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May 8, 2020 at 10:00 am – May 16, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Magical Realism: Subverting The Ordinary

Led by Elan Bogarín

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.

Please note:  Due to COVID-19, UnionDocs workshops are being held remotely, over video conference.

We’ve restructured the experience to optimize this format, offering a functional rhythm and pace, while continuing the strong combination of theory, practice, expert feedback and community that participants love.  

**We heard you loud and clear! In response to an overwhelming demand for the Magical Realism April workshop, we are offering a second iteration of the workshop in May! PLEASE NOTE: the guest instructors listed for the May workshop are tentative and subject to change** 

Filmmaker Michael Roemer held true to the belief that  “film at it’s best uses the language of ordinary experience —– but uses it subtly and artfully.” Traditionally documentaries explore that which is “true” or “pure reality.” Formally using a set number of languages that stem from a journalist practice – interview, verite, archival and recreations. As expectations and traditions are challenged, how can media makers expand the language of non-fiction to express a more subjective, picture of the world? What tools are at our disposal to visually articulate these visceral or metaphorical realities?

Seeking to collapse the day-to-day with the wondrous opening concepts beneath the seat of reason – technique of ‘normalized magic,’ as defined by Kate Bernheimer, magical realism delicately marries naturalistic technique with fantasy. The term was made famous by the likes of Latin American authors Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. Today, a robust genre has emerged of work that incorporates otherworldly elements with otherwise realistic worlds with the goal of making the ordinary extraordinary. 

Magical Realism: Transforming The Ordinary into the Extraordinary led by Elan Bogarin (306 Hollywood) will examine the cross section of  filmic and literary practices of this evolving genre. We will collectively discuss how to adapt influences from fiction film, literary non-fiction and art history to find new modes of storytelling. This four day workshop will feature a stellar host of guest instructors, including Elizabeth Rao (Madeline’s Madeline), Sophia Nahli Allison (A Love Song For Latasha), Alexa Lim Haas (Random Acts Of Flyness), Meriem Bennani (Party On The Caps), Cristina Costantini  and Kareem Tabsch (Mucho Mucho Amor). 


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, curators and media artists.

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).

$295 early bird registration by May 4, 2020 at 5PM.

$350 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until May 4th. After May 4th, the fee is non-refundable.

Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers. A stable internet connection is recommended for remote workshops held video conference.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of May 4th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Guest Instructors are subject to change 

Friday, May 8th – 10:00am - 3:30pm

Intro & Welcome by Elan Bogarín

PM: Presentation and discussion with Elan Bogarín

Saturday, May 9th – 10:00am - 3:30pm

AM: Presentation and discussion with Sophia Nahil Allison

PM: Presentation and discussion with Troy Herion

Friday, May 15th – 10:00am - 3:30pm

AM: Presentation and discussion with Alexa Lim Haas

PM: Presentation and discussion with Josephine Decker

Saturday, May 16th – 10:00am - 3:30pm

AM: Presentation and discussion with Elan Bogarín

PM: Presentation and discussion with Cristina Costantini & Kareem Tabsch

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Lunch (on your own)


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique


Participant work-in-progress critique


Wrap up!


Elan Bogarín’s feature 306 Hollywood, premiered on opening night of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival as the first documentary ever included in the festival’s NEXT section. It played over 65 festivals, won multiple awards, was released theatrically through the Sundance Creative Distribution Fellowship, and appeared on PBS’s POV and Amazon Prime. Elan was chosen for Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Film, DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40, and was awarded Emerging International Filmmaker at Hot Docs. Elan co-founded The Wassaic Project and was nominated for the Gotham + Spirit Awards for producing Big Fan which premiered at Sundance. Elan is the co-director of El Tigre Productions where she creates innovative non-fiction films and produces award-winning digital content for the world’s leading museums, platforms, and brands such as Google, MoMA, The Getty, The Whitney, and The New York Times. She has received support from organizations including Sundance, Artemis Rising Foundation, Ford Foundation / Just Films, NYSCA, Latino Public Broadcasting, and IFP.

Sophia Nahli Allison is an experimental documentary filmmaker, photographer and dreamer. She disrupts conventional documentary methods by reimagining the archives and excavating hidden truths. Her work is a meditation of the spirit, exploring the public and private spaces of black women through alternate histories, erased and lost archives, and the metaphysical. Sophia conjures ancestral memories to explore the intersection of fiction and non-fiction storytelling. She is a 2020 United States Artists Fellow in Film and has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France., The Center for Photography at Woodstock, and POV Spark’s African Interactive Art Residency. She is a recipient of a 2014 Chicago 3Arts Award and has received grants from the Sundance Institute New Frontier Lab Programs, Glassbreaker Films, and Getty Images. In 2017 she was named the Student Video Photographer of the Year by the White House News Photographers Association. She has a Master’s Degree in visual communication from UNC. Past projects have been featured on The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Root, with Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA, and more. Her short documentary A Love Song For Latasha premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and received the Grand Jury Documentary Prize at AFI Fest, along with Best Documentary Short awards at the New Orleans Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival, and more including an IDA Documentary Awards Nomination.

Jonathan Bogarín is a filmmaker, teacher, and visual artist. His debut feature, 306 Hollywood, premiered opening night of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival as the first documentary ever included in the festival’s NEXT section. It played over 50 festivals, won multiple awards, was released theatrically through the Sundance Creative Distribution Fellowship, and will appear on POV and Amazon Prime. Jonathan was chosen for Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Film, awarded Emerging International Filmmaker at Hot Docs, and has received support from organizations including Sundance, Artemis Rising Foundation, NYSCA, Latino Public Broadcasting, and IFP. Jonathan is the co-director of El Tigre Productions where he creates innovative non-fiction films and produces digital content for the world’s leading museums, platforms, and brands.

Josephine Decker is a filmmaker and performance artist. As of 2019 she has directed three feature films: the experimental psychological thriller Butter on the Latch (2013), the experimental erotic thriller Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014), and the experimental drama Madeline’s Madeline (2018). She also co-directed the documentary Bi the Way (2008) with Brittany Blockman.

Alexa Lim Haas is an artist and filmmaker from New York City. She was selected by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2017. Her animated shorts, Glove (2016) co-directed with Bernardo Britto, and her first solo short Agua Viva (2018) both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and were awarded with Grand Jury Prizes at SXSW. In addition to screening at film festivals worldwide she has exhibited work at MoMA, BAM, The Brooklyn Museum, The Norton Museum of Art, and in collaboration with Planned Parenthood and the HBO show Random Acts of Flyness. She received her BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Cristina Costantini is an Emmy-nominated director and producer. She is a proud Latina, Wisconsinite, and science fair nerd. … Cristina’s first TV documentary Pimp City, was nominated for two Emmys and her reporting on immigration has won awards from GLAAD and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Kareem Tabsch is the co-founder and co-director of Miami’s largest art house cinema, an Award winning documentary filmmaker and an Arts Advocate who strongly believes in the power of the arts, particularly film, to enrich lives and revitalize communities.As a documentary filmmaker, Kareem’s works has been included in several prestigious film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, True/False, Slamdance, AFI Docs, DocNYC, Rooftop Films,  LA Film Fest where his film won the Best Short Documentary Prize, and Miami Jewish Film Festival where his film won Audience Favorite Documentary among several other festivals.  His films have garnered international press attention from outlets like The New York Times, Comedy Central, Vice, Variety, LA Times, The NY Post, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, Bravo and from celebrities including Andy Cohen, Rush Limbaugh, and Howard Stern.

In 2019, Kareem was named a ‘40 under 40’ filmmaker by DOCNYC, America’s largest documentary film festival.

Troy Herion is a composer and filmmaker whose works unite contemporary music with visual arts through film, theater, dance, and concert music. His versatile compositions range from classical and avant-garde orchestral music to intricate and melodic electronic scores.
For the last decade he has collaborated extensively with filmmakers, choreographers, and theater companies. Recent evening-length works include an orchestral ballet commission from The Pennsylvania Ballet and a multi-movement theater piece with Pig Iron Theatre Co. featuring 100 performers including the Grammy-winning Crossing Choir, and a sentient halal cart.
Recent film scores include award-winning films 306 Hollywood, The Hottest August, The Dog, Mountain Fire Personnel, and You Can Go which have screened at Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, MoMA, and Tribeca Film Festival. He also scores digital content for Google, The Whitney Museum, MoMA, The Getty, The Cisneros Colección and others.
Herion composes and directs visual-music films. Baroque Suite and New York: A City Symphony have been called “marvelous” by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross and were featured on MTV, The New York Times, and performed with orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

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May 8, 2020 at 10:00 am
May 16, 2020 at 3:30 pm
$285.00 – $295.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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