Abo So, directed by Juan Francisco Pardo of Aruba, is a musical story about young love. Tatiana is a progressive young woman who moves to her aunt’s house with her family. In this new neighbourhood, she meets Santiago, a young man of Latin descent whom she clashes with. However, when they reveal certain truths about themselves to each other they fall in love, and Santiago promises Tatiana that for him, forever it will be abo so, only you.
The film examines identity and how the different ethnicities in Aruba interact and handle prejudice. Tatiana’s family does not want her to see Santiago because he is Latin, and her brother offers Santiago’s mother money on the condition that he does not see Tatiana anymore. He complies, sacrificing his love for the benefit of his family, but he does not tell Tatiana the truth immediately. This causes intense pain for the both of them, pain which they translate to the audience through plaintive song.
This modern-day love story features the unforgettable music of the celebrated Padu del Caribe, Aruba’s most eminent musician. So for any romantic who loves musicals (like myself!), the atmosphere of the film will feel quite magical. It was very refreshing to see a musical love story in this year’s Festival, as our modern mentalities tend to be filled with cynicism about things such as love.
During the Q&A with ttff editorial director Jonathan Ali, Pardo revealed that he really wanted to pay tribute to Padu del Caribe with the film.
“I think that the most important thing here was to do something with the music of Padu del Caribe. He is really beloved in Aruba and I always wanted to do a musical.”
He also spoke about wanting to show Arubans how important film can be to their culture. One of his intentions was make the people of Aruba appreciate their culture more and get deeper into their folklore and history.
“It is very difficult to make a film in Aruba because we don’t have anything like a film [commission] there and they don’t believe in film,” he said. “That is why it was important for me to make this, to let them see this that you can tell something with images from the culture.”
Ali asked Pardo about the actual filming process.
“We have preparation of one year and all the actors did it for free,” he said. “We did it like a workshop. First they had to do an audition, and the ones who make it go to do a workshop, and then we do casting and those two [leads] were cast, and then we went to a recording studio, and we have the preparation of one month and then we shot the entire film in 10 days due to budget constraints.”
He added, “We tried to make the most of the time as people had to take the 10 days off work. With a little money and a lot of passion we tried to make this film.”
Ali commended Pardo on his effort saying, “You’ve made a very beautiful production. It was well done with the limited resources you had.”
The film, which features the work of cinematographer Miquel Galofré, who also has a film (Songs of Redemption) in the Festival this year, was completed two hours before the scheduled premiere in Aruba back in July. It screened to a sold out theatre.
The audience was also curious to find out how the film’s musical magician, Padu del Caribe, reacted to it.
“On the night of the premiere we had two rooms sold out and Padu [who is 93] was there, and he was so quiet that we thought he was sleeping but at the end of the last song Padu screamed out “Yeah!” really hard in the cinema, and it was so intense because it was so quiet, and everyone started clapping.”
Pardo is very endearing and so is his movie. This is a great step for film in Aruba.
Red White and Black: A Sports Odyssey is the only film about sport in this year’s Festival. Since 1948 T&T has won 18 Olympic medals, and this film documents and celebrates this remarkable achievement. From the eclectic soundtrack to the pace of the film to those really emotional moments that allow you to connect with those on screen—the film was extremely well done and kept audiences engaged for a full 87 minutes.
Directed by Robert Dumas, a New York-based T&T filmmaker, the film begins with the story of our first Olympic medal, won by weightlifter Rodney Wilkes in 1948. It continues to trace our history right up to London 2012, our country’s greatest Olympics showing ever, with 31 athletes competing in six different sports. The film is narrated by four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon, and features interviews with several of our athletes, including Hasely Crawford, Richard Thompson, George Bovell and Kelly-Ann Baptiste.
The film is very well structured (full disclosure: I had the privilege of working on it). Dumas is a formidable story teller, producing the script with writer Peta Bain. As the title suggests, the film is a true journey. And the audience was able to embark on that odyssey with the athletes, who describe their origins, struggles and the eventual vindication they found on the podium wearing their country’s colours of red, white and black.
Most discovered their talent playing in the schoolyard, taking a friend up on a dare or—in the case of Rodney Wilkes—cutting grass in the fields and lifting and carrying the loads above his head.
It is hard not get inspired after hearing these champions speak. As Dumas said in the Q&A period, he felt like he could do anything after making the film. After watching this film, I for one am walking a bit taller, feeling very proud to be part of the red, white and black. This is a must see at the film festival.
You can catch Red, White and Black: A Sports Odyssey again on 01 October, 1:00 P.M. at MovieTowne, POS.
Caption: Robert Dumas (left) at the Q&A session for Red, White and Black, with Bruce Paddington, ttff founder and director