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Absence, space and memory in documentary cinema

November 12, 2020

Death, and the grief caused by the absence of our loved ones, has become the last taboo in our Western societies. With a strength redoubled by the global pandemic, its specter favors the proliferation of our fears and anxieties by not giving it the necessary space to assimilate our inevitable finitude.

Through documentary cinema, we can face the ritual and emotional processes that occur after the death of a loved one and the absence of what is lost. Through images, memories and stories we give narrative meaning to that pain that assails us, enveloping it with empathy, compassion and even humor. These films will awaken a creative curiosity that will reveal mysteries and provide us with emotional and aesthetic tools to think about death.

Tell Me When You Die: Politics, Performance and Queer Love in the Time of Capitalism at Union Docs

April 05, 2019

An evening curated by Ruth Somalo to traverse the space between physical limitations and freedom politically and corporally. Filmmakers Amber Bemak and Nadia Granados will be present for the world premiere of “Tell Me When You Die“, a trilogy of performative films that reframe porn as a genre which can be empowering in its engagement with women and their bodies. Bemak and Granados work collaboratively with text, language, and the body to illustrate the colonial narratives that are still deeply entrenched and grappled with amongst minorities. Curator/Researcher Almudena Escobar López will join Ruth, Amber and Nadia in conversation to discuss the politics and reclamation of the nude body as a site for empowerment and experimentation within filmmaking.

From Utopia to Queer Utopia at Union Docs

October 25, 2018

Ruth Somalo presents the work of Andrés Senra.

From Utopia to queer Utopia presents two works born out of Andrés' research about the city as a body where social, political and economical tensions are acting and being projected onto. His process involves a mixture of documentation, archive, fiction, reality and poetry. Auslandia: Paraiso is a performative work of speculative fiction where an originally utopian community goes through a full civilization cycle ending up in violence. Kommune is a film about the Birth of a new city, based under the common interest of creating a utopia established on the most radical freedom. A project about the very concept of utopia, its limits and possibilities, in relation to the history of Western thought and literature. The Free Town of Christiania is a self-managed city of about 900 residents in Christianshavn district in the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen. Christiania proclaimed itself an independent community on September 26, 1970. The history of Christiania begins with the occupation of a military abandoned area by parents who were claiming for spaces where their children could play. Senra created a series of portraits about notions that should be considered when talking about how a community works: feelings, structure, empowerment, urbanity, architecture, design, dreams, nature, expectations, agreements, organization, fears and inside / outside the city.

HOLY FLUIDS Program at Union Docs

June 14, 2018

Bodily fluids, like emotions, flow, seep, infiltrate. And if they belong to the female body they are systematically controlled, judged, stigmatized. Even today, the way that our fluids are understood is not a universal scientific concept, but emerged from our own history and cultural concepts. Re addressing one’s own body perceptions and reclaiming our secretions help us confront the notion of the body as a passive object that could be abused, transformed and subjugated.

How do misconceptions on the female body shape the cultural position of women? UnionDocs is excited to present Holy Fluids and Absent Wounds, a program by filmmaker & curator Ruth Somalo that presents the work of seven filmmakers that directly or indirectly deal with the female body, its secretions, its functions and its representation.

Work included the US premiere of Neither Spring Nor Estuary by Brazilian filmmaker and anthropologist Valentina Homem; Absent Wound by Iranian filmmaker Maryam Tafakory and Infinite Galatea by the french-spanish team of Julia Maura in collaboration with Mariangela Pluchino, Ambra Reijnen, Maria Chatzi, and Fátima Flores Rojas.  These three amazing works of video are presented in a rhythmic conversation with the alchemic 16mm films of British animator extraordinaire Vicky Smith (Noisy Licking, Dribbling and Spitting, Rash and Sobbing, spitting, scratching) and the powerfully incisive cinematic statement that is Toxic Shock by Vanessa Renwick. Vanessa and Vicky were in conversation with curator Ruth Somalo.

