The Year We Wouldn't Keep QuietIt was a year of small gains and unrelenting setbacks, but the San Francisco-Bay Area held strong in 2017: making inspired art, expressing ourselves and leading the national resistance. Against a backdrop of often-overwhelming crises, individual artists showed us how to keep moving forward. We highlight some of the many artists who helped us navigate the heartbreaks and disappointments, and celebrate the moments when the Bay Area's creativity, resilience, and collective strength shined bright.
With cinematography by Claudia Escobar, Kelly Whalen, Elie Khadra, Benjamin Michel, Peter Ruocco, Mike Seely, Omid Zoufonoun, and Armando Aparicio, editing by Kelly Whalen, and music by UC Berkeley alumna Connie Lim, aka MILCK, and her breathtaking song "Quiet," we close out 2017 remembering we can’t and won’t be quiet.
A Boombox Procession Honors Lives Lost in Ghost ShipWhile the Dec. 2 anniversary of the Ghost Ship fire was a solemn occasion, some artists in Oakland’s underground music scene chose to honor the lives lost by dancing in the streets. Most of the 36 people who passed away in the warehouse fire were active in the underground arts and music scenes. To celebrate their lives, musicians and event producers Amber Royal and Lucas Smithey teamed up to throw a boombox procession – where friends and loved ones marched through Oakland with speakers blasting music created by artists who died in the fire. The bittersweet occasion provided the opportunity to commemorate the deceased in a way that felt authentic to their community, and served as a reminder of the strength and resilience of Oakland’s creative scene in the face of disappearing arts spaces.
A Ballet About HomelessnessCan a ballet make an audience more empathetic? San Francisco-based choreographer Marika Brussel hopes her new piece, "From Shadows," will do just that.
Brussel’s ballet tells the story of a family ripped apart by addiction -- and of a young girl searching for her father in the faces of those who live on the streets. For Brussel the dance carries both local significance -- she regularly passes homeless encampments on her way to and from the ODC dance studios -- and personal weight. She, too, loved someone who lost several years of their life to homelessness.
“It’s much easier just to close down, and to not look at other people’s pain,” Brussel says. “I don’t want to not have those feelings, so I made this dance.” Watch dancers transform the pain of invisibility and neglect into a beautiful dance in "From Shadows."
Director, Cinematographer, Editor: Peter Ruocco
A Gravity-Defying Dance For Girls EverywhereFlyaway Productions uses aerial dance to explore the credibility of women’s voices in the public realm.
Choreographer Jo Kreiter created the aerial dance "The Right To Be Believed" long before #MeToo, and before the recent outpouring of stories from women who have endured harassment and sexualt assault.
Now Kreiter’s vision -- of women taking over a whole Oakland, CA-city block to perform a dance about the credibility of women’s voices -- takes on new poignancy as Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, and too many other powerful men attempt to deflect allegations by discrediting their accusers.
“We need to start believing women, believing that our experiences have value,” says Krieter. “Belittled, pushed aside and assaulted, all these things that every women goes through, we’ve had enough of that.”
Watch dancers Bianca Cabrera, Sonsherée Giles, MaryStarr Hope, Yayoi Kambara, Megan Lowe, and Sonya Smith in a moving display of women’s vulnerability and strength, with music by FR333, including the song “Emily Doe,” inspired by the woman who survived a brutal sexual assault in 2015 by Stanford freshman Brock Turner.
Director, Editor: Claudia Escobar
Cinematography: Claudia Escobar and Elie Khadra
Executive Producer: David Markus
A Santa Rosa Cartoonist’s ‘Fire Story’ Comes to LifeAmong artists who lost their homes and studios in the Northern California fires, a common refrain is feeling stymied, stuck, unable to create — hoping the spark will return once the shock and confusion passes.
Not Brian Fies. Just one day after his house and everything in it burned to the ground, October 9, 2017, the cartoonist bought some cheap paper, Sharpies, and highlighters, and got to work reporting what he and his wife had seen the night of the fires. The resulting cartoon came quickly, with more raw edges than Fies' usual standards, but it was undeniably, unflinchingly honest.
The response was massive. In the week after the fire, an online version of Fies' comic, 'A Fire Story,' was viewed by over half a million people. Now, KQED Arts bring his story to life. With moving animation, and with narration straight from Fies and his wife, Karen Fies, 'A Fire Story' now also includes an epilogue from the artist about the long process of recovery, and the stability of home.
Narrators: Brian and Karen Fies
Director, Producer, Sound Design: Kelly Whalen
Co-Director, Animator, Editor: Farrin Abbott
Executive Producer: David Markus
A production of KQED Arts
How Daly City’s Filipino Mobile DJ Scene Changed Hip-Hop ForeverApollo Novicio, Ken Anolin and Dino Rivera weren’t trying to change the world. Growing up in Daly City in the 1980s, they just wanted to rock parties for their friends, families and fellow Filipinos. Hauling mobile DJ setups from houses to garages to church auditoriums, the two were part of a booming scene of DJ crews and dancers who created their own subculture in a mostly forgotten corner of the Bay Area while grandma cooked the rice and adobo.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the turntable innovations of people like DJ Qbert, Mix Master Mike and others who sprung from Daly City’s mobile DJ scene are felt everywhere in hip-hop and beyond — whether in pure technical scratch wizardry, the off-kilter production styles of J. Dilla and Madlib, or the prominence of the turntable as an individual instrument. Inspired by Oliver Wang’s essential history "Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the Bay Area," KQED recently caught up with Novicio, Anolin and Rivera for a look into the roots of their musical revolution. —Gabe Meline