To the Mapuche people of the Andes, “ayelén” means the moment when two people share a smile. Born in Toronto, Canada to Chilean political refugees, I am nomadic by nature. Movement is my first language and through it I have come to find my way and my self in this world. My curiosity and passion for the place where movement and film collide is the driving force of my creative expression. I am continually investigating the possibilities and potentials for filming movement and probing the edges of experience through my moving camera.
When I was 12-years-old, I went to Havana, Cuba on my own to study dance intensively and was instantly infected by the passion of its people and artists. This spark lead to a dance career working with artists such as Louis Falco, Ballet Jörgen, Gabrielle Roth, Noemie Lafrance, Wes Veldink, Corpus and Cirque du Soleil special events. In 2001, I moved to New York City and began creating my own dance theater work best described as multi-dimensional cinematic experiences often occurring in site-specific spaces and provoking ideas of ancestry, identity and improvisation. The work was marked by collaborations with composer/cellist Rubin Kodheli, choreographer/director Harry Mavromichalis and the company Dance Anonymous and was defined by physically charged choreography and surreal visual aesthetics.
In 2005, my obsession with the moving image lead me to film, and with my sister Naya Guzman I directed my first short film FALLING (2006; 5min), part one in a tetralogy about humanity’s increasing disconnect with nature. The sequel BECOMING (2009; 8min), was co-directed with my creative partner Joseph Johnson Camí and was supported by Bravo!FACT. More rewarding than the “best film” awards we’ve received on the festival circuit has been the sincerity (and humour) in the hundreds of comments from over 65,000 viewers since we launched it online.
Upon meeting Joseph and founding Wandering Eye Productions I jumped at the chance to produce the feature documentary A GRAIN OF SAND (2008; 82min), which fought for and won the battle to save Brendan Grimshaw’s famed Moyenne Island in Seychelles. That journey taught me about the power of film as a tool for change and social justice and sparked a deep passion for documentary. My first shot at directing a documentary was KEEPERS OF THE WATER (2010; 4min), a story of a group of native children from Fort Chipewyan who protest the toxic waste from the Alberta Oil Sands industry because it’s killing their community. Although nominated for the Toronto International Film Festival’s RBC Emerging Filmmaker Award in 2010, the film was my own form of protest against corporations such as RBC, the main financier of the Alberta Tar Sands, who use cultural platforms to greenwash their own public image.
Tales from the G20