Juan Agustín Márquez is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. The documentary The Last Colony is his ttff/15 selection.
Tell us what your film is about in 140 characters or less.
The Last Colony is about Puerto Rico’s complicated and everlasting debate over the status issue—what should our relationship with the USA be?
Why should audiences see your film?
So many people around the world don’t know that Puerto Rico has a complicated relationship with the United States. It is not a state and it is not an independent country. The film explores how we got into this paradox and all the efforts to get out. It is an entertaining look into a very complicated and timely subject.
What was the most challenging thing about making your film?
We have many key political figures in the film—from US Congressmen to governors to academics—and most people think the hardest part was getting all those key players involved in the film. Even though it was challenging to get all these big names in the movie, the real challenge was editing 36 hours of interviews into a 90-minute documentary and making all of their stories and arguments flow. That took years of editing.
What did making this film teach you?
I am Puerto Rican but I did my high school years in Massachusetts so I never learned the basic historical facts about Puerto Rico, things you would otherwise learn in high school. So for me the film was a complete eye-opener to the shared history between Puerto Rico and the United States. I had no idea about so many things related to the early 20th century of Puerto Rican history. I had no idea that even the island’s name was changed from Puerto Rico to PORTO RICO. I had no idea it was illegal to be for independence for Puerto Rico.
Complete the sentence: “If I weren’t a filmmaker…”
I would be a teacher or a chef.
What films or filmmakers inspired you?
Wes Andreson is one of my biggest inspirations and his film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, hit a strong chord in my heart. It is a film about a documentary filmmaker on his last adventure. In terms of documentary work, I was deeply inspired by [Errol Morris’] The Fog of War.
If you could only watch one film ever again, what would it be?
I’m currently working on the third season of my national music TV show called Té Para Tres con Pili Montilla. It’s a rockumentary-style show where we showcase the ups and downs of alternative Latin music artists. The third season will start airing late October.
The Last Colony screens at the ttff/15 as follows:
Fri 18 Sept, 11.00am, UWI
Tue 22 Sept, 6.00pm, Hyatt Regency Trinidad Q&A
Tue 29 Sept, 1.30pm, MovieTowne POS
Image: A still from The Last Colony