An annual prize given to a U.S.-based Latin American or Latino documentary filmmaker

About the Roberto Guerra Award

Kathy Brew, Roberto Guerra’s long-time collaborator and wife established the Roberto Guerra Documentary Fund in 2015 to honor Roberto Guerra’s life and legacy in the field. Originally from Peru, Guerra came to New York as a young, aspiring filmmaker to meet the cinema verité pioneers. He was inspired to create a number of films while living in New York and Europe. He continued to shoot and produce through the last year of his life.

Kathy and UnionDocs as a fiscal sponsor have come together to honor the memory of Roberto by supporting and encouraging an emerging filmmaker in the creation of his or her documentary work. In the spirit of Roberto Guerra’s intuitive and sensitive eye, the Award aims to recognize a Latin American or US-Latino artist who is developing his or her own vision through innovative documentary art and at the same time responds to the issues of our times.

Experts in the field of documentary art will choose the recipient from a pool of nominees. UnionDocs serves as the non-profit administrator of the fund and hosts an award event for each year’s recipient.

Interested in making a contribution to the Roberto Guerra Documentary Fund?

The Roberto Guerra Documentary Award Recipients

2016 Winner: Jerónimo Rodríguez, The Veteran of Tinian

In his first film, The  Monument Hunter, the search for a lost statue is a device that allowed Rodriguez to employ many coexisting film genres to examine his personal history and Chile’s recent past.  The Monument Hunter ended up on several year-end lists of the Best Unreleased Films of 2015, and Filmmaker Magazine recently named Rodríguez among the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

2015 Winner: Cecilia Aldarondo, Memories of a Penitent Heart

Cecilia Aldarondo holds an M.A. from Goldsmiths College and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Her personal documentary MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a co-production of Independent Television Service (ITVS) and Latino Public Broadcasting. The film has received additional support from the MacDowell Colony, the Sundance Institute, Jerome Foundation, Firelight Media, and New York State Council on the Arts, among others. In 2015 MEMORIES was selected for IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs as well as Sundance Institute’s Edit and Story Lab, and was the winner of the 2015 Paley DocPitch. Aldarondo is Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Skidmore College, was the inaugural recipient of the Roberto Guerra Documentary Award in 2015, and has been named by FILMMAKER Magazine as one of 2015’s ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film.’

About Roberto Guerra

Roberto Guerra, an international documentary filmmaker, died on Friday, January 10th, 2014 after a six-month valiant fight against pancreatic cancer at Haven Hospice at Bellevue Hospital in NYC with his wife, Kathy Brew, by his side, who was with him throughout the entire ordeal.

Guerra was born in Lima, Peru on May 22nd, 1942 and graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, Lima, with a degree in engineering. Subsequently he turned his attention to film, initially producing and directing in Peru.

In the late 60s, on his first trip to NYC to purchase film equipment, Guerra met Albert Maysles and through him and his brother, David, he met the other cinema verité pioneers — Ricky Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker, and Robert Drew. He initially worked with the Maysles, filming on some of their projects. Soon thereafter, he met Eila Hershon, who became his collaborator and life partner for the next 25 years. They made many films, including portraits of artists and international personalities in the worlds of fashion and design. Guerra and Hershon married in 1991; Eila Hershon died of cancer in 1993.

Guerra did his own camerawork and editing for all his films. His intuitive, sensitive eye and unique style and spontaneous grace imbues each film with a sense of involvement and intimacy with the subjects. 

Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra met in 1996 and soon began to work together on arts and social issue documentaries  with a particular focus on representing the vision and contributions of creative people to larger audiences. Together they were interested in the interface between art and reality, and in how artists respond to issues of our times.  Their most recent film, DESIGN IS ONE: LELLA & MASSIMO VIGNELLI began its US theatrical release at the IFC Film Center in New York City in October 2013 with a favorable NY Times review and is in distribution worldwide. For a preview trailer and more information on the film visit: www.designisonefilm.com

There are still several films in different phases of completion that Brew will complete since Guerra passed away in January 2014.

The project being completed this coming year is DOUBLE TAKE: THE ART OF SEWARD JOHNSON– a portrait of the artist as a humanist and humorist, whose work has incredible popular response in spite of much critique and dismissal from the “art world.” The film explores philosophical issues around notions of elitism and populism, and questions who and what determines what is considered art.

You can view two short works created by Guerra & Brew emanating from Peru at the links below:

BEAUTY BEHIND BARS

A women’s prison in Peru holds a beauty pageant where inmates, mostly foreigners arrested for attempted drug smuggling, compete for the title Miss Primavera. We hear the personal stories of the contestants: their mistakes, their dreams, their survival, their preparation for Miss Primavera. Why the women are there is the backdrop of the story — as collateral damage in the international war on drugs.

EL OJO QUE LLORA

Artists Lika Mutal and Gam Klutier — both born in Holland — have lived in Peru for so long that they could be considered “Peruvian. ” This documentary will weave many strands — immigrants from Holland to Peru finding inspiration in nature and ancient cultures, but also with the people and their recent history, including the years of terrorism., expressing these influences in their art.

Learn more about Roberto Guerra