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Grandma Has a Video Camera

Grandma Has a Video Camera is a documentary about the use of home video by a family of Brazilian immigrants, chronicling their lives in the United States for over 20 years. From enchantment to disillusionment, from idealization to conformity, first-hand images and voices depict how recently arriving immigrants see their new world, and struggle to settle down in their adopted homeland.

The United States has been described as a "melting pot," a land where immigrants from diverse lands blend into something we call Americans. But this is changing. Immigrants today tend to hold on to their past and their original homelands, they resist assimilation in order to live a life that offers the best of both worlds. Children are encouraged to become Americans, but they are also taught to remain faithful to their roots.

Modern technology, from jet aircraft and the telephone to the Internet and cable television, has helped to shorten the distance between one's country of origin and the new land. And for grandma Elda, the video camera does that job just as well. For her, videotape is a substitute for family albums, TV entertainment, and writing letters to those back home. She has kept family ties strong by sending videotapes to those still in Brazil.

Grandma Has a Video Camera explores the parallel stories of the family's immigration, and how the video camera registers their lives. These video diaries examine issues of identity, social dynamics within immigrant families and their community, the conditions of transnationality and the conflicts of loyalty to a single country.

The Lalau-Cypriano family represents the different generations and different faces of immigration: those who never learn English, living solely within their immigrant community, as well as those who try to assimilate into their new culture. Some are born on American soil and struggle to fit their parents' culture into the society in which they live. They live here with one foot in each country, or move back and forth as they can't commit to one home. Some have dual citizenship. Others have lived here for 25 years and still hold a green card.

A first trip to see snow, a tour to a supersized supermarket, or a video letter showing the latest motorcycle offers an intimate portrayal of the uncensored, the honest, and the amazed. What has emerged from 13 years of videotaping is an incredible portrait of people overcoming barriers -- their desires, their loneliness, and their fears -- to make a dream come true.

To order a copy of Grandma Has a Video Camera write:
Viva! Pictures / Backlands Cinema
37 King Street #6A
New York, NY 10014
Tel. (212) 604 9158

[Original air date: Sun, Sep 09, 2007]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

Tânia Cypriano

Read more about Tânia Cypriano, director/producer of Grandma Has a Video Camera.


Grandma Has a Video Camera: Crew & Credits

Tânia Cypriano (Producer and Director)
Tânia Cypriano has been creating media in the United States and her native Brazil for over 15 years. Her films and videos have been screened internationally at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Jerusalem Film Festival, the Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, Rock in Rio and the Berlin International Film Festival, and won Best Documentary at the Joseph Papp's Festival Latino in New York, the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Festival do Cinema de Gramado in Brazil. Cypriano's television credits include documentaries for PBS, the History Channel, NHK in Japan, GNT in Brazil and Channel 4 in England, and she has been awarded grants by the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Soros Documentary Fund, The Ford Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the National Latino Communication Center. Recently she worked as Line Producer on Lady by the Sea, a one-hour documentary about the Statue of Liberty, written and directed by Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones, as well as working on Premiere Brazil! at NY's MoMA, a showcase of contemporary Brazilian cinema curated by Ilda Santiago and Jytte Jensen.

Mary Patierno (Co-Editor)
Mary Patierno is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose most recent film, Vieques: Worth Every Bit of Struggle, won Best Documentary at the New Vision Award (2005) from New Screen TV. Her previous work, The Most Unknowable Thing, was selected as part of the New Documentaries series (2000) at New York's Museum of Modern Art, nominated for the International Documentary Association (IDA) Achievement Award, and won Outstanding Documentary Feature at Outfest'99 in Los Angeles. She is a co-founder of DYKE TV, the first national cable television program produced by and for lesbians. Her award-winning films, Rove, Sodom by the Sea, Alice and Lena, and Dykes Rule have screened in festivals throughout the United States and Europe. She was a 1989 and 2002 recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts and co-produced/curated the WOW (Women One World) Women's Film and Video Festival in NYC from 1988-1994. Patierno is currently an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.

Leslie Clark (Writer)
Leslie Clark is an award-winning producer, director and writer with over thirty years of experience in television production. Most recently she produced [with Catherine Tatge] Walter Cronkite: Witness to History for American Masters. While working for Bill Moyers, she produced The Prime Time President, Leading Questions [winner of a Peabody award], Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis [winner of a National Emmy and a Peabody Award] and environmental stories from South Africa and Brazil for Earth on Edge. She was also one of the producer/writers on America in the Forties for PBS, and Emerging Markets: Mexico for Wall Street Journal Television, among many others. Her writing credits include The Question of God, Breaking the Silence: Women Speak Out on Domestic Violence and Islam vs. Islam, all for PBS. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker magazine.

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