On Saturdays an evangelical organization does a bus route to pick up street children, whom they take to a place of worship outside of the city. There, they attend a service of between 2-3 hours and then are given lunch. Sujeylin was used to go there and today was planning on doing the same in order to present her baby to the congregation.
Both she and we had, independently of one another, requested permission to film this event. She had gotten it, and so had we but late last night this permission was suddenly withdrawn. Juan Carlos and Sujeylin found out today and asked them why, but there was no answer. “Decision from above,” apparently. Above?? Sujeylin was already on the bus but was so angry at this sudden change of attitude, she got off again. Baby Karla, oblivious as always to the trouble she is stirring up (!), was quietly sleeping in her mother’s arms.
The bus left without them, but we offered to drive them to the church and then leave so that they could enjoy the day without our presence. And with no further trouble. When the dark clouds had blown over, they decided to go for this option.
Evangelism is growing strongly in this predominantly catholic territory. American style TV preachers, miracles of healing, worshippers in trance during hours and hours of religious service… and money, lots of money going around.
You can think what you want of exchanging church time for a Saturday lunch for the homeless. Sujeylin seems to get comfort out of it. So why not? But what do they have to hide? Why no cameras? If someone goes to baptize their child, isn’t the typical camera-owning-good-hearted-uncle allowed to film either? Sujeylin was excited about her presenting her baby to the congregation being filmed – there being a record of it – and very disappointed when it couldn’t happen. What’s more, we have filmed in overcrowded police cells, poor and very dangerous neighborhoods, the park with its community of homeless dwellers, a public hospital short of funds… and we have always been received with open arms. Except in one place, to date.
So for us it was a very short day which started at 9 and finished at 10.
Which leaves me with the crew member of the day: camera assistant and sound recordist Armando Moreira, who yesterday, at age 46, became a grandfather (quite a common age here to reach such a respectable position).
Armando is old-school, like Martha. He started working in film at age 16 and today, 30 years later, is the very best you can get in Nicaragua in terms of a camera assistant and, what he likes best, sound recordist. He’s the kind of guy you’d wish you could have around all the time, for he thinks of everything you don’t and is totally solution oriented. What’s more, he’s calm and reserved on set, for when you want to feel small and unnoticed. Which is most of the time. They call him “El Chele” because when he started, he was quite white and skinny. Foreigners, gringos, Europeans and Americans, we are all Cheles (of course he isn’t, but it seems like he looked like one – these days he sports a full-time sun tan and respectable belly). “Chele” is comparable to “Giri” in Spain.
With some time off, I had lunch today with fellow Dutchman and filmmaker Stef Biemans, who lives in Managua and works for Dutch as well as Nicaraguan TV here. A great guy whom I met last October at the Dutch ambassador’s residence. He originally studied Journalism in Holland and was taught video technique by my long-time teenage friend Johan Banis, and he also knows (of) another Dutch friend of mine in Spain: Bart van Hattum in Granada. It’s a VERY small world!
Today was a preview for tomorrow: a real free day. But I’ll write, obviously.