“Carpinteros”—First Dominican Film to Premiere at Sundance


Carlos Aguilar (Remezcla) writes about new film Carpinteros [Woodpeckers, 2017], by Dominican director José María Cabral. Aguilar gives ample information about the film and then interviews the director, who offers insight about many aspects of filming this particular type of film. Here are just a few excerpts; read the full article and interview at Remezcla. Aguilar writes:

Adversity is a catalyst for creativity, and nowhere is this theory more unequivocally true than behind bars. Those that, for diverse circumstances ranging from false imprisonment to horrendous crimes, have been locked up quickly learn to adapt and become impressively adept at making their stay bearable. Companionship, as seen in Dominican director José María Cabral’s fifth feature-length drama, Carpinteros (Woodpeckers), is high on the list of priorities for all human beings, but even more so for those forced into isolation as a form of punishment.

Centered on Julian Sosa (Jean Jean), a man caught between his Haitian roots and the life he’s created on the other side of the island of Hispaniola, Carpinteros is the first Dominican movie to ever premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. It’s an honor that represents an invaluable step forward in terms for visibility for the country’s cinema. Cabral’s newest tale gets its name from a curious sign language designed by both male and female inmates in the Najayo and La Victoria prisons in order to exchange messages through the barred windows that separate facilities for each gender. The level of complex ideas that can be expressed carpinteando is shocking and exemplifies how clever people under pressure can become when seeking to connect. This form of communication in turn takes its name from behavior typical to woodpeckers themselves.

[. . .] Shot on location and employing real prisoners, Cabral crafted a universal drama about the power of romance to overcome even the most dire of circumstances. The film is still looking for a US distributor and is embarking on the festival circuit. Miami and Guadalajara are next. Here is what the Dominican filmmaker had to say about his most internationally successful project to date.

On Discovering the Humanity inside Violent Prisons

A friend told me that he was teaching classes inside these prisons and he had heard about inmates communicating through the barred windows. I went there and saw it with my own eyes. I discovered something very peculiar. We always think about violence, dirtiness, and darkness when it comes to prisons, but there is also a sensitive side about them. Human sensitivity can’t be removed no matter how hard they try. When I saw this I thought it was very impressive how they developed this specific signed language to communicate with each other. I took advantage of this opportunity and started writing a screenplay. I spent nine months there writing with them. It’s a love story because the most common stories there are about love. [. . .]

For full article, see http://remezcla.com/features/film/interview-jose-maria-cabral-carpinteros-sundance-2017/

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