Sonya Rosario

"You cannot create a legacy for yourself,
until you create one for someone else"

Artist Statement

I am deeply moved by sharing the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds. It is what people bring to this world but are not acknowledged for that drives me forward. As a filmmaker, filming women and women of color in Idaho, my goal is to utilize my skills and talents as a filmmaker to create a place of safety for the storyteller and give them the opportunity to remember their commitment to those who can no longer speak on their own behalf. I believe that personal stories and reflections can help bring into question stereotypical portrayals that sometimes dominate myths about each other. By merely hearing something familiar, it can remind us that we are not so different.

Film and storytelling can help us create a public record of little known and neglected histories for future generations to come. I grew up in many different cultures (Italy, Holland, and Azores, Portugal)—raised in a military family (as a military brat) with the opportunity to see the richness of culture and community with all its flavors.

"A natural storyteller and social justice activist, my films and writings are a commitment to the silent voices that cannot speak on their own behalf and of ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds.”

This opened my sight to what I could bring to the world. Coming from a long line of women poets, storytellers, musicians and community organizers built upon my conviction. The stories I was told by my mother, Gloria Reyes, and other women in my family were rich in imagery, and filmmaking has always been a natural progression. A novice through my first film, I learned to use natural light and my surroundings to the benefit of the story, capturing the resilience of the human spirit. I also enjoy teaching the women how to use the camera. Many of my participants actually become my assistants on the shoots. I founded the Women of Color Alliance in 1999, a non-profit organization working with women in leadership living on the Reservations and in rural Idaho. This aided my films in using real people in real settings with imagery befitting their life, and provided a large scope to open the mind to what we need to do to facilitate change.

My reliance falls on oral histories, community leaders, and Latino and Native American storytellers, combining the old ways with new generational thinking. Idaho’s Forgotten War gave me the opportunity to build a personal relationship with Amy Trice, Kootenai Tribal elders, historians and storytellers as consultants, and utilizing Nez Perce Elder, Horace Axtell’s ‘GOD-Like' voice to interject the enormity of “the power of one.” In each film, I aim to create a mystical and empowering sensation. It is tantalizing that I am chosen to hear the most private and personal reflections.

As it has throughout history, film can and does inspire people to move into action, both empowering them with information and challenging negative beliefs about others and themselves. My films and writings are my commitment to social justice. By sharing stories of courage, my goal is to stimulate memory of historical events that influenced and changed lives in a community for the better. Film and storytelling can help us create a public record of little known and neglected histories for future generations.