Architecture and Design Film Fest Programming Advisor

The Architecture & Design Film Festival, celebrates the unique creative spirit that drives architecture and design. With a curated selection of films, events and panel discussions, ADFF creates an opportunity to entertain, engage and educate all types of people who are excited about architecture and design

IIFF DOCS - Associate Festival Director and Programmer

RUTH Somalo is Associate Festival Director and Programmer of IIFF DOCS.

Now in its sixth year, ALBA's Impugning Impunity Human Rights Documentary Film Festival has never been more critical. The festival provokes dialogue about justice, resistance, and equality through a slate of groundbreaking new documentaries on human rights issues, post-screening Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and community talk-backs with human rights advocates and activists. Through its open call, the festival gives voice to unheard communities and filmmakers across the world. 


Ruth is a programmer for DOCUMENTAMADRID, a festival organised by the Madrid City Council and dedicated to multiple expressions of documentary film and the search for itineraries of the reality that are open to the genre’s new languages and expressions.

DOCUMENTAMADRID is an annual meeting point for creators, professionals and audiences to whom their work is presented. The 14th edition of the Madrid International Documentary Film Festival will be held between May 4th and 14th, 2017.

BROKEN SENSES - 2017 Flaherty NYC Winter/Spring Season curated by Ruth Somalo

BROKEN SENSES explores the relationships between the senses, knowledge, the creation of memory, and our experience in understanding the world. How does one represent sense memory? Can one identify with sense memories one has never had through the experiences of hearing, touch, smell, taste, vision, kinesthesis, and altered states? Through personal and historical experiences, ranging from the joyful to the solemn, these embodied interventions conjure affective strategies to address blindness, sexuality, government surveillance, family, aging processes, death and grief, bliss, trauma, love, fear, and spiritual awakening.

Artists include: Xander Marro, Dryden Goodwin, Roddy Bogawa, Steve Reinke, Clint Enns, Chris Marker, Ivana Larrosa, NazlıDinçel, Guido Hendrikx, Mea de Jong, Sophie Calle, Sandra Ruesga, Mareike Bernien, Kerstin Schroedinger, Soda_Jerk, Mónica Savirón, Luis Parés, Jorge Leon, Eric Stewart, Peter Tscherkassky, Ruth Patir, Jay Rosenblatt, Jonathan Schwartz, Chu-Li Shewring and Adam Gutch.


Ruth is a features Programmer at DOC NYC.

DOC NYC burst upon the scene in 2010 with an inaugural event that was hailed as “ambitious” (New York Times) and “selective but eclectic” (Village Voice). By 2014, DOC NYC had become America’s largest documentary film festival and voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the “top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world”.  Based at the West Village’s IFC Center, Chelsea’s SVA Theater and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema, the eight-day festival showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations.  It also seeks to make connections that happen “only in New York.”

In 2015, the festival showcased 200+ films & events, presented by 200+ filmmakers & special guests, including a closing night film presented by Hillary Clinton. Other past guests include Jim Carrey, Susan Sarandon, Martin Scorsese, Big Bird, Sarah Polley, Jared Leto, Noam Chomsky, Ricki Lake, Michael Moore, Michel Gondry, Omar Epps, Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, Jonathan Franzen, Kathleen Hanna, Spandau Ballet, Greil Marcus, Grace Lee Boggs, Bela Fleck, Nat Hentoff, Chuck Workman, and The Mekons. Audience attendees have included Harry Belafonte, Rosario Dawson, Fred Armisen, Jim Jarmusch, Michael Stipe, Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Russell Simmons, Darren Aronofsky, Cornel West, Naomi Watts, among others.

The Limit of our Gaze: Women Filmmakers and Contemporary Documentary in Spain

Ruth curated this Showcase and Symposium with Lur Olaizola bringing the best of Spanish Non Fiction to NYC audiences. Past guest filmmakers include: Mercedes Álvarez, Neus Ballús, Cecilia Barriga, Virginia García del Pino, Pilar Monsell, and Sandra Ruesga.

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