“Sirena’s Gallery”is an independent feature film — with roots local to NYC — that follows a Salvadoran American woman’s struggle as an art gallery owner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The story centers on Sirena, recently widowed by a husband who died by suicide, who must quickly adapt to self-isolation, grief-induced visions and the virtual world of e-commerce. The film, which was available for streaming beginning on Aug. 21, was written and directed by Christine Sloan Stoddard of Brooklyn, and features several cast members local to NYC including Art Jones and Disnie Sebastien of the Bronx.
Sebastien, of the South Bronx, is glad she had the opportunity to be in a film during the pandemic. “When things shut down Christine [Sloan Stoddard] was one of the first who called me,” she said to the Bronx Times.
While she only had a small role in the film, Sebastien said the toughest part was filming virtually. However, she liked how the movie came out.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster, but it’s also amazingly edited,” she said. “This girl [Sloan Stoddard], she’s incredible. She’s also very inspiring.”
Sebastien, 26, grew up in the Caribbean and dreamed of making it big on the silver screen. She moved to NYC as a teenager, and in 2019 graduated from Lehman College with a degree in multimedia programming arts.
While she has only been in a few movies, she dabbles in many aspects of art, from acting and directing to video editing and house managing. According to Sebastien, the toughest part of being an actor is landing a role.
“You can have a million auditions and still not get something,” she said.
Coming from the small island of Dominica, she is grateful to have had the opportunities to work with people like actress Keke Palmer. She credits a lot of her success to the Urban Stages Theater in Manhattan, which she said has been instrumental in helping her make connections.
Looking to the future, Sebastien is determined to keep honing her craft and hopes to one day get her big break.
“It’s always a challenge, but I like a challenge,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Jones, who works with moving images, photography, sound and objects, had a cameo in the movie as an art collector. Being shuttered inside during the pandemic he jumped at the opportunity to act in a movie, even if it was filmed on Zoom. While he prefers to be behind the camera, Jones, 48, enjoyed the acting experience.
“I thought it was a nice challenge,” he said. “Christine [Sloan Stoddard] is a real organizer and intuitive director.”
Jones, of Pelham Parkway, grew up in the era of graffiti and hip-hop in the Bronx, so art was always around him. Another influence was his mom, who was passionate about music and singing and often took him to museums. “I’ve been creatively driven since I was a kid,” he said.
With the move having just been released, Jones hopes it gives people some entertainment during these troubling times.
“Now that it’s done, I can’t wait to tell everyone about it,” he said.
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.