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Making Magic from the Mundane

Making Magic from the Mundane

RISD grad Jonathan Bogarín 00 PT teams up with his sister to make an extraordinary documentary about their grandmother called 306 Hollywood.

306 Hollywood, an extraordinary documentary about an ordinary life well lived, aired on the PBS show POV earlier this month and is viewable through April 16 via POV online.

Billed as “an archaeological excavation” of their late grandmother’s house in New Jersey, the 94-minute film by siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín 00 PT is full of the magical realism of some of the best Latin American literature and is the first full-length documentary they’ve made together.

Since its premiere at Sundance in 2018 and subsequent screenings that began last fall, 306 Hollywood has been finding a warm reception with critics and audiences around the country. With this month’s POV release, it’s now getting wider exposure and is also streaming on Amazon and available on iTunes.

The Verge calls the film “startling" and adds that “306 Hollywood feels like a whole new way of tackling documentaries.” Roger Ebert’s site proclaims that in terms of how the genre is understood, the film “is bold, if not a landmark.”

As a visual artist and educator, Jonathan creates public projects that “imagine art as a tool for social justice.” His sister Elan is a photographer and cofounder of Wassaic Project, the arts community in New York state run by RISD grads Bowie Barnett-Zunino MFA 09 SC and Jeff Barnett-Winsby MFA 06 PH, with input from many fellow alumni.

In 2006 the Bogaríns began documenting the murals of El Tigre in Venezuela, creating a series of stop-motion animated murals that brought the stories of the city to life. They eventually expanded the project into a feature film called Invisible Murals, which recounts the history of oil through the region’s myths, murals and oral histories.

Together the Bogaríns now run El Tigre Productions in NYC, where they focus on making innovative nonfiction films for major cultural institutions such as the Whitney, MoMA, the Getty, Museo Reina Sofia and PEN America, among others.

In 2017 Filmmaker Magazine named them to its list of top 25 New Faces of Independent Film. In addition, the Bogarín sare the driving force behind coleccioncisneros.org, an online hub for Latin American arts and ideas.

—Liisa Silander

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