Isabel Barton (New York and Venezuela) Founding Board Member

Founding Board Member

Isabel Barton is a New York State resident Venezuelan born filmmaker and photographer. In 1972 she was the first woman to be awarded the Venezuelan National Award of Photography. Beginning in 1979, under mentorship of master photographer Ezra Stoller, her architectural photographs were published in major magazines, and her portraits of artists, including Philip Glass, Keith Haring and Jesús Soto, in catalogues, posters and magazines internationally. During those years, 1979-2001, her photographs and silkscreens showed in galleries and museums throughout the US, including the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Jersey, the Center for Inter American Relations, New York City, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, Georgia.

Isabel’s segue into film began with screenwriting. She has written five feature length screenplays.

In 1989 she heard the intricate story of American aviator Jimmie Angel who discovered Angel Falls in 1933 and decided to write a screenplay about him. In 1991, while doing research for the screenplay, Isabel traveled west and interviewed Angel’s son Rolan and brother Clyde both residing in California. She then visited Angel Falls in the Kamarata Valley, located in the Venezuelan Amazon. There she interviewed José Manuel Ugarte, a Pemón, adopted son of Angel. This experience began her love for the Pemón people and for their land.

In 1996, Isabel joined Karen Angel as a founding board member of the Jimmie Angel Historical Project, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to researching and providing accurate information about Jimmie Angel and his associates.

In 2005, she joined Paul Graham Stanley and Antonio Volpe-Pasini to found first Angel Conservation, a not-for-profit organization devoted to the preservation of indigenous people and their habitat and then and then Fundación Etnika, its sister organization in Venezuela. Angel Conservation and Fundación Etnika’s both endeavor to rescue the cultural identity and help restore sustainability to the Kamarakoto people of the Venezuelan Amazon.

Beginning in 2004 Isabel worked closely with Kamarakoto Hortensia Berti in the filming of THE MAKING OF A CHIEF, a documentary. The Chief was Alejo Calcaño, who created the unwritten constitution of the Pemón people, of which the Kamarakoto is one of three tribes. He was the first indigenous people’s representative to the Venezuelan government in the 1930s. His visionary teachings and tenets were disappearing with the elders. As direct descendent of Calcaño, Berti represented her community and received unprecedented and groundbreaking information that constitutes a treasure of humanity.

In 2008, Isabel joined director Mariana Hellmund to produce a feature film shot in Choroní, Venezuela. Titled “The Aspern Papers”, it is a modern day adaptation of the Henry James novella of the same title. Barton co-wrote and co-produced with Hellmund.

Isabel's work in film intends to portray Latin American stories within a background of history and culture instead of the usual barrio stereotypes, as well as the stories of women who assume traditionally male roles.

She is currently writing a true story of Venezuelan Josefina Chirino, MD, who discovers she is the direct descendent of legendary Jose Leonardo Chirino, a zambo (part Indigenous Venezuelan / part African Venezuelan) slave, precursor of the abolition of slavery in Venezuela. In a serendipitous meeting, Josefina is introduced to Eduvigis Garcia—direct descendent of the plantation owner where Chirino and his wife were slaves, and whom Chirino killed while leading a 1976 groundbreaking insurrection of slaves. The meeting forces the two women into an exploration of their shared pasts, which brings unexpected repercussions to their present lives.

Isabel Barton lives in New York state and Venezuela.