Harlem Focus Docs

Harlem is a stage. Its residents are the stars.


Season 1

Sweet Harlem

Make My Cake a bakery based in Harlem started with Josephine Smith “Ma Smith” baking out of her home, but when the demand became too high she opened her first store front in the neighborhood. The bakery now has two locations and is run by Ma Smith’s daughter, Aliyyah Baylor, who refers to all her costumers as sweeties.

Dance Theatre of Harlem

Use of Color

Dominique Duroseau is a sculpture artist very focused on her view of existentialism, but with a different approach. She believes that human actions and behaviors are not ruled by coincidence (as existentialism claims); rather they originate from afflictions and experience. Her work reveals how she questions aspects of society through her physical manifestation of concepts and emotions—yielding her sculptural work. Her view of the world includes war, socio-economic disparity, and psychological trauma; thus, her work invites viewers to slow down to observe and interpret.

Dark Fashion

Harlem is home to many creatives in the fashion world such as aspiring models, make-up artist, and fashion designers. Adrian Aliciea is a Harlem resident who draws from his surroundings to inspire his career as a fashion designer. He literally uses his two-bedroom apartment and people from the neighborhood to create art. This short documentary entitled “Dark fashion” provides insight into Adrians critique of the fashion industry and his plans to shake it up with his “out of the box” style.

Casa de las Velas

Rosa is behind the counter handling a stream of customers. She exits and enters with herbs or candles. Through a simple consultation of her loyal customers she can quickly advice them on the materials they would need. “El Barrio represents something so beautiful to me. There is something pure and rich about knowing ones traditional culture. I am Latina, from Guatemala but I love being in a place where you meet other Latino’s and learn of their cultural traditions. I don’t want to know about the History of other people just out of pride but I want to know about it because it is a part of their identity. A person can have all the education, and all the success but you are really nothing if you lost your tradition. Here we try to maintain that tradition and our customer’s value and appreciate that. With time there is no telling what will happen to this or any Botanica in El Barrio, many have closed but for now we will continue being the providers for the generations longing to embrace their culture.”

Kinky Hair

The term “going natural” has increased in usage these past couple of years among the black community, more specifically black women in said community. But what exactly does this term mean, and what is the function of it? Why are women now caring about “going natural”? Latoya, owner of Kenky Salon, guides us through the recent fad of going natural.

Father and Son

Josue “Sentry” Sinvil Jr., has a passion for rap. As he writes, creates beats/samples and records his voice, Sentry gives us insight into how he expresses his feelings through rap. He raps because he “must” and it makes him feel whole when daily pressures begin to overwhelm him. Dealing with bills, work, helping his father deal with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), re-applying and saving up for school, rap gives Sentry the ability to sort through and reflect on his world. His anxieties and happiness are both mentioned in his work as well as what he hopes to be and do in the future.

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