ABOUT THIS PROJECT
Documented started our WhatsApp newsletter in 2019 as a way to communicate with Spanish-speaking readers through a platform they frequently use to share news and important information. It was a tool to communicate directly and rapidly with immigrant communities who were struggling to make sense of the Trump administration’s changes to immigration law, but it quickly became a hub of information on how to seek out help within New York’s immense bureaucracy.
Then, the pandemic began.
We sent phone numbers and websites for organizations providing economic aid, free food, and support on legal issues out to the community via WhatsApp. Through this direct communication, we simplified the complex bureaucracy of New York State’s rent relief programs and tried to provide answers to the complex questions posed by the precarious situations undocumented New Yorkers found themselves in.
Then, Documented sent out a different kind of message.
We asked people to share personal stories about how the pandemic was affecting them. These dozens of stories inspired the preceding documentary.
Documented is a nonprofit news site devoted to covering New York City’s immigrant communities and the policies that affect their lives. An estimated 3.2 million immigrants—nearly a half million of them undocumented—live in New York City, comprising 37 percent of the City’s population and 44 percent of the workforce. Documented provides original reporting on how these communities are impacted by labor policies, law enforcement practices and directives from local, state and federal governments. We also run Documented Semanal, an award-winning publication that provides valuable information to Spanish-speaking New Yorkers based on their needs through WhatsApp.
Our reporting has been cited in federal lawsuits and human rights campaigns and national media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Our stories caused the divestment of over $7 million in private prison stock and led to an introduction of a law in Canada to create more oversight of government spending. We have won awards from the Online News Association, Local Independent Online News Publishers and EPPY’s.
Waterwell is a group of artists, educators and producers dedicated to telling engrossing stories in unexpected ways that deliberately wrestle with complex civic questions. The company is led by a shared leadership team: two-time Obie Award winning director Lee Sunday Evans - Artistic Director, Adam Frank - Managing Director, and Heather Lanza - Director of Education. The company was co-founded in 2002 by Tom Ridgely and Arian Moayed (Succession), an Iranian-born immigrant, award-winning actor, director, writer and educator who currently serves as Waterwell's Board Chair.
The company's recent projects include The Courtroom: a reenactment of one woman's deportation proceedings, which was named on The New York Times' Best of Theater 2019 list, and The Flores Exhibits (www.flores-exhibits.org
), a series of videos in which artists, lawyers and immigrants read the legal testimonies of children held in immigration detention at the U.S./Mexico border in June 2019. Watch two short videos from The Flores Exhibits here
, and read this piece in Capital & Main
about screenings of these videos around the country in Fall 2020.
Waterwell has been in-residence for over ten years at a NYC Public School, the Professional Performing Arts School, leading world-class conservatory-style theater training for 200+ students from all 5 boroughs, grades 6-12.
Frisly Soberanis is a director and video artist, from Queens, New York via Guatemala. His work explores separation, distance and the immigrant experience.
He has received support from E4FCs Fuse fund, Tribeca Film Institutes New Media Prototype Fund, Culturestrike and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He is one of the OSFs Photo Documentary Fellows and a current Artist in Residence at the Hemispheric Institute (HEMI).
Frisly's work has shown at during encuentro @Centro de Cultura Digital (CCDMX) in Mexico City, during Moving Walls 25, the Hilversum Museum, Tribeca Family Day and Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.
Frisly is interested in how 360 video/ virtual reality / media and technology can challenge borders and reshape the way we think of memories and messages. They grew up filming quinceañeras and bodas, and hope to create more stories of healing and reconnection.