EVERYTHING is going well, except the most important thing: finding the future mother. Yesterday and the day before I spent a lot of time with Casa Alianza, first with its director and the person in charge of communication, and later with a team of street workers who took me out to meet people. They were all saying: “ah, you should have been here six months ago, we had five births at the same time!”
I have been saying that it would be very difficult to find the right person, and even more difficult to ensure she sticks with it for the full year. But I think it will be even more difficult than I thought just to find the person.
Few of the young women I was taken along to meet, fit my brief. The first is only 13 years old, she is very likely to be pregnant but still not confirmed medically, and she is extremely withdrawn. This could be a problem, since it’s the protagonist who has to be able to “carry” the film for the full 80-or-so minutes. Her case is however impressive, if only for her age. She was also completely drugged when we were with her, so it was hard to get anything coherent out of her. The next was 20 years old, it’s her second child, and she gave her first child up to her mother who lives in the slums. This is likely to happen again with her second child. Good for the child, not good for the film. The third is 18 years old, she is three months pregnant and might be an option, although her sisters have had children (they are orphans and all five of them live on the streets) and have given their children up to the grandmother who also lives in the slums. She is an outgoing character and if she decides to keep her child with her on the street, she may be a good option. And finally there’s another girl I am hoping to meet today or Monday… which is another challenge: time flies!
I think I will try to talk to 2-3 young women, and let there be a natural selection. The director of Casa Alianza recommended this as well.
So, am I trying to make a documentary about something which hardly exists? I am not. Just in the few hours I was taken around, I saw many young children as part of the groups that live on the streets. The youngest one is this girl, who lives on the Central Square and is 40 days old:
I also met other babies (result of the baby-boom six months ago) and some other 2-3 year olds. And then again, Guatemala is only one of dozens of countries where children are born and raised on the streets, among the constant presence of drugs (the smell of solvent sticks with you all day!), petty crime and prostitution (I insist we don’t judge, these children have no other means of living and the state is not that interested in taking care of them either).
I came to Guatemala with a list of objectives, which all have been met save the above (likely to always remain a weak point in this whole process). The rest is going well. I met with the local executive producer here, and he put me in touch with some more people who can get involved from here. One is another producer, from Zaragoza (in Spain) who has lived here for ten years and has an affinity and interest in films with social issues. I am talking some more with him on Sunday, because he may be a good local partner who can continue the work I am now starting up. I am also to meet a sound recordist, and a composer. One of my desires is to have music composed by a Guatemalan, and if I have to believe Robert (local producer) I am to meet the Alberto de Iglesias of Central America this weekend. Exciting!
In other developments: I have been invited by the Dutch ambassador to come and see him to talk about the project, which is happening this morning. One of the reasons for this meeting is for our security when we start shooting: I would like them to be informed of our movements so that, in case we get in trouble, we can call for their support without much further explanation. Although I have already figured out that the issue of security isn’t as complicated as I was made to believe back in Spain.
And am enjoying my time in the hostel, talking to a colourful bunch of international travellers (who tend to stay one or two days) and American research students (who are here for one or two months). And of course the wonderful owners, Ana and Joe (both very hospitable and helpful persons and, as a bonus, terrific cooks).