Where is She Now?

Chainletter Filmmakers:

The Chain of Love Letter

Stephanie Saint Sanchez, La Llorona
March 28, 2013

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was friends with this really cool older woman. She was the kind of cool older women you wish your Mom was but could never be in front of you. She was a crazy artist activist in the 70’s till she had kids and had to get a straight job. She had a daughter a little younger than me that was a budding performance artist so as a treat she sprung for tickets to see you(Miranda July) perform at Diverseworks a Houston arts venue. After the show she went into full obsession mode as did I. Thats when J4J came up. I was 28.

What interested you about the project?
I thought the idea was very clever. I was excited to see what other women were out there making. Especially the kind of women that would take the chance and share their visions. Also it gave me a rush of nostalgia for the anticipatory waiting for something awesome to come in the mail.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I’ve always wanted to make movies. I came from movie lover parents who took me to see everything, even R rated stuff. I had been making mini epics since I was 12. As a teen and beyond I was always working in video stores or movie theaters. Oddly enough I just never put it as an option for myself as a profession back then. I was still just dicking around going to community college like it was not even my own life. Making movies was my idea of a perfect weekend. Get some likeminded freakazoids or hijack a party writing/casting/filming on the fly.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with the project?
A high school art weirdo with a penchant for Robert Smith from The Cure and Siouxsie Sioux at heart I modeled my La Llorena ghosty make-up on them. I was very satisfied with the results. I loved inventing and creating the characters’ reality and enjoyed every minute.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I was just so excited to get in! It was a much needed validation to kick my ass of the fence and get really going. In retrospect I believed it influenced me not only to pursue cinematic adventures but to have a reverence for sisterly support in the arts.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
I meet my first Mentor the great Carlos Calbillo around this time. He was the video documentarian for a Latino literary organization called Nuestra Palabra. My Mother had read about them in the paper and told me to check it out. That’s also where I met Alice Canestaro-Garcia the cool artist who turned me on to You. Carlos taught a film class at the community center which included watching films by Luis Buñuel and working field trips to film re-enactment battles from Texas history. Carlos was a wealth of knowledge from Texas history proper to first account stories of the hip Houston underground scene from his youth. I think that his reverence for local history as well as my involvement with Nuestra Palabra really put the concept of taking a popular Latino ghost story and turning it on it’s head as a way make a claim to my heritage on my terms.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I have been making short films ever since J4J, dipped into multi-media installations, art cars, VHS furniture, and I also play vinyl under the name DJ Esteff. (lachicanalaundrypictures.com) One of the things I’m most proud of is starting Senorita Cinema (senoritacinema.com) the first all Latina film festival in Texas. I was inspired to do this after I screened La Llorena at a film festival in Los Angeles called BHLIFE The Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza (bhlife.org). It was founded by Josephina Lopez the woman who wrote Real Women have Curves. Being around all the Latina filmmakers was invigorating and as per requirement of an artist residency I received from The Lawndale Art Center (lawndaleartcenter.org) I had to host a workshop/artist talk /presentation and I chose to do a screening. That was our first festival and now we are doing number four with sponsors like The Idea Fund a project of The Andy Warhol Foundation. Lastly, this year I have been hired to direct my first feature, a 3D musical about Anna Nicole Smith.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
It would be great to have a sort of bulletin board for networking with each other.