Media and society major Rosemary Colon-Martinez ’21 has taken home an award from the Tribeca Film Festival for her short film Ocean’s View.
Tribeca’s “Our City, My Story” contest celebrates outstanding short films about New York City, as created by filmmakers under the age of 21. Ocean’s View, which won the award for best short narrative film, tells the story of a young Black man who is arrested, along with a white friend, on a marijuana charge and is subsequently sent to jail.
“When he gets out, he expects to find a world similar to the one he grew up in, but now what he was sent to jail for is no longer criminalized,” explains Colon-Martinez. Ocean reunites with his white friend, who now makes a living selling marijuana legally. “Our film reviews the hypocrisy of that, how the world changes and leaves Black people behind.”
To watch Ocean’s View, click here.
Colon-Martinez became involved in the project when, after completing a video documentary that included some of her animation work, she was encouraged by Associate Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies and Media and Society Marilyn Jimenez and former Visiting Professor of Media and Society Lina Žigelytė to look into the Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) in Manhattan. Founded in 1972, DCTV is a community media center that provides free or low-cost production courses and trains students in media arts.
Brooklyn native Colon-Martinez was accepted into a four-week college-level program at DCTV in the summer of 2019, where she worked with seven other students and recent college graduates as well as director Jamal Hodge, who served as a mentor to the group.
Asked to create a film about current events and working with the general theme of the inequalities in the criminal justice system, Colon-Martinez came up with the idea for Ocean’s View and “how ironic it is that there are now legal drug shops while millions of Black men are in jail on marijuana charges and they haven’t gotten any justice.”
Colon-Martinez wrote the script for Ocean’s View, which the group edited, and created the storyboard for the film. Each member of the group had the opportunity to direct a scene. A studio art minor, Colon-Martinez also contributed an animation sequence to the film. After debuting at a DCTV film festival, the film was submitted to numerous festivals and contests, including the Tribeca Film Festival.
Along with Professors Jimenez and Žigelytė, Colon-Martinez credits Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Amy Howard Green with helping her to achieve her success. “I had a lot of insecurities when it came to my writing and she gave me a lot of confidence — that helped to propel to me to where I am today.”
Colon-Martinez is working on a second film with DCTV this summer about performative activism and people who take advantage of current racial unrest to make themselves look better and gain social power. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the project is completely virtual.
Along with working on the script and developing animations for the film, Colon-Martinez is taking on another role this summer: actor. She stars as the film’s main character. Team members and their mentor watch and direct her via Zoom while she performs in her room on the HWS campus.
Colon-Martinez, who hopes to one day own a film production or animation company, notes that learning to communicate with the crew and her coworkers last year gave her the skills and experience she needed to complete a virtual film this year. “It was hard working with a group of people at first, but as a filmmaker going into the industry, if I never learned that lesson at that point, I don’t think I’d be where I am now,” she says.