Just received my mail? (10 historical facts)

If you’re new to the blog and this is your first time here, allow me to give you a little info before I start writing about our daily adventures in Nicaragua. Ten historical moments in the making of Hijos de la Calle:

1. I first visited Guatemala in the spring of 2003 to research another project. Going out on the streets, I met several homeless babies and toddlers as well as pregnant teenagers.

2. That summer I start working on an idea to make a film focusing on second-generation street children. In November I travel back to Guatemala with Uruguayan producer Virginia Hinze to research the project.

3. After six months of hard work, we aren’t able to raise the funds to make the film. Poverty and human rights were not a priority with international broadcasters in those days. The exception is the Belgian program “Lichtpunt”, who came on board but we had to let their letter of commitment expire.

4. The project doesn’t leave me alone, I keep reading and investigating, and in the fall of 2007 after having been to the Perm International Film Festival in Russia and having met a bunch of very inspiring people, decide to give it another go.

5. Lichtpunt is still in, and I am able to secure a grant from the Spanish International Development Agency. Although together that only makes up for 25% of the budget, I am convinced that if I start shooting, it’ll be easier to raise the rest of the money (see “donate” button in side bar!!).

6. In July of 2008 I travel back to Guatemala in order to look for a protagonist – a pregnant teenage girl living on the streets. I meet five or six through Casa Alianza and a local NGO called Mojoca, and choose a girl called Ines presented to me by the latter. I speak with her at length about the project, and return to Spain thinking I’ll be back in October for the birth of her child – the starting point of a documentary which follows mother and baby for one year.

7. Two weeks before the shoot: the very NGO who presented me to Ines changes 180 degrees and decides to work against the project. They take Ines in to one of their refuges, and start sending press releases as well as lodging complaints with the government. To date I still do not understand why, although I have learned a thing or two about rivalry between NGO’s since having started this project. A national row starts between various organizations, including the government, over which I have no control… (strange turning point, eh?)

8. I am forced to move the project to Nicaragua, where I travel to in October of 2008. I can write off the costs incurred in Guatemala and start again. After a week I find the current protagonist: Sujeylin Aguilar. I realize that this country is a lot safer and Sujeylin more expressive, so after all there was a reason to incur delay and extra expense???

9. Sujeylin’s partner (and father of her child) is imprisoned in December 2008. I decide to return to spend a week working with her on the film – a very useful exercise for both of us. I end up spending New Year’s eve in Managua – an unforgettable experience if only for the location. I also take hundreds of photographs for my first ever exhibition later on that month in Barcelona.

10. This coming Friday (the 13th!) we travel to Nicaragua for a month to finally start shooting. The baby, a girl, should be born by the end of March. We are planning to return three more times over the course of the next year.

Now you’re up to date. For details, see the archives. Please check back often to stay informed.

Finally, a picture of Sujeylin while waiting to be let into jail to visit her boyfriend Juan Carlos. This is from  January – he’s free now, although has had some other trouble since. See my previous post…

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