One of my goals since the beginning of this film would be that the buzos featured in the film would get some amount of public recognition. When RDOC decided to screen a work-in-progress of the film in Santo Domingo, it was the perfect time to bring out the buzos down to the capital and include them in the session. Hunting them down yet again – I hadn’t been there in two years – was its own special time. I had tried to send one of my “helpers” ahead of me to search for them to no avail (both major characters I was looking for had moved), so we had to go in there and do it on our own. I had forgotten that they go by several names and that with me they always use their official name… for example Arisleyda actually goes by Yobi in the community. If you ask for Arisleyda, no one knows who you’re talking about unless they’re family members.
Long story short is that we found them. I didn’t go searching for everyone for reasons I’ll go into another time. Pablo, his wife Maria, and Arisleyda and her family are what I kept it to for this trip – just bringing them (4 people total) was a bit overwhelming. Money for the bus tickets had to be given the night before because I wasn’t sure that money would make it through the week (and we couldn’t drive them for other reasons, so they had to take the bus, and the bus company didn’t do will call, so they had to buy the tickets directly). They almost missed the bus because the guagua to get to the bus took forever… but they made it finally. We waited to pick them up a few hours south. When they stepped off the bus I almost didn’t recognize them – it was the first time I had ever seen them dressed up in their Sunday best. Arisleyda (who is missing a limb) looked gorgeous in heels and a pretty blouse… I realized that dressing up humanized them in some way (even to me). Pablo was acting strangely from the start – morose and almost resentful – but the other three informed me he was just really nervous. I had been so focused on just getting them to the session that I had forgotten what the emotional impact might be on them.
We arrive at the session and they are warmly greeted by those in the know; they started to relax. After the session was over, we stood up to do a Q&A and get feedback on the film; they came with me up to the stage. All were nervous and could barely speak at all, save for Arisleyda who really stole the show. Well-spoken, clear, articulate, impassioned, emotional… she was amazing. At one point, one of the audience members said, “You may not believe this, but you have all become my heroes.” The entire room clapped.
We have decided from this cut that it needs to be cut further down. At one time I thought this film would serve best as a feature but it is clearly an incredibly impactful short. A hard decision but one that ultimately will be strongest for the subject matter.