Award-Winning Short Film Follows The Emotional Journey Of An Artist Returning Home & Confronting Her Past

‘Back in The Island’ is a short film exploring the creative journey of artist Amanda Valle as she returns to her home in the Dominican Republic. Following an emotionally draining period, Amanda seeks comfort in the local culture by immersing herself in the colors and textures that were once so familiar. A journey of self discovery, the short film became the main source of inspiration for the artist’s new series composed of twelve paintings.

Amanda Valle was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Only daughter of a single mother, she spent most of her early years home. Later on Amanda left the island and moved to the USA which eventually led her to participate in several events, such as Art Basel Miami 2017, Salone del Mobile Milan 2018 (Nilufar Gallery). Since 2019 she lives and works between the Dominican Republic and Miami dedicating her time to painting and art experimentation.

In a press release, Amanda says ‘Back In The Island’ was her way of processing feelings about going back to her motherland, and immersing herself in the culture once again.

“I’d imagined for quite some time what it would be like to return home after living abroad – the astonishing scenery, the cultural confrontation, the emotional traction and the aggravated sense of belonging. I came back aware of the change of settings, knowing that the living environment grew older, but with a burning need of discovering the unvarying spirit of our culture,” she said. 

‘Back in The Island’ has been selected in over twenty international film festivals, including Aesthetica Short Film Festival, The Fine Arts Film Festival, Split Videoart Festival, taking home New Generation Award at Berlin Commercial. 

We had the opportunity to speak with the artist herself after watching her stunningly beautiful, emotional and personal film, which you can see in full below:

Can you tell us how the idea for ‘Back In The Island’ came about, and what you were experiencing in the lead up to your return to DR? 

Creating a short film and directing it has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my career. Everything was born almost accidentally. While working in my country on the series of paintings with the same name, my gallery in Paris asked me to do a project that would define my art. It could be a sculpture, installation, whatever I wanted, so since my work is abstract I wanted to create something that would visually translate into realistic images that had inspired me to create those paintings.

In my mind it was just a video with images, but the more I worked on the idea, the more I became closer to creating a short film. I ended up writing a story that has a lot to do with my roots and the beliefs that I held during childhood with my grandfather.

Your film is largely about self-discovery. What did you set out to discover about yourself when you started making this? 

This is a short film based on my experience during my two years of stay in the Dominican Republic, seeking inspiration while experimenting with the colors around me. It is a representation of my creative journey. It has a lot to do with my emotional state. I would say that it is almost autobiographical. I was able to connect again with that Amanda from many years back and work with my emotions. I believe that making Back to Island was kind of the final cure. 

How has the pandemic impacted your work as an artist and filmmaker, and what has it forced you to change?

I became stronger as an artist. I dedicated time to things that probably I wouldn’t have paid attention to before the pandemic. I believe that moment of isolation was the perfect time for me to connect and create using my emotions. It makes me more confident about all my ideas and how I can make them happen.

What was it about your Dominican heritage and the culture that you learned something new about upon your return? 

I learned that there is always something good about going home. There is also always something new to discover, maybe in your memories, in old places from your childhood, maybe in a new story that a family member or close friend will tell you. Or in photos that you didn’t even remember existed. All these memories that surround my culture led me to create a story which my grandfather used to believe in and which I brought to life.

Can you share more about how this journey inspired your new series of paintings, and what message(s) you hope to share through them? 

I believe in life as my own source of inspiration. Life in all its complexities, but also in those little gestures that make it simple. Observe, live, interact – it all becomes part of your memory. The story that a man tells a stranger and which I listened to. The places I visit and what I take with me from them. My emotional state and everything that it provokes. This is what I want to share, life through art in any way.

What’s next for you, and where do you see yourself in 10 years?  

I’m now working on a new project that is an art installation as a collection of NFTs called Latent Life. I’m also brainstorming about another short and of course I will keep painting. I want to grow as a person, as an artist. I want to be able to communicate and to connect with the public through my art, creating what in the end we all want to feel: a spark, a sensation.

I want my art to occupy spaces that aesthetically cause a sigh or perhaps something more than that. And of course I want to have more collaborations and reach new countries. Go even deeper into what I experience as a person and be able to manifest it through my art. I want to be.

You can learn more about Amanda Valle’s work by visiting her website.