The time has come. I’ll be graduating from Columbia with an MFA in Film/Video with a Documentary Concentration. My thesis film Famiilia Bom Brill, about my relationship to Diana and her relationship to her mother, will be part of the Thesis Screening on Friday, December 2 at 5:30 PM on the 8th floor of 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL. Here’s a poster/flier if you want to print it out and hang it up around the office. Poster!
Family issues and environmental battles in remote places appear to be what tie this selection of films together. Three others will be screening as part of the showcase including Heavenly Father (bottom right) a narrative by Patrick Rosson, and two other documentaries:
Preserves (top right) by my mentor, B.A.Rich is a poetic journey into one of the most biodiverse places on earth that unfortunately holds a billion barrels of oil. I haven’t seen much of B’s work but he’s very insightful and I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the screen from what looks like a beautiful ecosystem.
Rehab for Squirrels (bottom left) by Viva Docster, Tristan Steinfeld Hanson explores the tough love and brutal pragmatism of wildlife rehabilitation in a remote intake center in Southern Oregon. It’s part of a larger scale project that Tristan will continue to work on after the screening.
After 11 semesters at CCC, I’m finally ready to leave. I made friends and colleagues that will be there for me like I’ll be for them through the years. Many of them are leaving Chicago but I guess that just makes our net that much larger. I’m proud to have been part of ongoing institutions like Viva Documentary and The Michael Rabiger Center for Documentary and the legacy that they hold here. The professors that I had along the way all taught me lessons that I’ll carry with me whether I wanted to hear them at the time or not. It truly took a village to get me through this gauntlet and I’m grateful to everyone that helped me and believed in me along the way.
No one believed in me more than my family. They must have thought I was crazy to stay in school for so long and it must have been hell for them when I started making films about the family but they put up with all of it. This year, I’m proud to say that our family will be graduating Blake Steven Tatgenhorst from Jr. High, Christian Daniel Kozlowski from High School, Luz Aurora Tatgenhorst from Undergrad and myself from Graduate School. Every parent dreams of giving their children a quality education and this year my parents will reap the rewards of decades of hard work. Hooray for Contreras 2011!
This quickly turned into some kind of thank you speech so I need to finish this right. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my wife, Diana Gabriel. If muses exist, she is surely mine. Sitting by while I made this film couldn’t have been easy but she never tried to sway the direction or block a train of thought. She was an open book to me even though I’d go months without talking about my film with her. At one point she even forced me to to interview her when I was stuck in a rut. This wasn’t an easy process but she did everything that she could to ease the pain and put her full trust in me. I’m a very lucky man.
On Friday, December 2, 2011, come see the story of how our relationship developed and some barriers that we had to overcome to be together.