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Al Santana

Alfred J. Santana is an independent filmmaker whose primary work is social issue films. Over the past thirty years he has directed eight independent films and photographed over thirty documentaries, public affairs promotional films and videos that have aired on both network and public television.

Al began his professional career in 1977 as staff cinematographer at New Jersey Public Television where he shot a variety of public affairs shows and documentaries, including Listen to The Sun, a special on famed recording artist and song stylist Sarah Vaughan and Workin or Slavin, a documentary about prison inmate wages.

In 1981 Al Santana joined IATSE Local 644 Motion Picture Photographers Union and received training on two major Hollywood films: Role Over, directed by Alan Pakula and The Cotton Club, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Al also worked on TV shows, commercials and Independent features and shorts. Some of his credits include Born In Flames, 1984, directed by Lizzy Borden; Who Killed Vincent Chin, 1986 Directed by Christine Choy and nominated for an Oscar for best documentary film; Reunion, 1985, a feature pilot directed by Regge Life, starring Denzel Washington; and WABC's Like It Is with Gil Nobel, 1982-3.

The following is a partial listing of Al's independent film work: Reparation Blues, 2007, an experimental short, aired on WGBH Lab, Boston; One People, 2006, a hybrid narrative/documentary film that premiered at the Harlem Stage On Screen Film Festival and screened at BAM Rose Cinemas; Military Option, a documentary short that screened at BAM Rose Cinemas, Anthology Film Archives, N.Y., and The Museum of Modern Art; Journey 1000, 2004, an experimental documentary chronicling Al's 1973 travels to the Peoples Republic Of China.; Durban 400, 2003, a documentary about reparations for the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade which screened at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y., The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and FESPACO in Burkina Faso, WA; In The Spirit of Peace, 2002, a documentary short that aired on PBS Channel 13's Reel New York and Museum of Modern Art; Voices of The Gods premiered at the 1985 Margaret Mead International Film Festival and has shown at festivals around the world including FESPACO, Cinema Du Reel and is housed in the permanent collection of the New York City Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Al Santana holds a Masters in Fine Arts degree in Digital Cinema from National University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Filmmaking from The City University of New YorkÕs CUNY BA program.

Mr. Santana has taught courses in digital cinema at the Digital Film Academy, New York, documentary film production and 16mm camera courses in the Department of Communication Arts at The City College of New York and continues to lectured at Pace University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Pratt Institute and Adelphi University. Al is a member of the Black Documentary Collective, Independent Feature Project and DV Republic.


In the Spirit of Peace
Al Santana
Producer: Third World Newsreel
2001, 8 min., Color, US
After September 11th, religion becomes the vehicle for a community looking for commensurability in the midst of an environment that would rather seek quick answers to a larger problem....

Military Option
Al Santana & Alonzo Speight
Producer: Third World Newsreel
2005, 11 min., Color, US
Women, money and travel. It's still the hook that military recruiters are using on young men, as two students discover at a Queens recruitment office. A look at the military recruitment process thro...

One People
Al Santana
Producer: Laura L. Fowler & Al Santana
2007, 30 min., Color, US
Is everything political? Against the backdrop of a gentrified Harlem community, the story centers on two sisters who have opposite views about social responsibility and the role of artists. Aliyah, a ...

Salty Dog Blues
Al Santana & Denise B Santiago
2012, 52 min., Color/BW, US
SALTY DOG BLUES features a group of men and women of color who served in the United States Merchant Marine from 1937 – 1989. This nine-year project examines their development as a multi-racial and int...

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