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Isabel McGinnis, a Mexican-American filmmaker, has been producing award-winning documentaries for PBS for several years. She is one of the co-founders of Café Sisters Productions; an all-woman film and video production company dedicated to bringing a feminist edge to television programming. The Southern Sex, a campy critique of stereotypical notions of womanhood, screened at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City and The American Film Institute in Los Angeles, and has won prizes from the New School in New York, the Atlanta Film Festival, and many others. Mother Love, a documentary examining the complexities of the mother and daughter relationship, continues to air on PBS member stations on Mother’s Day.
Tobacco Blues, an ITVS co-production, was broadcast as part of POV’s 11th season and was screened by President Clinton while en route to Kentucky, aboard Air Force One.
Café Sisters Productions most recent effort is The Girl Next Door, which documents the life of porn star, Stacy Valentine. The Girl Next Door opened for a nationwide theatrical release at New York’s Screening Room. Their website,, has reviews and photos. The Girl Next Door was also shortlisted to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary. McGinnis also helped launch the PBS Web site for independents, “The Indie Scene on PBS: An Eye on the Best Independent Film and Video”. McGinnis’s community outreach includes a project with the students at the Escuela de Inmersión en Español in Lexington. There she taught documentary filmmaking to fourth graders, including her daughter. The students produced a 30 minute documentary, entirely in Spanish, on the food, art (specifically focusing on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera), and music of México. McGinnis was the co-creator of The Beauty Salon, a Super 8mm narrative short that employs philosopher Judith Butler’s concept of performativity to undermined preconceived notions of masculinity. The Beauty Salon recently screened at MOCA in Tucson, Arizona. Beyond the Border/Más Allá de la Frontera, is another ITVS co-production. This documentary traces the painful transition made by four sons in the Ayala family, who leave their parents and sisters in Michoacan, México, and fight cultural, class and language barriers in Kentucky. Kit Kat, has a young girl saving her father’s soul amidst the beauty and magic of Oaxaca, México. Impresario, examines the life of African-American Opera star, Everett McCorvey, as he stages Mozart’s Don Giovanni and brings his spiritual ensemble to Brazil. The Kentucky Theatre, a funky historical documentary, covers eighty years of history, as told by its current employees and fans of the cinema. She recently made a richly textured altar, celebrating her dead relatives, for The Living Arts and Science Center’s Dia de los Muertos. Another project, Juchitán, has its focus on the haunting music, the political and economic power of the women, and the ‘Lady Boys,’ who are the cross-dressing sons, of the families of the Isthmus of Oaxaca, México. McGinnis has a second-degree brown belt in Shotokan Karate (ki-yah!), a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology from San Diego State University, and a certificate in Film and Video Theory and Production from the University College Dublin, in Ireland. McGinnis, with the support of a Fulbright and The Kentucky Foundation for Women, is currently living, writing, and filmmaking in Juchitán, México.


Ari Luis Palos, a Mexican-American filmmaker, started Dos Vatos Productions; a film and video production company dedicated to bringing the voice of Mexicanos to international audiences. Palos’s credits in cross-cultural productions include a documentary, made with Boyd Shearer, on historically-segregated African-American parks in Kentucky. His next project, The Beauty Salon, was a Super8mm short for children and adults. The film explores preconceived notions of masculinity. Palos was also an integral part of the production team of the ITVS funded PBS documentary, Tobacco Blues, serving as Director of Photography of the Second Unit. Another documentary collaboration had Palos shooting digital and 16mm footage for Hill Stomp Hollar, which profiles the music and life of African-American bluesman and Fat Possum Records artist, R.L. Burnside. Hill Stomp Hollar was screened at the 1999 South by Southwest Film Festival, where it was named runner-up for the Best Documentary Feature. Palos also served as Cinematographer on Okie Noodling, named Audience Favorite at the 2001 South by Southwest Film Festival and perennial favorite on PBS. Beyond the Border is airing on PBS to rave reviews throughout the nation. For audience feedback, air dates, and more information please click here. Beyond the Border was awarded the Grand Jury Prize Winner for The Best Documentary Feature at The Great Lakes Film Festival, the Premiere Mesquite Award at Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas, and was featured in Latino Film Festivals in San Diego and San Francisco. Kit Kat, is part soap opera, part legend, part dream. In the tradition of Oaxacan folklore, Kit Kat blurs the line of reality and myth as a young girl races to save her father’s soul. On location in colonial streets, abandoned monasteries, and ancient pyramids, Kit Kat reveals the secret of the Malagueña. Kit Kat has screened at Lexington’s Splitscreen Film Festival, The New York Film Archive, the Cine Cuatemoc in Texas, and the International Film Festival in Quito, Ecuador. Day of the Dead in Teotitlan del Valle witnesses the return of the Zapoteco spirits to the pueblo. The smell of marigolds in the graveyard beckons them to enjoy tamales, mescal, and other sensory favorites of their living life. Impresario, examines the life of African-American Opera star, Everett McCorvey, as he stages Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Impresario was the highlight of the Bluegrass Cinema Film Festival, which Palos organized in Lexington. Palos has just completed The Kentucky Theatre. The film examines, with intimacy and humor, the rebirth of a historic art house cinema and the unconventional people who work there. Additionally, Palos, has spent the last two years, researching Juchitán. This project has its focus on the haunting music, as well as, the political and economic power of the women, of the Isthmus of Oaxaca, México.




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