Film Acquisitions

The Faces Behind the Dolls /Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecas

Prof. Sarah Aponte would like to thank Mary Ely Peña-Gratereaux for donating her important documentary The Faces Behind the Dolls /Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecas to our Dominican library.


The Faces Behind the Dolls /Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecas. Cayena Publications. Directed by Freddy Vargas. New York, 2012. Spanish/English. Color; 75 minutes. DVD.

This film is an acknowledgment to the immigrant labor workers in New York City, especially those at the Madame Alexander Doll Company.It illustrates the lives of Dominican women and their labor experiences with Madame Alexander Doll Company.The film also features the work and history of Madame Alexander Doll Company that has charmed children and adults all around the world from Queens, businesswomen, and actresses to world leaders.The documentary also highlights the uncertainty of the women as they strive for a better live for their families. Their voices and stories are a focus of the larger narrative of globalization and the effect it has on the lives of immigrants as they incorporate themselves into the U.S. Labor market.   

The Faces Behind the Dolls is an important resource for researchers, students and readers who are interested in the Dominican labor experiences in the U.S., Globalization, and Dominican immigration.

Jhensen Ortiz

Library Research Intern

Joan Soriano music at CUNY DSI Library

Prof. Sarah Aponte would like to thank Adam Taub for his visit and for donating the albums Vocales de Amor by Joan Soriano, Bachata Roja: Amor y amargue and the documentary El duque de la bachata


The Duke of Bachata (Horizon Line, 2009) is a documentary by Adam Taub that follows Joan “El duque de la bachata” Soriano on his quest to become a superstar. Taub travels with Soriano to different venues where Soriano plays with his family band, to his parents’ countryside home at La Luisa de Monte Plata and to the Unites States. Taub gives us a look into Soriano’s life in Dominican Republic as well as the life of his parents and closest family and friends. With this comes a look at the many challenges musicians face on their road to stardom. In various scenes Soriano questions why he has not found the success and even expresses his need for money since it is one of the only things that he does not have. As the documentary progresses we see that there is hope for Soriano. We see him at a studio recording singles, even coming to the United States of America to play in the Bachata Roja tour, organized by his producer Benjamin de Menil from iASO Records. Soriano’s success is almost ensured but as he recognizes “in music you can’t despair. God can’t please everyone at the same time.” He feels his time is coming; it is just a question of when. Soriano is patient, thankful and continues to work on his music since it is the only thing he keeps coming back to. Joan Soriano’s story is one that others can relate to since it speaks to the underdog. Here is a man that has not given up, he keeps fighting with the hope that his time will come.

Vocales de amor017


The other half of the donation includes the bachata albums Bachata Roja: Amor y Amargue, which will be getting its own blog post featuring more information about iASO Records and their mission so please stay tuned, and Vocales de amor (1998) by Joan Soriano it incorporates contrasting musical elements where the miscegenation of African and European culture is evident. The album’s first track – incidentally shares the same name as the album – sets the tone for a musical production that features quintessential bachatas that identify the mid to late nineties bachata and bachatarengue styles popularized by bachata legends Teodoro Reyes, Luis Vargas, El Chaval, and Joe Veras, among other bachateros. Vocales de amor literally translates to vocals of love or love vocals. Soriano’s singing is reminiscent of Reyes and Luis Segura, two pioneers who emerged decades prior, and who still perform. Like Reyes and Segura, Soriano sings about bitterness caused by heartache. His nasal passionate voice and picaresque guitar mesh with his lyrics to connect with the audience via his amargue (bitterness). “Sin tu amor no soy feliz” (Without Your Love I am Not Happy), “No podemos continuar” (We Cannot Continue), and “¿Que pasará mañana?” (What Will Happen Tomorrow?) are bachatas that epitomize this amargue. Soriano demonstrates his virtuosity as lead and rhythm guitarist. Other musicians to record for this album include Julian Lacheco y El Guaro on bass guitar; Robert Feliz Mario and David Paredes on guira; El Rubio and David Paredes on bongos; and Roberto Feliz, July Amparo Soriano, Morena Castillo, and Joan Soriano round off the chorus. Once again, thanks to Adam Taub for donating The Duke of Bachata and the album Vocales de Amor, both should be of interest for those researching Joan Soriano, Dominican music, culture or history.

Antonio Perez (Library Intern) and Nelson Santana (Assistant Librarian)

Gagá Batey San Luis donated to the DSI audiovisual collection

Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte would like to thank Eduardo Díaz, Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, for donating Gagá Batey San Luis, a 2010 digital film produced by Boynayel Mota, with an accompanying CD which documents Gagá music and afro-Caribbean religious festivities from the Dominican Republic. This multimedia project (film, music, photography, installation and mural) was presented at the Centro Cultural de España in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from October 5 to November 12, 2010.  Researcher/ anthropologist Soraya Aracena wrote the introduction to the photography exhibit catalogue (ISBN: 978-9945-8682-2-7).


