Roof and Courtyard
220 36th Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11232
Take the D, N, or R trains to 36th Street
|8:30 PM||Live Music by Matthew Stoneman|
|10:30PM||Q&A with filmmaker Aaron I. Naar and subject Matthew Stoneman (Mateo)|
|11:30PM||After Party sponsored by New Amsterdam Spirits|
Mateo (Aaron I. Naar | 85 min.)
At a nearly empty open mic night in Los Angeles, people sit on the floor listening to an unassuming, redheaded man with a guitar awkwardly introduce himself for far too long. For the last 13 years this man, known simply as Mateo, has been living and working as America’s first white mariachi singer, playing guitar and singing in Spanish at Mexican restaurants and private events across the city. However peculiar his profession may sound, it is nowhere near as strange as his transformation from Matthew Stoneman, a New Hampshire born pop musician with an Elton John sound. In the mid-90s, with his personal music struggling to find an audience, Matthew took to a life of crime, and was eventually incarcerated for five years in a maximum-security state penitentiary for robbery. During his stint he struck up a friendship with a group of Mexican musicians in the prison recess yard who soon taught him hundreds of Spanish-language classics. He emerged as the mysterious, angelic-voiced Mateo.
For the last four years, director Aaron I. Naar has watched the enigmatic Mateo weave a strange path from the street corners of Los Angeles to the revered recording studios in Havana, Cuba. On the brink of completing an album of original songs in Havana, Mateo struggles to keep his demons in check, which seem all too plausible in derailing his goal. Shockingly candid onscreen, Mateo is revealed as complicated man living disparate lives – a simple, mostly solitary existence in Los Angeles and a self-indulgent, almost destructive one in Cuba. Mateo captures, with a piercing gaze, a portrait of a troubled artist living with a checkered past, fraught with poor management, Cuban women, and family turmoil as he moves towards a still unclear future.
Mateo will be on hand for a performance of bolero songs (romantic Latin tunes) prior to the film and will also conclude the evening by serenading audiences throughout Industry City.
- Jeffrey Bowers
Aaron I. Naar is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. He is a Film Independent and IFP Documentary Lab alumnus and recipient of the Pacific Pioneer Fund. A graduate of Vassar College, Naar currently works at Editree Inc., directing documentary-style commercials for clients such as Google and Expedia.
Naar’s first short documentary, LOS HOMBRES DEL LAGO, (THE MEN OF THE LAKE) premiered at HotDocs in 2008 and went on to screen in several hundred venues across South America as part of the international documentary series Planet.Move.
MATEO is Naar’s first feature film.