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SANTOS: Skin to Skin – A Searchlight Films Production

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John Santos
Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos
Directed by: Kathryn Golden
Produced by: Ashley James and Kathryn Golden
2022 / English and Spanish with English subtitles / 75 minutes

SANTOS: Skin to Skin is a film portrait of community activist and seven-time Grammy nominee John Santos, a “keeper of the Afro-Caribbean flame.” In this illuminating documentary, Santos links the rhythms of his ancestors to contemporary struggles against urban gentrification, social inequality, and racial injustice. His fingers and palms on the skin of the conga peel back the legacy of colonialism while navigating the politics of culture and global migration.

One of the world’s foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music, Santos, through his mixed Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean heritage, musical storytelling in performance, and legendary percussion classes, strives to unite and expand his kaleidoscopic audience.

The filmmakers follow Santos from rehearsals in his garage studio in Oakland, California, to performances at local community centers, gigs with congueros in the barrios of Puerto Rico, and concert stages around the United States.

Rich in unforgettable musical performances, SANTOS: Skin to Skin captures Santos playing alongside a stellar cast of international jazz musicians, including Eddie Palmieri, Raul Rekow and Orestes Vilató of Santana, Omar Sosa, Rico Pabón, Ernesto Oviedo, and Jerry Medina.

SANTOS: Skin to Skin is a film portrait of community activist and seven-time Grammy nominee John Santos, a “keeper of the Afro-Caribbean flame.” Rich in musical performances, Santos links the rhythms of his ancestors to contemporary struggles of identity and social justice.

Kathryn Golden: Director/Producer/Editor

She has produced award-winning films including: Producer/Director Zenju’s Path (BOS/PBS, Netherlands) commissioned documentary about the first female African-American Buddhist priests calling to Zen with her drum; Producer/Director Moments of Illumination – Lawrence Jordan (BOS/PBS, Netherlands) commissioned documentary of the Bay Area animator/founder of avant-garde cinema in America; Producer/Director/Editor, Across Time and Space German co-production broadcast documentary about the Bondy family surviving Nazi Germany to preserve pioneering educational ideas in America; Producer/Editor And Still We Dance, (PBS) a one hour portrait of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; Producer/Editor, Kitka & Davka in Concert (PBS); Producer/Director/Editor, American Treasure – The Folk Art of Joaquim Miguel Almeida New England regional PBS. Awards include: National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Advertisers Short Film Award, Isadora Duncan (IZZY) Award.

Ashley James: Producer/Cinematography

Former journalist, The Hartford Times, (Gannett News Service) Hartford, CT and station manager of KTOP/Channel 10, Oakland, CA. where he garnered 32 national awards for excellence in television programming. Recent work includes: Director, Kitka and Davka in Concert (PBS); Director/Cinematographer, Bomba – Dancing the Drum, (PBS); Producer/Director Home and Almost Free, about Oakland ex-convicts; Producer/Director/Cinematographer And Still We Dance, (PBS) a one hour portrait of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Awards include: the AFI Independent Filmmaker award; three CINE Golden Eagles; eight National Endowment for the Arts production grants; grants from the PBS Latino Public Broadcasting Consortium, National Black Programming Consortium, honors from the San Francisco Black Film Festival Newark, Black Film Festival (Paul Robeson Award), and Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. James is a past governor at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Northern California chapter.

Roberta Singer: Co-Producer

Roberta Singer PhD, Ethnomusicologist & Folklorist, presented Puerto Rican and Cuban music traditions for 40 years, City Lore, NY, with a mission to document, present, and advocate for grassroots cultures and ensure their living and traditions. Principal collaborator with Searchlight Films Bomba—Dancing the Drum, PBS National Documentary Co-Producer.

Jorge Oliver: Consulting Producer

He is a Puerto Rican filmmaker and the first Latino to be named Dean of The School of Art, at Pratt University, New York. His films have been featured in film festivals in the United States and around the world, including the Cork International Film Festival, the Havana Film Festival and the Festival de Viña del Mar in Chile. He was the first male filmmaker in the history of Puerto Rican cinema to openly deal with gay images and his production, Free to Love won the best documentary feature award at the 2014 Rincón International Film Festival in Puerto Rico. Oliver was a principal collaborator on BOMBA – Dancing the Drum with Searchlight Films.

SANTOS - Skin to Skin - A Searchlight Films Production
SANTOS – Skin to Skin – A Searchlight Films Production

FEATURING: JOHN SANTOS, THE JOHN SANTOS SEXTET, DR. JOHN CALLOWAY, MARCO DIAZ, SAUL SIERRA, DAVID FLORES, MELECIO MAGDALUYO.

AND: AIDA SALAZAR, AVELINA SALAZAR SANTOS, JOAO SALAZAR SANTOS

GUEST APPEARANCES: EDDIE PALMIERI, ORESTES VILATÓ, BOBBI CÉSPEDES, JERRY MEDINA, RAUL REKOW, ANTHONY BLEA, RICO PABÓN, OMAR SOSA, ABHIJIT BANERJEE, KENNY ENDO, PAQUITO D’RIVERA, WALFREDO DE LOS REYES, WAYNE WALLACE, ERNESTO OVIEDO, DESTANI WOLF, JAVIER NAVARRETTE, JOSÉ ROBERTO HERNANDEZ, ELENA SERRANO, ROBERT FARRIS THOMPSON, LINDA LUCERO, CECILIA ENGELHART, ORLANDO TORRIENTE, SANDRA GARCIA RIVERA, RAUL “LALI” DE LA CARIDAD GONZALES BRITO.

Santos: Skin to Skin Poster
Santos: Skin to Skin Poster

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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