Hi, my name is Gabriela. I'm a Mexican-American filmmaker based in London. I've been working on a documentary about Victor, Tijuana's first Independent Human Rights activist, since I met him in 2007. Through Victor, I've met some of the most amazing people I had never
hoped to meet. Let me 'splain...
I stumbled across Victor when I was researching the people smuggling industry for a fiction feature that I'm also working on. He stubbornly kept appearing in my searches...I had to meet the man. So, I asked and he said 'yes' to making a film about him after learning about his work spanning the course of nearly 25 years with the most marginalized of Tijuana's society: The Mixteca women street vendors, female and transsexual street prostitutes.
(Gay Pride Parade in Tijuana which Victor supported by marching with them, Street sex workers protest the treatment at the hands of police - they wear masks when making a public denunciation, and a Mixteca street vendor)
I've been back and forth since then, researching, reading, scrounging through piles and piles old newspapers, filming, nosing around, asking, listening, gathering, asking, listening, gathering. listening.
And here's the gist:
Armed with proof that the State of Baja California was colluding with the famous Arrelano-Felix drug cartel, Victor publicly denounces, by name, the 'corrupt' government officials! Holy moley! was my first reaction. The mere mention of drugs/cartels/corruption in Mexico and people break out in cold sweat and he shouts it from the top of his high-rise Center for Human Rights office in Tijuana - and he's still alive? Is he nuts? We'll cover that...
Here's a link to the blog: http://victorthedocumentary.wordpress.com
We've been very fortunate to have found support in organizations such as Sheffield DocFest, UK Film Council supported, Initialize Films, and most recently at the San Sebastian Film Festival, Tareula project development scheme, with renowned Spanish script editor, Ana Magallon, who has helped shape the spine of the story.
Now I'm working to raise funds to start the edit so that eventually we can come to a screen near you.
Victor is a good guy. No doubt. An amazing guy. Perhaps. But an important fact is that he refused to play nice in the face of corruption. He denounced the government for ties to the drug cartel. At that time, although bad for your health to pronounce such things, the drug cartel situation wasn't as out of hand as it is today. So, I ask: Would things have been different for Mexico had action been taken when Victor dared to face the Goliath in the 90s?
Today, it pains me to hear my own family and friends tell me not to go to Tijuana because of the danger. I know. I understand. But I have friends there now. I know people, and I can't un-know them, their struggles, their pain and their flat out REFUSAL to leave THEIR HOME. What can I say, I've left mine, my parents left theirs, for a better future of course and for which I'm eternally grateful. I admire all the choices but my Tijuana friends are still there and fighting to stay.
This is NOT another story about the cartels, drug trafficking,
killings, although there is some of that.
This is a story of a man who faces insurmountable odds, at the ultimate cost to him and his loved ones, for the sake of his values. Whether he triumphs in the end is debatable but no one can take away the fact that he never compromised or withdrew from what he believed to be true (and what others knew but only dared whisper). Talk about 'cojones'.
He fought not as a super-hero would but as real heroes do...with ups and downs, loses and victories, warts and all...People like Victor come from all corners of the earth but the world doesn't get exposed to enough of them.
There is change in the air, unrest in the world - uprising, revolutions, people taking back their power. I don't know what it would take for Mexicans to take back Mexico. I'm hoping that maybe by showing the story of a man who gave it his all and continues doing so, may, just may, inspire others to try, and not just in Mexico.
What We Need & What You Get
$9,000 will go towards producing a 20 minute segment which will help potential funding bodies envisage the end product, including editing and storytelling style as well as an all-important element, the animation.
Throughout his more controversial actions and denunciations, naming and shaming government officials, the media played an integral part in publicizing his work nationally and internationally. Cartoonists of the time represented his more illustrious actions through political cartoons. These will be animated and use to represent those moments where Victor's ego/naivete gets the better of him and thrusts him far beyond where mere mortals dare to go e.g. Mighty Mouth!
(Here the maverick activist has pissed off another government official and threatened with prison and challenged to fight the Chief Justice of Baja California and then the phone tapping starts...)For this sum, we will:
- Spend as frugally as possible
- Get a 20 minute edit (minimum to submit to potential finishing funds)
- Animation sample with Mighty Mouth character defined (and included in this segment)
- Update the website design and function
We will continue to seek funds to finalize once this goal has been achieved, so if we are able to supersede our goal, we'll be able to produce more.
What you get are some nice news/events/stuff and hopefully a feeling that you are contributing towards something that can truly inspire, and maybe create change or at least, start a dialogue.
Other Ways You Can Help
As I have shopped the film around to potential broadcasters, the feedback I have received is that this subject has been covered, 'seen it'. I don't believe that and I hope you can see past the drug cartel thing and imagine a future where we won't have a 'drug war'. Where we can come up with a better way to work out what is good and bad for all societies, not just the most powerful ones.
I hope that I have communicated to you the value of this story, how it has affected me and how it may affect you. I'd be extremely grateful if you can help me share this with as many people as possible and bring it to life.
Don't fret, if you can't spare the cash please get in touch anyway and I'll find a way to use your talents!
I do need a team of people who can help spread the word, so don't be shy, get in touch!
The Team So Far
Richard Perry - Director of Photography
News work: BBC, ITV, C4, Fox, ABC, Discovery, Al Jazeera. Corporate Campaigns: Microsoft, McDonald's, Motorola, award-winning commercial for Guinness, and feature docs in hostile environs.
Lorenzo Hagerman - Camera
Credits include Oscar nominated documentary Which Way Home
Carlos Serrano Azcona - Editor
Credits include multi-award winning Japon (Carlos Reygadas)
Krysanne Katsoolis - Executive Producer
Credits include Oscar winning, The Cove and Oscar nominated, Which Way Home
Manu Chao's people have agreed to license some tunes - so the soundtrack should be a massive treat!