Raised in Morocco, France, and a smattering of states across America, Souki Mehdaoui is a director, writer, and cinematographer now based in Denver, CO. Mehdaoui was introduced to NY artist Firelei Báez by nonprofit organisation Art 21 and the pair decided to make a film that featured original choreography inspired by Báez's paintings. Like the shapeshifting figures in her work this film is a portrait of an artist in creative transition and constant motion. The camera captures the artist from her studio, the surrounding Bronx neighborhood, and her glass mosaic commission at 163rd Street-Amsterdam Avenue subway station, Manhattan.
Raised on the border of Dominican Republic and Haiti, Báez creates a series of paintings that draw upon the rich folklore and colonial history of the Caribbean. Detailed and vibrantly colored, Báez’s shapeshifting figures assert the power of the female form and challenge fundamental ideas around beauty and agency. One example is the artist's reference of the ciguapa, from Domincan folklore, typically described as an evasive and cunning female figure. But Báez regards and frames the "ciguapa" as a beacon for a "highly independent, self-possessed" woman.
Mehdaoui, 'Art21 invited me to make a short film about Dominican artist Firelei Baez, and after one conversation, I fell in love with her ability to alchemize the pain of racialized narratives into transformative creativity and flip traditional power narratives on their head. Firelei's approach to her craft inspired me to look at my own ethnic narratives more critically and creatively, and I just wanted the world to meet this incredible woman from her point of view, seeing history as a palimpsest and symbols as a doorway to conscience.'
Director, Producer, Editor @itsasouki
Series Producer @nickyravich
1st AC / Film Loader @rachelfedorkova @mars_the_supervillian
Costume Designer @meiravi
Location sound @simplyredpath
Key PA @jo_barba
Production Support @ataria.pictures
Dancers @maleek_washington @acastrodance
Composers @voxviola @browniebonbon77
Music Licensing @erasedtapesrecords
Sound Mix @noiagisela
Film Supply @kodak
Film Process and Scan @metpostny
Camera Supply @duallcamera