31 December – day 3

Today was going to be a very busy day. And an interesting one for that matter.

I don’t want to use on-camera interviews in the film, but I do want to hear Sujeylin talk and comment on her own life and that of the baby. So I decided a while ago to do that through voice over. The idea is that Sujeylin talks about the things we are seeing on the screen, the events which are happening, etc. As such, today I wanted to start by doing some sound recordings, in interview form, which were going to take place at the NGO where Alejandro works. We agreed to all meet there at 10AM.

Maybe it was a little early on in the shoot to ask Sujeylin to do this. She wasn’t as candid as she usually is, and kind of tuned into her “have-pity-voice”. Too serious for me. Besides, the location was too noisy. We talked for about 45 minutes, which I recorded, and which will probably serve as experience for both of us.

The important thing today however was a visit to Juan Carlos at the police station. Normally they are Thursdays, but tomorrow being New Years, family visits had been moved to Wednesday. Again food had to be bought, and around 1PM we arrived at the police station, waiting around at an outside patio until we’d be let in.

It was quite an experience. There were lots of people, all waiting until some small door would open. First, everyone had to sign up and show their ID. Sujeylin doesn’t have an ID, but was able to convince them they’d let her in anyway (she had in the past). Besides, considering we were there following her, I think the police was trying to do their best to cooperate with us. It was a very lively affair, with people coming and going trying to sell food and water, and Sujeylin having various conversations with people. And me running after her with the camera the whole time. This is where I first realized she’s a very social person, easy to make contact with strangers.

After more than an hour of waiting around, we were finally let in. Half of the families were led to a large outdoor cage (maybe 15×15 meter, completely enclosed and with a direct connection to the cell blocks). Again, waiting. Finally, prisoners started to be led into the huge cage. After a short while, Juan Carlos showed up and was able to talk to Sujeylin for about 45 minutes. It seemed a little matter-of-fact to me, with him telling her over and over not to worry, that he’s fine, and to pray a lot. She had brought him food, and also some clothes he had asked for.

All in all, the visit was such an intense experience that I shot enough material for a short film which could be called “The Visit”. It’s a nice start, going for a week and coming home with a short film…

Obviously, tonight was New Year’s Eve, and poor Martha felt obliged (and hopefully delighted, I don’t know) to invite me to her family home for dinner and some firework. It was a very special evening, both because there were lots of very nice people and I was still buzzing from today’s accomplishments. And still a little sleepy, I have to admit.

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