Spotlight sandra portal-andreau for Circa, selected film and filmmaker of the Chroma Art Film Festival by Rainbow Oasiiis and Superblue Miami

The Voice of Tomorrow: An Interview with Sandra Portal-Andreu, Director of ‘CIRCA’

The world around us is changing rapidly and climate change is at the forefront of this transformation. Yet, whose voices are leading the discussion? In her film ‘CIRCA’, Sandra Portal-Andreu lends a platform to the youngest voices of Miami, sharing their visions for the city’s future amidst the pressing concerns of climate change.

Portal-Andreu, a Miami native of Cuban/Colombian descent, is a multidisciplinary artist, choreographer, and filmmaker, whose work is deeply embedded in community, social practice, and identity. She has been recognized by numerous institutions, including the Miami-Dade County Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Live Arts Miami, and PBS’ Filmmaker Project. Her latest creation, ‘CIRCA’, was conceived during the pandemic, capturing the imaginations and concerns of 37 Miami children, aged 7-18, about their city in the year 2050.

The film shares both grim and hopeful visions, emphasizing that it’s high time we listened to our next generation. From stories of coastal flooding to rising heat in western areas, ‘CIRCA’ gives an intimate glimpse into the reality Miami’s children foresee and the pressing need for action.

The creation process for ‘CIRCA’ was not without challenges, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Portal-Andreu transformed these hurdles into opportunities, conducting one-on-one interviews over Zoom and collecting children’s drawings, which eventually became the film’s storyboard. She partnered with animator Brenna Verner and composers Afrobeta to create the final film and score, making ‘CIRCA’ a true community-driven work.

Looking ahead, Portal-Andreu hopes that audiences, particularly at the Chroma Art Film Festival, will take heed of the children’s messages. She explains, “Listen to the kids! They are not blind. We owe it to them to take proactive measures to help resolve this issue.”

Her commitment to using film as a tool for social and environmental awareness aligns perfectly with the mission of the Chroma Art Film Festival, which she praises for providing an inclusive platform and acting as a catalyst for change.

As we look towards the future, one thing is certain: our actions today will shape the world of tomorrow. Through ‘CIRCA’, Portal-Andreu reminds us that it’s time to listen to our youngest voices – after all, it’s their future at stake.


* How has your style within this genre transformed over time?
Since the making of CIRCA, my work is incorporating 360 VR. I am in the middle of completing a short film that is based on our relationship to the land and the traditions shared by the Miccosoukee people. The film is heavily influenced by the environment and nature and our responsibility has stewards for future generations.

* In what ways has Miami, with its vibrant culture and diverse community, influenced your work? Can you identify elements of your film that were shaped by this influence?

CIRCA was made by future Miamians for current Miamians. It’s a call to action by the youth so that perhaps the elders in power listen. As a mother of two, I was inspired to give a platform to youth voices on this pertinent topic. I was curious to hear their thoughts and see their ideas manifest their visions into drawings. In addition, I wanted to hear from as many children throughout the county to see how climate change is affecting them. It was interesting to see how children living near the coast were experiencing flooding, while children who lived out West, were experiencing rising heat. The result of this work is an imprint of this generations visions of Miami in the year 2050. Both heart-wrenching and encouraging, CIRCA is real, raw, and very Miami.

*Has Miami’s unique milieu inspired any particular scenes or narratives in your film? 
The children did an impressionable job to highlight certain spaces throughout Miami. From Bayside to the Everglades, we witness these landscapes through their eyes.

*Could you guide us through the creation process of your film, from the initial concept to the finished product? 
Back in 2020, I was selected to be a Resident Artists for the Live Arts Miami: LALA Residency. Its focus was on creating eco-driven work. My initial inspiration was to create a film that asked children to share their thoughts on climate change and how they envisioned Miami in the year 2050.At the time, my plan was to hold roundtable discussions with children of varying ages from 7-18 years, in different neighborhoods throughout Miami-Dade County in partnership with ProjectArt Miami and the Miami-Dade Public Library System. But then COVID happened and during lockdowns, I decided to do one-on-one interviews with children. Live Arts helped me recruit students and I also reached out to my network of mothers. My goal was to try and reach children from as many neighborhoods as possible, in order to get a diverse pool of experiences. Each zoom lasted from 20-40 minutes and each youth was asked to create a drawing inspired by the conversation we had. The drawings were mailed or dropped off. I would even coordinate pickups to make sure that each child’s drawing was included.I was able to gather 37 in total and those works would become the storyboard. I spent hours listening to each interview, editing to find the essence of each message.Once I had gathered all the information, I teamed up with animator, Brenna Verner, and composers, Afrobeta, to create the final film and score. CIRCA was the work of a collective. Families, children, artists, and organizations all contributed to their time, energy, and talent for this film. That’s why this film is such a community-engaged, – driven, and -inspired work. I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. 

*Did you encounter any significant challenges during the making of your film, and if so, how did you overcome them? 

* Can you share a memorable anecdote or a pivotal moment from the process of creating your film? 
There were so many moments that I could recall from each interview that left me inspired. I do remember having a pretty- lengthy chat with one child who was super passionate about this project and the subject matter. He was 11 at the time and had so much to say. I was in awe of his understanding of what he was witnessing around him and they way he could articulate it without question. I used one of his quotes in the film, “Nothing is balanced. Like No Joke!”. He wasn’t lying. He was being truthful and I think for us as parents, it’s difficult to hear these “hard truths” from children.

* What do you hope audiences at the Chroma Art Film Festival will take away from your film? 
Listen to the kids! They are not blind. We owe it to them to take proactive measures to help resolve this issue. 

* Why did you decide to submit your film to the Chroma Art Film Festival, and how has the submission process been for you? 
I was interested in CAFF’s mission to being an inclusive platform and catalyst for change. Since the beginning, I always envisioned CIRCA being a catalyst for action and being presented in the expansive space of SuperBlue. I couldn’t think of a better place to share this work.

*What role do you feel film festivals like Chroma Art play in supporting and shaping the future of filmmaking, especially in Miami? 
CAFF provides an opportunity for experimental filmmakers to present their work in an immersive space. There aren’t many festivals in Miami that share this vision.  In addition, it’s exciting, humbling, and encouraging to see a large space such as SuperBlue collaborating with the nonprofit, Rainbow Oasiiis, to support and enrich the community, artists, storytellers, and filmmaking. 

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