Raafi Riveroimages and ideas

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Raafi Rivero is a filmmaker and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Click here for professional inquiries.

These missives have been posted at varying intervals since 2006 when “moblogging” was a thing. Please explore work and ideas here, elsewhere, or on the social platform of your choice:

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Scout Tafoya, the author of the linked article, and film essayist at large, approached after our screening at the BlackStar Film Festival to congratulate me on making a “fucking awesome film.” That made me happy. Here’s an interview with me and a passage from his review of the film:

Not only is Rivero an exciting, intelligent new director with plenty to say about art and life, his filmmaking is impossibly beautiful, raw and honest. 72 Hours is tender and loving but never plays down the ugliness of life in impoverished Brooklyn. The way he captures the streets is splendidly empathetic, even as he uncovers the darkest things hiding in the cold night.

The emotional moment he describes between Haile Gerima and I was one of those once-in-a-lifetime type of beats. Please do click-through for the whole article.


What I loved about BlackStar was that there were no velvet ropes. The demarcations between filmmakers, panelists, and audience members were virtually nonexistent. More than once I witnessed a panelist reference another august filmmaker only to have that person be sitting in the audience. The quality of discussion during Q&As and in the lobby afterwards was truly outstanding. I hope to return.



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Flying out to LA I knew one thing was certain, I would return a changed person – baptized by the fact that I could now, officially, call myself a feature filmmaker. The festival itself was 9 days, but I stayed in LA for just over two weeks, saw at least 14 movies, and talked myself dry. Moments that I didn’t capture were just as good as the ones below, nor do the ones included actually “say” all that much, but the experience, for me, was singular and these are the images that describe it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Though you always imagine music being written and placed into your film, one of the things I hadn’t pictured at the start of this process was standing in a room while the cellist and composer record the music. Pictured, Alexandre “Diesel” Varela and Kristine Kruta, who wrote and performed our original score in a whirlwind session just days before I left for the LA Film Festival.

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Diogenes Brito, a designer at Slack, writes about his decision to make the skin color of the Add to Slack button brown.

Why was the choice an important one, and why did it matter to the people of color who saw it? The simple answer is that they rarely see something like that. These people saw the image and immediately noticed how unusual it was. They were appreciative of being represented in a world where American media has the bad habit of portraying white people as the default, and everyone else as deviations from the norm.

Though not explicitly a companion piece, design and tech leader John Maeda’s, Did I Grow Up And Become The Yellow Hand? is the perfect pairing. Maeda plumbs the pitfalls of racial inclusion as both a tried-and-true path to greater creativity, and a later-in-life embrace of his own colored identity.

I can now, a decade later, remember how much I simply tuned it all out. I thought back then as well, “This is the way that it is.” And rely on what I had learned to be right. A simple algorithm. Don’t complain. Withstand. Don’t cause problems.

Undergirding both pieces is the tension between race and color. Though I’ve written about those same tensions, what I find refreshing is that in talking about things like the color of an Emoji icon, the discussion moves past mushy things like feelings. Ideas and politics become practical once the pixels hit the screen, so to speak. These two designers both come to the conclusion that identity is not something that can or should be wrapped into the larger wet blanket of ‘universality‘. Identity cannot be ignored. This leads to better design. And a wider gamut of ideas in the marketplace.

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LAFF16 Filmmaker Announcement

I’ve been waiting to say something like this for years. My first feature film, “72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story?” will make its World Premiere in competition at the LA Film Festival. It is a tremendous honor and I couldn’t be more proud. See the trailer here, or sign up for updates on the project at the film’s website. I’ll be updating this space regularly throughout the festival process.

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After a recent two-week trip to Morocco in which I shot several thousand images, I have much to share. The question is format. For the first time, I’ve been exploring printing the work.

The trip covered Marrakech, Fes, the Atlas mountains, the Merzouga Dunes and more. So much to see, and even more to visit again on a future trip. Or, better yet, let’s find somewhere to sip mint tea and I’ll share the images in person.

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72 Hours a Brooklyn Love Story? is a feature film about love and coming-of-age that I wrote and directed. The project was developed with Reel Works, an organization that mentors youth filmmakers in Brooklyn, and was inspired by a short documentary film by one of the students there.

Shooting took place in neighborhoods as far apart as Brownsville and Ft. Greene, Bushwick and Flatbush – traversing the great distances that many teens cover on a daily basis. We are still in postproduction, and hope to play film festivals in 2016.

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This post by Jason Kottke is one of my favorites. I’ve re-read it several times since it was first published in 2012. In it he considers two approaches to running a business, but it’s the commingled sense of fret and wonder that makes it worth the repeated visits.

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This essay by Crag Mod asks the question, “will digital books ever replace print?” Call it a state-of-digital-books referendum. Beautifully written and digitally bound.

To read a book once is to know it in passing. To read it over and over is to become confidants. The relationship between a reader and a book is measured not in hours or minutes but, ideally, in months and years.

Recently, a hardcover of Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire was gifted to me. Because I rarely read in print these days (other than magazines), I bought the book from Apple as well. The idea is that I don’t have to wait until some imagined future where I make time to read the books on my side table every night, I can just read the thing anytime. A dual-platform experiment — one not quite undertaken in Mod’s essay, but perhaps a best-of-both worlds approach, for now.

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A recent film project took me all over the city — and the boroughs. These shots were caught in between. All happen to have been captured in Manhattan. The last two happen to have been captured a half-block apart.

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One could have an entire career photographing Coney Island. Numerous photo books and essays have been shot in the area. In his recent guide to the neighborhood, Scott Newman showed some of the highlights. The mix of people and vistas is unlike any in the city. The socioeconomic forces that make the area both a tourist attraction and one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city come across in every direction one looks. Immigrants, subsistence fisherman, bikers, lovers, tourists. It is impossible to be comprehensive. Here are a couple recent snaps.