Gagá Batey San Luis. Directed andProduced by Boynayel Mota. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana. 2010. Spanish/ Haitian Creole with English subtitles. Color, 60 minutes. DVD. [The video includes a 20-track compact disk of field recording music and a photographic exhibit catalogue].

Filmed in a batey (sugar workers’ town) during a 10-year period, this groundbreaking documentary by photographer and filmmaker Boynayel Mota looks at Gagá music in the Haitian-Dominican community of San Luis, a municipality of the Santo Domingo province in the Dominican Republic. Although it is primarily rooted in Africa, Gagá music is based on a syncretized belief system that, from time to time, experiences a myriad series of transformations by absorbing elements from both the local and international cultural scene ranging from Catholic saints to jazz and Mediterranean instruments. Over the years, Gagá music has merged with other forms of popular art and music. This joyful sound owes much of its vitality to the presence of second and third generation Dominicans of Haitian descent whose forbearers were sugar cane laborers who began to arrive to the Dominican Republic in the 1920s. A number of economic push factors established an ongoing migration pattern from Haiti to the Dominican Republic notwithstanding the decline of the sugar industry in recent years.


The filmmaker’s keen eye for detail captures some of the most vivid aspects of Gagá musical performances, bands and traditions. Through well-edited interviews with veteran and young musicians, community members and practitioners of Vodun or Vudun, the documentary disserts the ritualistic practices within Gagá festivities held annually during Holy Week and which include, among other things, food offerings, trance ceremonies; consumption of food, rum and medicinal herbs; songs sung in Haitian Creole; religious symbols and drawings rooted in African imagery; African instruments, music and dance; street parades, costumes, Loa or Lwa spirit invocations as well as rites of passage, African death rituals and fertility rituals.


At 60 minutes long, Gagá Batey San Luisprovides much insight into Gagá music and religious celebrations in a Haitian-Dominican town. Further, this audiovisual and musical project takes the viewer into a world of otherworldly aural perceptions that brings solace to a community that has been traditionally marginalized. Both the video and field music recording are of interest to those conducting research on the following : the African legacy in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Caribbean; migration, ethnicity, popular music, African instruments, popular arts and crafts, carnival music, transculturation, Caribbean bilingual communities, cultural hybridity, folk medicine, ceremonial trance music and dance, Catholic festivities and Haitian-Dominican community relations.

Amaury Rodriguez, Library Research Assistant

Some audiovisual resources on Juan Bosch available at our DSI Library

Below please find some of the audiovisual materials available at our CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library on Professor Juan Bosch who was a Dominican author, politician, and social scientist.

For more background information on Juan Bosch we recommend you view this excellent DVD in Spanish from our library’s audiovisual collection:

Elcaminodelahistoria270Juan Bosch: el camino de la historia. Produced by Guillermo-Piña Contreras. Santo Domingo, 1999. Color; 49 minutes. DVD.

This seminal biopic on Dominican writer and politician Juan Bosch looks at his early career and family upbringing, his political development and concerns about the social conditions of the peasantry as well as his exile in several Latin American countries during the Trujillo dictatorship. Kindly donated by CPEP(Comisión Permanente de Efemérides Patrias).

Juanboschendoscuentos273Juan Bosch en dos cuentos. Produced by Felix Germán. Santo Domingo, 2009. Spanish. Color; 26:50 minutes. DVD.

This digital film brings to the screen two short stories ("En un Bohío" and "Luis Pie") written by renowned Dominican author Juan Bosch. The film adaptation captures the social reality of Dominican rural life during the tumultuous decades of the 1920s and 1930s. Donated by CPEP(Comisión Permanente de Efemérides Patrias).

Vivirá: HomenajeVivira271 a Juan Bosch de Manuel Jiménez. Produced by Cundeamor Music. Santo Domingo, 2008. Spanish. 89 minutes. CD

This 2-disc CD arranged by Dominican composer Manuel Jiménez pays tribute to Juan Bosch whose work as author, politician and social scientist left an ever-lasting mark in 20th century Dominican life. Featuring Víctor Víctor, Claudia Serra, Luis Ángel, Sexappeal, Joe Vasconcelos, Sonia Silvestre, Sergio Pérez, J ennifer Pion, Ana Belén, Frank Reyes, Beethova Obas, Luis Díaz, José Antonio Rodríguez, Neo Ken, Sergio Vargas, Tambores de San Millán, Danny Rivera, Félix D’Oleo, Silvio Rodríguez, La Loba and Víctor Manuel.

Amaury Rodríguez

Library Research Assistant