"The Candle" | A Short Documentary Film by Dan Perez

***OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Indie Boots Film Festival [Chicago]***

***OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 No Budget Film Festival [Los Angeles]***

"The Candle" is a short documentary film I produced in New York in the summer of 2013 that introduces you to Marthalicia Matarrita, a Dominican/Costa Rican artist raised in New York City with her two brothers, Tomas (older) and Jorge (younger). Encouraged by her mother, Marthalicia and her brothers realized a passion for art at a very young age.

The New York City graffiti scene and comic books served as the inspiration for their earliest drawings. As she got older, Marthalicia entered LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in New York City but after graduating found herself without the financial means to enroll in college. Undaunted, she enlisted in the Army National Guard to get the funds needed to pursue a B.A. in Fine Arts at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz. And in 2008 she formed M-Squared Art Productions with her two brothers, an art collective grounded in the four elements of hip-hop and specializing in live painting.

Marthalicia Matarrita

I came across Marthalicia during an internet search for Bronx street artists this past summer. My younger brother Ruben and I were in the process of creating a video series on street artists and I was looking to feature someone from my old stomping grounds of the Bronx. I found her art style, a fusion of nature and the harsh realities of inner city life, fresh and appealing but after reaching out to her by phone, I found the story of her and her brothers even more appealing.

Marthalicia Matarrita

I met (and shot) her for the first time as she was working on a mural project at the Tinton Avenue projects in the Bronx. I was then able to arrange an interview with her and her brothers Tomas and Jorge for later that evening. When my brother and I arrived for the shoot, we entered a sweltering tenement basement used by Marthalicia and her brothers as an art studio. What followed was a series of interviews where the many hardships this family had to endure came to light. Financial hardships had stripped the family of resources most of us take for granted; the family of five found themselves in a small one-bedroom apartment and then a homeless shelter. Their passion for art, however, provided an escape - even when the electricity went out.

Marthalicia Matarrita

During the shoot, I also came to learn that it had been several years since the family had actually come together to paint. Watching them work the canvas together with their own distinct styles over several hours of what turned out to be a long steamy night, I couldn't help but feel I was part of a special moment for this family; I think they felt it as well. And as I put this short film together in my own studio back home in South Florida, I felt all the more fortunate to have spent the evening with a family that had overcome so much...

And I learned that art has a power to give joy in even the harshest of environments. It was a good lesson.

Marthalicia Matarrita

The film is making a modest film festival run and will be featured here near the end of 2015...


Wrapping up our video shoot sometime after 1:00am...

Dan Perez Films

Dan Perez Films

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