look & listen

Tiny steps of progress

There’s no doubt in my mind that the next three months will seem to go by very slowly. It’s a long time and a lot can happen.

I had been wondering whether I left Guatemala with everything organized the way I wished. A week later I got an update from Casa Alianza about Inés with some photos. All is well. They are also organizing some other things, and Alberto, the local producer, is already prepping the shoot for October. A good feeling to have so many people supporting the project hands-on in the city.

For my part, I am talking to Iberia to see if we can get some sponsorship for the flights, to some TV stations for extra financing (we all know how “easy” that is in Spain – haha), to a producer who will raise more funds in the U.S., etc etc. Also to Steffie about the cameras, and the technical and style choices we’re going to have to start making. Ah, and I made a one-pager explaining the basics of the project.

I also met the founders of Gaudium Paidos (see link in sidebar). This is a new ONG who are going to Guatemala next week to set up a desintoxication-unit for street children, something which seems to be the missing step to successfully rescuing youngsters off the streets.

Thanks everyone who have written to me personally with very thoughtful and long mails. I really love the idea that people are getting engaged. Feel free to write on the site itself as well, so it can be shared.

For those of you in the Northern hemisphere: have a nice summer! For the others: have a nice winter!!

Last day’s thoughts

Something funny is going on here. After spending a week roaming the streets of this city, and meeting with the NGO’s, I am starting to think that these organizations are keeping the children on the streets! There are so many NGO’s working with children, and since the evangelization of this country (many catholics are turning hard-core protestants), the churches have also gotten involved. Children who sleep in the street know that organization 1 will bring breakfast by 9.30AM, then number 2 will take them out to bake cakes at 10AM (lunch included), number 3 may come along around 1PM to hand out condoms (Casa Alianza alone hands out 190.000 condoms a year), and then dinner is served at such and such shelter…

Ok, I am being facetious. But these children and teenagers are being catered to in a way that there’s no incentive to get off the streets. It’s the perfect combination: the ultimate freedom (the very reason many are not able to hold out very long in the rule-ridden shelters), they can come and go when they want, take whatever substance they feel like, and no one will tell them what to do when, and on the other hand a constant flow of basic necessities.

I was surprised to find out that my newly found friend Ines takes computer classes once a week. Yet, she sleeps in the open air on a lice-infested dirty mattress under the canopy of a motorcycle-shop. The MOJOCA people told me she could write emails to me if I wanted (at their day facility) to tell me first hand how the pregnancy is coming along.

I am having a hard time comprehending some of this.

Anyway, I went out on the streets today with Casa Alianza. They wanted to present me to yet another pregnant young woman, but we couldn’t find her. I have come to the conclusion however that deciding on the second option for the film, can wait until the last moment. I know who’s out there and when they are supposed to give birth. That feels like it’s enough for now.

Right, am off back to Spain tomorrow on another one of those long flights. But this blog has only just started. I’ll keep writing on developments on production, financing and the start of the shoot, which I think will be on the 15th of October, all the way to the premiere in 2010. So stay tuned.

A few pictures

One more thing – a few pictures from today (click to enlarge):

The girl left of me is La Chispa, whom I mentioned a few posts back. She is four months pregnant. It’s her second child. Her first one was taken from her, most likely by Social Services. Like the others in the pictures, she lives in the group with Ines.

Notice how I am holding onto my bag as if my life depends on it?  🙂

The big challenge

Today I went back to see Ines to talk to her some more. Alberto came along with me – the Spanish producer who has lived here for 8 years – so he could meet her. It’s him and the people from MOJOCA that have to keep in touch with her, and report back on how things are going.

Even though I am very happy to have found what seems to be a perfect character for the film, there are still a few very fragile elements to it. One is that, to date, I don’t really have an alternative. What if Ines decides to leave the street and move back in with her father? What if she decides to move to one of the shelters? Again: better for her probably, but not good for the film.

Another issue is the date of the birth. She told me that the doctor said it would happen between 15 Oct and 5 Nov. That seems a pretty wide date range, but Ines is a moderate drug user and the birth of her child may well come sooner.

One great thing we spoke about today is that she wants to go and present the baby to her father whom she hasn’t seen in 1,5 years, and in the seven years she’s been on the street only a few times. I told her we could go together, an idea she seemed to like. A reunion of father and daughter would make a terrific scene in the film. That is, if her father still lives in the city. Last the MOJOCA people heard he was planning on moving to El Salvador.

This film is going to be full of surprises. When we made The Endless Caravan, I also researched for a long time and then wrote a pretty elaborate script. The film turned out 95% like the script! In this case, I doubt we will be able to plan much. Things change from one moment to the next, and flexibility and adaptability are key words here. It is the way I have approached this third visit to Guatemala, and it seems to have worked…

In other news, considering tomorrow is my last day here, I went out to buy some presents for my three girls. Ah yes, and yesterday I met the composer, which was a very good meeting as well. He may be the right guy. Am still listening to some CD’s he gave me.

A thought: Roberto, the owner of the local production company, invited Alberto and myself to a pretty hefty sushi-session for lunch. Right after that, the visit with Ines and her group took place. The sushi was still swimming in my belly and leaving me with that distinct feeling of a truly unequal world. No doubt we could have fed the whole 10-headed group of street kids for a few days with what we spent on the sushi for the three of us. But what’s it gonna be? Dried noodles in an old paint can, or sushi, for everyone???

A short trailer

I used my quiet, rainy and lazy Sunday to cut together some of the images Ines allowed me to shoot of her. Have a look and a listen:


Meet Ines

I am elated! Yesterday someone from MOJOCA introduced me to Inés Gomez, a 19-year old pregnant woman who would make a perfect protagonist for the film. And even better, she seems interested in the project and willing to cooperate.

I shot some video of her group, and I’ll try to post some later today. But for now, here’s a picture: