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Nov 13, 2020 at 10:00 am – Nov 21, 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.

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 filmmaker/animator, Alexa Lim Haas (Agua Viva, Random Acts of Flyness) guiding participants through surrealist gestural exercises, Emmy-winning composer Troy Herion (The Hottest August, Bulletproof) will demonstrate real-time film scoring, director Jonathan Bogarin and Elan Bogarin will talk through the process of the making their award-winning film 306 Hollywood, and director Penny Lane (Hail Satan? and NUTS!) will speak to how “truth” functions in nonfiction, and what rules or lack thereof to follow. Elusive yet simultaneously grounding, filmmaker Mila Turajlić (The Other Side of Everything) will illustrate how one blends the depiction of memories, the pursuit of democratic freedoms, and archival footage into one film. 


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 (not required).

$295 early bird registration by November 9th, 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 November 9th. After November 9th, the fee is non-refundable.

As this is an online workshop, participants must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of November 9th, 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.


Friday, Nov 13, – 10:00a - 3:30p

Intro & Welcome by Elan Bogarín

PM: Presentation and discussion with Elan Bogarín & Jonathan Bogarín

Saturday, Nov 14 – 10:00a - 3:30p

AM: Presentation and discussion with Penny Lane

PM: Presentation and discussion with Alexa Lim Haas

Friday, Nov. 20 – 10:00a - 3:30p

AM: Presentation and discussion with Troy Herion

PM: Participants present and share their work-in-progress

Saturday, Nov. 21 – 10:00a - 3:30p

AM: Presentation and discussion with Mila Turajlić

PM: Participants present and share their work-in-progress

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


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


Exercise with Lead Instructor + individual work-in-progress critique




Presentation and discussion with Guest Instructor




Elan Bogarín is a Venezuelan-American director. Her first 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 70 festivals, won multiple awards including an Emmy, 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.

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.

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.

Troy Herion is an Emmy-winning composer, editor, and producer. He has scored multiple award-winning films including 306 Hollywood, The Hottest August, Bulletproof, Born to Be, The Disrupted, The Dog, and Mountain Fire Personnel, which have premiered at major festivals including Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, HotDocs, Tribeca, MoMA, NYFF, and True/False.

A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Herion is a scholar of visual music (Princeton University PhD fellow). His primary focus is uniting contemporary music with visual arts through film, theater, dance, and concert music. Herion has collaborated extensively with choreographers and theater companies producing works performed at Carnegie Hall, The Academy of Music, and The Annenberg Center among others. Recent commissions include Archiva for The Pennsylvania Ballet and A Period of Animate Existence, for Pig Iron Theatre Co. featuring 100 performers including the Grammy-winning Crossing Choir, and a sentient halal cart.

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 and The New York Times. He also composes music for museums and companies including The Whitney, MoMA, The Getty, Google, and Lego among others.

Penny Lane is an award-winning nonfiction filmmaker who was named one of Filmmaker Magazine‘s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and a Chicken & Egg Breakthrough Award winner. Her most recent feature-length documentary HAIL SATAN? recently debuted at Sundance and will be released by Magnolia Pictures in 2019. Her third feature-length documentary THE PAIN OF OTHERS premiered at Rotterdam 2018, and went on to BAMcinemaFest, Sheffield Doc/Fest, SF DocFest, BAFICI, Sarasota and Maryland Film Festivals. Her second feature-length documentary NUTS! premiered at Sundance 2016, where it won a Special Jury Award for Editing. It has since screened at many other film festivals such as Hot Docs, Full Frame, Ashland, Maryland, Cleveland, Sarasota and BAFICI. Her debut feature-length documentary OUR NIXON premiered at Rotterdam 2013, had its North American premiere at SXSW, won the Ken Burns Award for “Best of the Festival” at Ann Arbor, and was selected as the Closing Night Film at New Directors/New Films. Penny’s short films are distributed by VTAPE and include titles such as THE VOYAGERS (2010), THE COMMONERS (2009) and WE ARE THE LITTLETONS: A TRUE STORY. Her 2005 short THE ABORTION DIARIES has become an important organizing and educational tool across the nation. THE ABORTION DIARIES has screened in at least 42 states & worldwide at over 350 different community venues, ranging from bars to art centers to clinics to colleges, and also on Yes! Television and Free Speech TV. In 2006, Penny was given a Choice USA “Generation Award” for her work on this film. Penny has been awarded grants from the Sundance Institute, Catapult Film Fund, Creative Capital, Cinereach, TFI Documentary Fund, Jerome Foundation, LEF Foundation, NYSCA, Experimental Television Center, IFP and Puffin Foundation. She was named “Most Badass!” at the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival in 2009. She received her MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her BA in American Culture and Media Studies at Vassar College. She has taught film, video and new media art at Colgate University, Bard College, Hampshire College and Williams College.

Mila Turajlić is a documentary filmmaker and archive scholar born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Her films have screened at numerous festivals including Toronto and Tribeca, and have been released theatrically in Europe, North America and across the former Yugoslavia. Her most recent film THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING (2017) was HBO Europe’s first co-production with Serbia. It won 32 awards including the IDFA Award for Best Documentary Film, the Grand Prix for Best historical documentary released in France in 2018, and was nominated for the LUX Prize the European Parliament. Mila’s debut feature doc, CINEMA KOMUNISTO (2011) played at over 100 festivals and won 16 awards including the Gold Hugo and the FOCAL Award for Creative Use of Archival Footage. In her work with archives, Mila researches the intersection of personal and national memories, seeking to reactivate forgotten histories, through forms ranging from lecture performances and video art to analytical essays. In 2018 she was commissioned by MoMA to create a series of archive-based video installations for their landmark exhibition on Yugoslav modernist architecture. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Mila teaches documentary and creative use of archives at SciencesPo and INASup in Paris. She is one of the founders of DokSerbia, and was a producer of The Magnificent 7 Festival in Belgrade since its creation in 2005. In 2020 Mila was invited to join the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was named a Chicken&Egg Award grantee in 2020.

Mila is currently in post-production on her third feature film, The Labudović Reels, an archival road trip through the cinema of African liberation movements of the 50’s and 60’s filmed by Stevan Labudović, the cameraman of Yugoslav President Tito.

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Nov 13, 2020 at 10:00 am
Nov 21, 2020 at 3:30 pm
$285.00 – $295.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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