Kristal Sotomayor on ‘Expanding Sanctuary,’ an Added Velocity Spotlight Interview

Kristal Sotomayor is the subject of our fifth and final Added Velocity 2021-2022 spotlight interview series! Her project "Expanding Sanctuary" was first funded through Velocity Fund in 2020, and now with $15,000 in additional funding through Added Velocity, she will further her 26-minute documentary that chronicles the South-Philadelphia-led activist campaign to end the Philadelphia police database sharing with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Learn more below!

A man and women with brown skin, dressed in a suit and bridal gown, stand in the center of Broad street in front of Philadelphia City Hall, holding signs that say "ABOLISH ICE" and "EXPAND SANCTUARY / END PARS"
‘Expanding Sanctuary’ Lead Artist, Kristal Sotomayor

Today we bring you our fifth and final Added Velocity 2021-2022 awardee spotlight, a Q&A interview with Kristal Sotomayor, lead artist of Expanding Sanctuary! Originally awarded $5,000 through the Velocity Fund in 2020, Added Velocity’s additional $15,000 in funding will further the project- “a (26 min) documentary about the campaign to end the sharing of the police database with Immigration and Customs Enforcement led by Juntos and the Latinx immigrant community in South Philly.”

Thank you to Kristal and all of the other Velocity Fund awardees, whose spotlight interviews you can read here on Artblog! Added Velocity Spotlights: Diente and Sky Fo (Choreto), John Jarboe (The Beardmobile), Ana Cecilia Gonzalez (Alumbra), and Yaroub Al Obaidi (Al Mudhif – A Confluence).

Interview with Kristal Sotomayor

Roberta Fallon: I love this activist film project to help publicize and advocate for change on behalf of Juntos and the Latino community who are fighting the persecution of immigrants by the ICE/Police connection. Making a film is a strenuous and lengthy process. Is the film completed at this point?

Kristal Sotomayor: We’ve been working on Expanding Sanctuary for over 4 years now but are close to a fine cut of the film. We aim to finally complete the film this year and premiere it late this year or next year at film festivals. Working on this film for so long has been challenging but it has been rewarding to work with the Latinx immigrant community and Juntos to tell this important story.

Roberta: Do you see sustaining the project long-term? If so, what form would that take…more community events and screenings? Another film? Something else?

Kristal: We would love to have this project take on the form of community events, screenings, and as an opportunity to organize the community toward creating more legislative change. Having worked with Juntos for many years on this project, we’re continuing the relationship through work on my next film Alx Through the Labyrinth, a docu-animation film project about the nonbinary Latinx COVID experience. The film is being created collaboratively with Co-Director Daniel de Jesus, Graphics Designer Gabe Loredo, Background Animation Designer Kirsten Senske, and Writer’s Assistant / Assistant Producer Sofia Mondragon. We recently received the Leeway x IPMF Media Artist + Activist Residency to work with Juntos to document and develop an online community oral history archive of video interviews of intergenerational Latinx COVID-19 stories. The interviews and collaboration with Juntos community members and youth will shape the storytelling and impact of the docu-animation film Alx Through The Labyrinth about the effects of COVID-19 on Latinx in Philadelphia.

Roberta: Any other thing you’d like to tell me about yourself or the project?

Kristal: We’re very thankful to have received the Added Velocity Grant to support our ability to create an accessible outreach campaign for Expanding Sanctuary. Oftentimes, film projects aren’t able to secure funding to implement an impact campaign so we’re very excited to be able to reach Philadelphia audiences.