Today is our last day in the Dominican Republic and it has been a wonderful festival. I have only been to one other film festival in Latin America (the AMAZING Cartagena Film Festival) and what I love about festivals here is the carefree attitude about the festivals. The festivals know how to have FUN parties, lots of dancing, food and drinking. The filmmakers tend to let their hair down, and get their hips moving to the salsa beat…it’s always a good time. I am very excited about our festival in Cuba as I hear that is the mother of all festivals..but I am getting ahead of myself, we don’t leave to Cuba until December and I should focus on the DR and what happened Friday night.
For me, the best part of being a filmmaker is entering people’s lives. Having the opportunity to meet people that are so different from me, with such different experiences, different understandings, different sets of beliefs. The most sacred part of filmmaking is building relationships with people, building enough trust where people share their secrets, their fears and their dreams with me. It’s truly an honor when someone lets me into their world. I take the responsibility very seriously and I try my best to do right by them and their story.
On Friday night Gloria and I had the opportunity to meet Lali. Lali is a prostitute. She works on a brightly lit street on the Malecon in Santo Domingo, across the street from a gas station which blares salsa, merenge and bachata until the sun rises. Gloria and I spoke with Lali for a couple of hours and in this time she shared her life story with us. She talked about how she ended up where she is, she talked about her dreams, her daughter and the Paulo Coelho book she was reading. She was warm, gracious and kind. Her story was riveting, her personality was larger than life, so much so that the constant stream of men, the non-stop flipping of tricks simply melted into the background. I listened to this young woman, who is my age, open her heart and her life to me. I felt humbled and so grateful to be given the opportunity to speak with her. To do nothing more than speak with her was a precious gift. Why a gift? Because I cannot deny someone’s humanity once I have spoken with them, once they have told me the only thing they want in life is to be loved by a good man. To be loved by a good man…that’s what I want as well. That’s what you want…it’s what we all want.
Flying around the world at a non-stop pace, being pampered everywhere I go, being told how much someone likes my film, my acting, my writing, my directing can make me loose myself IN myself. But sitting down with Lali grounds me. It reminds me why I do what I do. I don’t tell stories in order travel. I tell stories so I can connect with humanity, I tell stories to move people, I tell stories so Lali can watch my movie after a long nights work and laugh or cry or simply escape.