Filmmaker's Debut ‘Purgatorio’ Brings New Look to the Border

Filmmaker's Debut ‘Purgatorio’ Brings New Look to the Border

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After screening in more than 40 festivals around the world, Purgatorio will finally be premiered at the Laemmle NoHo in Los Angeles this Friday October 10.

“The movie, it’s a journey to the heart of the USA-Mexican border. It’s like you are having a lucid dream in which you can travel along the line and meet characters who live around it.” This is how filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes explains his documentary ‘Purgatorio’ during a phone interview. “It’s not a political or social movie but an emotional one.”

Reyes is a young filmmaker living in California’s Central Valley. He was born in 1983 in Mexico City and moved to USA with his parents when he was six years old. After completing high school, he attended college in San Diego, Madrid, and Mexico City.

“I imagined this movie since I came to USA… It’s a well known issue but I believe ‘Purgatorio’ brings a fresh look,” commented Reyes.

In 2010 Reyes started planning the movie, which “I wanted to be like postal cards of people of the border,” he says. In 2011, he filmed it during four intense weeks, traveling from Tijuana to Texas with his team. Purgatorio was completed and started to be shown in 2013.

The 80 minute-documentary, in Spanish with English subtitles, has received high critical acclaim.

“This haunting, beautifully photographed documentary presents the human side of its incendiary topic,” wrote Frank Scheck, of The Hollywood Reporter. “An elegiac and cinematically shot poem filled with emotional narration and iconography,” expressed Christine Davila, of IndieWIRE.

Purgatorio also received several awards in festivals and special screenings, and director Reyes was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema. Not bad for a beginner who still makes a living with a regular job.

“After college I was broke, I spent my money making short movies,” said Reyes. “So three years ago I moved back with my parents in the Central Valley.” Currently he is a Court Interpreter. But this doesn’t stop him to create new projects.

“I am working on a project I called ‘Lupe bajo el sol’, its about an old immigrant who worked all his life and now its old and he is alone,” explained Reyes with enthusiasm. “Its a story of many people, of many places… Its hard to get old and you realize you always worked hard but you are still poor and have no family.”

This film will not be a documentary but a fictional one. “I am working with non professional actors.”

Reyes said Latinos like to get together and share a conversation. He wants his films to bring people around the screen, follow the story and then share the story in a conversation.

“There are lots of stories here in the Valley, next to us,” he said. “We need to tell them!”

New York. Cinema Village, Opens October 3
Los Angeles. Laemmle NoHo, Opens October 10
Spokane, Washington. Magic Lantern Theatre, October 13
Burlington, Iowa. Capitol Theater, Opens October 17
Daytona Beach, Florida. Cinematique of Daytona, October 19
San Francisco, California. The Roxie, October 26, Q&A with filmmaker
Oakland, California. New Parkway, October 28, Q&A with filmmaker

Eduardo Stanley is a writer for LA Beez.