Alfred J. Santana is an independent filmmaker and photographer. He has made numerous award-winning documentaries, public affairs films and videos that have aired on both network and public television. Mr. Santana’s production company, Al Santana Productions, produces documentary, narrative and experimental work for television, the web and theatrical presentation. The company also produces industrial and corporate videos. Al is currently developing a feature narrative film titled Vigilance.
Salty Dog Blues (2013), the latest in a string of documentaries is an award winning 52 minute documentary about retired Merchant Marines of color and their relationship to the National Maritime Union. In collaboration with historian and co-producer/director Denise Belén Santiago they produced this award-winning documentary that tells the story of men and women merchant mariners of color from Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Surinam, and the U.S. mainland. Salty Dog Blues won first prize in the documentary feature category of the 2013 Worker's Unite International Film Festival, and is an official selection of the 2014 Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. Salty Dog Blues is distributed by Third World Newsreel www.twn.org.
In 2009 writer and producer Laura L. Fowler and Al collaborated on a 13 min. short narrative titled Flush. It is a dark comedy about the psychological effects of family loss. The film shot in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, takes place in the bathroom of a brownstone, where a mother grieves over the untimely death of her sister, while her two adult children try to console her.
One People (2007) is a hybrid doc/narrative short featuring Kimmie Nicole and Jennica Carmona, poet/playwright/activist, Amiri Baraka and veteran actor, Ruby Dee. The film, co-produced and co-written by Laura L. Fowler and Al Santana focuses on two sisters who discover a politicized Lorraine Hansberry as they struggle to come to grips with the question of art vs politics. One People premiered at the 11th annual Harlem Stage On Screen. Subsequently, it screened at Creatively Speaking Film Festival at BAM Rose Cinemas, the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival and in “Brooklyn Close Up," a retrospective of Al’s work at BAM Cinematek.
Military Option (2005) a co-production of Al Santana, Rico Speight and Third World Newsreel, is a documentary short that takes a critical look at military recruiting practices within communities of color. Military Option screened at Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAM Rose Cinemas, The Museum of Modern Art, and at various colleges and universities.
Durban 400 (2003) a co-production of the Drammeh Institute, is a 52 minute documentary that follows a group of activists to Durban, South Africa for the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances. Their goal was to address the issue of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery, and Colonialism as Crimes Against Humanity. The film has been screened nationally and internationally and has been used as an organizing tool around the issue of reparations.
In response to the events of 9/11, Al Santana’s independent documentary short In the Spirit of Peace (2002) screened at the Brooklyn Arts Council, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAM Rose Cinemas and aired on WNET Channel 13’s Reel New York in 2002.
Al Santana’s award winning documentary film, Voices of The Gods (1985) takes a look at two ancient West African religions that are practiced in the United States today. It premiered at the 1985 Margaret Mead International Film Festival and went on to screen at festivals in France, Italy, Burkina Faso, Canada, and throughout the United States. Voices of The Gods is currently housed in the permanent collection of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Research Center in Black Culture and numerous colleges, universities and museums, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of African Art. Voices of The Gods was showcased at The Film Society of Lincoln Center's retrospective of independent Black cinema 1968-1986 Tell It Like It Is series, 2015.
From 1986 to 1993 Alfred Santana served on the board of directors of Production Partners for Black and Latino Images and Third World Newsreel, two New York City based media organizations. During those years he also developed and managed the first professional in-house video production facility at the New York City Transit Authority. There he managed video and photography personnel and the unit’s annual budget. He was responsible for producing and directing corporate communications and training videos, developing technical specifications and contract oversight of equipment purchases and outside services.
Al Santana’s other film related work includes serving as panelist for the CEBA awards, New Jersey Film Festival; judge for the national EMMY awards and artistic consultant for the Fox Chase Cancer Center in the production of a video about smoking cessation within communities of color.
As staff cinematographer for New Jersey Public Television from 1977 to 1980, Al shot a variety of public affairs shows and documentaries, including a TV special on famed recording artist and song stylist Sarah Vaughan titled Listen To The Sun.
In the coarse of his career, Mr. Santana has traveled extensively throughout Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean and is the recipient of production grants from the New York State Council On The Arts, The New York Foundation for The Arts, and the Jerome Foundation.
As adjunct faculty, Mr. Santana taught film and video production courses at the City College of New York for fourteen years and the Digital Film Academy in New York City for three years.
Al Santana holds an MFA degree in digital cinema from National University, a BS degree in sociology and film from The City University of New York’s CUNY BA program.
From 1981 to 1996 Mr. Santana was a member of IATSE Local 600 cinematographer’s union and currently holds membership in the Black Documentary Collective, DV Republic and The Independent Feature Project.