Today marks the seven day point of the shoot. In fact, right around now exactly one week ago I was landing at Managua airport. In this period, I witnessed a birth in a public hospital belonging to a bankrupt health care system in a developing country, we then moved to a park where baby, mother and father spent the first night pretty much in the open air, then father Juan Carlos was so upset not to be able to provide for his family that he rented a room without knowing if he could pay for it and counting on his estranged dad to help them out, then they found out his dad wasn’t at all interested in him nor his first grandchild, after which Juan Carlos (after a bit of conflict with the mother of his daughter) decided to return to selling drugs to make money…
Two important thoughts after the first week:
1. I am feeling that the beginning of the film is shot. And that it’s strong material. The access I have been able to get into the daily lives of these three human beings is so unique, and it’s something I am so grateful for. Sujeylin keeps on acting as if I am doing her a favor, and I keep telling her it’s quite the reverse. And yet, a lot can still happen to make the story stronger. Next week they are travelling to Chontales to meet up with Sujeylin’s first daughter, Nasli, whom she hasn’t seen in a year. But also with her mother, whom she can’t be around ever since she (mother) allowed an uncle of hers to sexually abuse Sujeylin at age ten (yep, strong stuff here). And then there’s the reality of the rented room. They’ve rented that very same room in the past, but never stayed long. They simply couldn’t keep up the daily rent. From a story point of view, there are several very interesting angles which are developing right now which will ensure the documentary to remain interesting. And I still have to return in June, October and March of next year…
2. My second thought after one week of filming is that I constantly have to check in with myself to make sure I don’t abuse of the trust relationship I have with both Sujeylin and Juan Carlos. Except when they go for a pee, they’ve never told me not to be filming (despite having made agreements with them on this). Even when they are cross with each other, or openly disagreeing, they let us in. This makes me very cautious. There is a fine ethical line here which I am keeping my eye on. Is it fair to expect them to open up their lives to us, but not to pay the $1.50 they so desperately need to keep the room one more night? After all, they have the room so the baby can sleep with a roof over its head. A baby which today turned five days! And is still quite underweight.
Considering I have no real answer to the above questions, except for keeping the issue at the forefront of my thoughts, I will now move on to the crew member of the day: our driver and “pinche” Alvaro Aburto.
Alvaro comes with an old 4×4 and is available all hours of the day for as long as you want. He carries the crew, equipment, but also pregnant ladies and even newborns. As far as I can tell, he’s driven all over the country and knows every town, hill and road. He likes to talk about cars and girls and has a great sense of humor. I have never heard him say “no”.
Finally, today I spent an hour and a half on top of Managua’s tallest building (it’s no less than 10 stories… that’s what you get when you live in earthquake country) and I thought the heliport was so cool I had Armando, the camera assistant, take a picture of me.
Please excuse me for this self-indulgent moment. I am usually the one taking the pictures, so now I have one myself. And Armando will get his picture posted here tomorrow, as it’ll be his turn.
And finally finally, I realized that with all this talk of babies, I haven’t posted a recent photo. Let’s not forget what this project is about. And by the way, I found out what they’re going to call her. Here she is, Karla Asuliet Potosme Aguilar, oblivious to anything and everything happening around her and the very reason this film is being made.