artists’ scenarios. Guarascio’s film “Manananggal” – created in tandem with performing artist and photographer, Ventiko – explores the stillness of abandonment and individual creativity. “I have always conceived artistic forms as a single interchangeable expression,” observes Guarascio, “so obviously on a conceptual level, there is no contradiction between cinema and art… using cinema as a means of projecting [an] artistic message to a wide spectrum of audiences [is] always [in my thoughts.]” Reflecting on his artistic process in creating “Manananggal,” the filmmaker notes, “Together we created a performative video installation of incredible visual power and formal interest, [and] truly achieved the goal of breaking down the barriers [between] different artistic genres, [resulting] in an unforgettable sensory experience.”

Guarascio extends this exuberance the sensorial across his documentary projects, partnering with film crews across the US and Europe to reveal female empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa, perils faced by immigrant families at the US-Mexico border, and the reality of recycling redemption centers. Through embracing both the artistic and the every day, his practice fuses poetry with prose. Guarascio’s work injects a much-needed lyrical approach into modern documentary filmmaking and expanding the genre for those seeking wonder on the screen.

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Audra Lambert

Audra Lambert is an arts writer and independent curator who has worked on interdisciplinary projects involving painting, performance, new media and installation art. Her recent curatorial projects have included The Subtle Image group figurative exhibit at Dejavu Gallery, Reflecting Our City for the White Roof Project at the Center for Social Innovation, and participating in the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ A Wicked Problem. In addition to these projects she has served as Project Coordinator for More Art, a socially engaged nonprofit based in NYC, and she has contributed to Art Nerd, Examiner, AXS, and WhiteHot Magazine, among others. With an anticipated 2016 M.A. in Art History, Modern & Contemporary Art from CCNY, her primary focus is on installation art and contemporary art in the public sphere.

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