Current Loeb Fellow Ramiro Almeida presented his recent film project El Pescador at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies last month. The movie tells the story of Blanquito, a thirty-year-old man who lives with his mother in El Matal, a small fishing village on the coast of Ecuador. When a shipment of cocaine washes up on shore, it sparks an adventure and a search for an illusive better life.
El Pescador, nominated in Spain for a Goya Award for Best Latin American Film, is producer Almeida’s first film project. Almeida has been involved in publishing as well as in transportation planning as Quito’s senior advisor for special projects and foreign affairs. Recently he started a film production company, Cine Kilotoa. In a talkback after the screening he shared details from his work as producer on El Pescador.
An audience member asked if El Pescador, a joint project of Ecuador and Colombia, received support from municipalities and government officials of both countries. Ramiro replied, "It’s always complex to work with various government officials, whatever you do, but they were very generous and supportive. Not only the city officials but the other entities within Ecuador and Colombia. We needed funds, and there are a lot of funds available for international productions. But they have to be co-productions within one, two or three countries. So we needed a partner from a different country and that’s how we found a partner in Colombia.”
Much of El Pescador’s success resulted from dynamic collaborations, at both the immediate production team and public government scales. "It’s an incredible, very complex creative process and it takes a lot of coordination and a lot of people involved, a lot of money involved. So, without support from local institutions, public governments, it would be very risky and very difficult for people to do this type of work,” said Almeida.
As part of the partnership with Colombia, Almeida and his team agreed to cast a Colombian actress, María Cecilia Sánchez, as Lorna in the film. "That was one of the requirements: that one of the main actors had to be from a different country. And then we did the sound production in Columbia, which worked very well.”
Almeida and El Pescador director Sebastián Cordero balanced many interests in the making of the film, including the type of ending it would have. "One of the conditions was that we were going to have the final cut. Sebastián, he’s very, very protective of his work, and that was a condition that we never negotiated,” Ramiro stressed. "Well, actually, I did negotiate the final cut with him because he wanted a more dramatic ending. And I really didn’t. So that’s how we came up with this ending.”
A viewer was curious about the breakdown of professionals and local people acting in the film, noting that many of the actors appeared natural in a hard-to-train sort of way. "I would say it’s like ninety to ten. Ninety percent local people and people who just want to support and don’t have any acting skills—but it was very curious because Sebastián found Andrés Crespo [who plays Blanquito], who had never acted in a feature film before. And that was such a discovery—he did a terrific job and he contributed a lot to make the movie what it is now,” said Almeida.
When asked what’s in store for the future, Ramiro hints at a project taking him back to Ecuador, perhaps in search of lost Incan buried treasure. "I want to leave a message of hope—I’m a positive person,” says Almeida.