RIT alumna contributes to 'FRIDA' documentary for Sundance Film Festival

Paula Ospina worked as assistant editor on the biographical documentary of artist Frida Kahlo

Image copyright Amazon MGM Studios

FRIDA, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25, was a project of RIT alumna Paula Ospina, who worked as assistant editor on the documentary.

RIT alumna Paula Ospina has paved the path toward one of the biggest professional achievements of her career so far—being an assistant editor for the documentary FRIDA, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25.

Ospina ‘17 (photojournalism) was part of the post-production crew for the documentary, which recounts the life of famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Ospina detailed the process of keeping everything organized to make the production of the documentary move along smoothly. She worked very closely with the film’s director and editor, Carla Gutierrez, and other members of the crew to prepare the film for the premiere.

At Sundance, FRIDA was lauded by film critics. Essence listed it as one of the five best movies at the festival and Vulture ranked it one of the 15 best movies seen at Sundance.

The team was comprised of people from the United States and Mexico, who worked together to bring Kahlo’s story onto the big screen. Despite spanning across borders, Ospina said the team was very tight knit.

“We had a team in Mexico, they were the animators, and then we had the composer who was out in Los Angeles. So, the team was spread out, but we always found a way to communicate with each other,” Ospina said. “I would say the best part was getting to meet the creatives. The teams for sound and color were also in Mexico. Getting to meet everyone and seeing how everyone could hone their own skills was incredible,” she said.

The production is mostly in Spanish, and it recounts the story of Kahlo’s life through her own diary entries and interviews. The movie is told largely through a voiceover combined with animation and gives a thorough the joys, fears, and other emotions that Kahlo expressed within her work.

Ospina worked on organizing the audio files from the temporary voiceover recordings as the team progressed through the edit. The archival and organization processes also included going through previous photographs of Kahlo and ensuring that all of her paintings were in the film’s Adobe Premiere files, which was done through scanning books.

Ospina worked as a photojournalist and volunteered with the Peace Corps before joining the production team of FRIDA. She said that RIT prepared her for some of the caution and curiosity needed to be successful within the news and documentary-editing industries.

“RIT prepared me in the sense of always being curious and asking questions. I think that has been a very big part of my professional career,” Ospina said.

She encouraged students to expand their network, get to know other people, and reach out to peers and alumni to find work in the editing industry. She also expressed the importance of learning storytelling techniques to create complex narratives.

FRIDA will be available for streaming through Amazon Prime Video on March 15.

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