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Film in the Gallery: Short Films by John Jota Leaños

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Event description

Director John Jota Leaños will present a program of his films including the award-winning Ghostly Labor, a dance film uplifting the voices of field workers and celebrating the traditions of music and dance.

“Ghostly Labor: A Dance Film” explores the history of labor in the US–Mexico borderlands through Tap Dance, Mexican Zapateado, Son Jarocho, Afro Caribbean movement, and live music. Co-directed by John Jota Leaños and Vanessa Sanchez, this work brings together polyrhythmic movement and an original score to look at the (ongoing) years of systemic exploitation of labor while highlighting the power and joy of collective resistance.

Based on farmworker interviews in California, this work honors the sacred hands that feed us and was filmed on Avila Garcia Farms with support from Ayudando Latinos a Soñar (ALAS), a non-profit advocacy organization for farmworkers in Half Moon Bay, CA. A full-length dance theater production of Ghostly Labor will premiere in 2023.

John Jota Leaños is an award-winning Mestizo (Xicano/Italian/Chumash) new media artist using animation, documentary, and performance focusing on the convergence of memory, social space, and decolonization. Leaños’ animation work has been shown internationally at festivals and museums including Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Short Film Corner, the Morelia International Film Festival, Mexico, San Francisco International Festival Animation, the KOS Convention 07, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Leaños has also exhibited at the Whitney Biennial in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leaños is a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, Creative Capital Foundation Grantee, a United States Artist Fellow and has been an artist in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Center for Chicano Studies, Carnegie Mellon University in the Center for Arts in Society, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Leaños is currently a Professor of Film & Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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