Started shooting!

I haven’t written for a while. The challenges we encountered in Guatemala made me close down the blog for a few months, allowing me to restructure the website while continuing to advance the project. Sorry for the delay.

Briefly, here’s a rundown of things that have happened:

  • I went to the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam at the end of November to generate more support for the film. Met lots of broadcasters, and their response was unanimous: interesting, but show me some footage first!
  • During December, Morena’s visits (she is the local researcher) with Sujeylin became more frequent, and little by little, through the reports I got back by email, the latter was starting to become the natural first choice for the documentary. She has always been my favorite.
  • Early December we were notified to have been chosen to pitch the project before a group of broadcasters during the Financing Forum of DocsBarcelona.
  • We paid for an ultrasound for Sujeylin (a whopping US$ 10!), which result was an unexpectedly late probable birth: 23 March. She (and hence I) thought that she was five months at the end of October when we met, guessing the birth would happen around the middle of February.
  • A few days later, Morena wrote that Juan Carlos, Sujeylin’s partner, had been arrested. He was found with drugs on him, supposedly enough to be considered a dealer. Sujeylin’s explanation was that he was trying to raise money for a trip to Chontales, the area she was born, to spend newyears with her mother and her first daughter, Nasli.

The later possible date of birth, the arrest of her boyfriend and the possibility they may go to Chontales if he is released, suddenly created an incredible urge in me to be present while all this was happening. Having a look at flights (remember, it was holiday season), I found a reasonably priced return from 28/12 to 4/1, exactly a week. I booked the 23rd, confirmed the 24th and four days later I was on my way…

One of my fears remains that I might lose Sujeylin. This already happened to me once with another protagonist (as loyal readers might remember), so one of the reasons to go now was to start shooting material and through that, turn the project into a reality for her as well. Hopefully this will result in her feeling more involved, and keeping us in mind when she makes important decisions (as in: calling us when it gets interesting, for instance a premature birth or an eventual trip/move to Chontales). Other reasons were to shoot a much-needed trailer, also in light of the upcoming financing forum DocsBarcelona, and to take more pictures for the Barcelona exposition at the end of January. Reason enough… (and yet, at the time a very instinctive decision).

Bottom line: I am currently waiting for my flight back to Madrid on a lay-over in San José (Costa Rica) with about 4 hours of video and an hour and a half of sound-only interviews in my bag. It has been such an intense week! I’ll write about it day by day in the following seven posts.

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