Danielle Calle highlights the dissonance between values and actions permeating American society in her documentary short A Day’s Work. Read below for some more thoughts from the Greenville-based filmmaker.
What is your connection to the South?
I moved from Queens, New York to Greenville, South Carolina during middle school. Subtracting my college years in Chicago, I’ve been living in the South, most recently in Louisiana, for most of my adult life.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
During last year’s presidential campaign, I grew interested in other first-gen kids and their experiences dealing with immigrant parents who, like mine, were Donald Trump supporters. Despite having fled unstable economic and political climates in their respective countries, these immigrant parents seem to have found common ground in a bombastic figure such as DT.
And then I came across this article, which basically describes (in the most generic of terms) the DNC’s attempt to ‘capture’ the Latino vote. I think there’s a misconception as to how “Latinos” are supposed to behave when it comes to these matters. It’s also completely off the mark on how intergenerational relationships within Latinx households (or any household) might work. Growing up in Queens, you quickly learn that this can’t be further from the truth. There, you’re exposed to the racism and many differences present in Latin American immigrant communities. I find myself thinking about this a lot: the unifying identity found in labels such as “Latino” or “Hispanic” but also the desire to break free from the inevitable expectations that come with those terms.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to make a film that challenged what it means to be Latinx in the South, starting with my parents and their own political views. Once I started shooting, it became apparent that my initial intent wasn’t going to be so clearly defined. Instead of getting a testimonial about their views, it turned into a small dedication to the very important work of building and teaching that they each bring to their community.
More succinctly: “A Day’s Work” is a quiet ode to my parents as they go about their day, building this country one step at a time. It was created as a record of my parents, Benjamín and Alba, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election. I wanted to create this short documentary to showcase these two unlikely Trump supporters in their own words, but also to appreciate and recognize their journey as Colombian immigrants living in the South.
How did you start making films?
I started making amateur music videos in my early teens with family and whatever equipment I could find. Right before my quinces I learned of this cool music video competition in England, so I asked my parents for a computer instead of a traditional party to get my film completed and submitted. My music video didn’t get in, but in the process I became obsessed with the concept of editing. It was right around this time that I was accepted into the film and video program at the Fine Arts Center, a specialized arts high school in Greenville, where I was able to study filmmaking in a more formal setting.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
Getting to know people through their films. I believe you can get a real sense of someone just by watching a film of their creation. It’s like an umbilical cord into their soul. On top of that, I can’t wait to relate to filmmakers who belong to the Latinx experience. In my short career in film + living in the South, it’s been rare to find a space like this, so I’m most looking forward to being surrounded by creatives who might be dealing with similar struggles and/or thoughts on what it means to be a U.S. Latino.
Why should someone see your film?
I think we’re inhabiting an interesting time where history is no longer being written by the winners. I think more and more, the underdog, the loser, the little guy is getting their chance at longevity, too. If you’re looking to the future, consider watching my film for the simple fact that big changes take shape in the little steps and in the every day.