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Premiere in Nicaragua of the "By my side" film

Róger Solórzano Canales | Aug 14, 2012

Dominga, a "By my side" protagonist in the Chureca. | Photographer: By My Side Film

The documentary film tells the lives of three women in the “Chureca”, and will soon be exhibited around the world.

Dominga is glue addict, she has AIDS and would like to see the son she had and never met. Maryuri is 20 years old, and despite a strong respiratory infection she expects that her pregnancy progressed well. Fabiola is only 12 years old, she must choose between a better future in a remote location or to accompany her mother in extreme poverty. They all know each other. They share the same stage of life: the landfill of “La Chureca” (Managua) as well as been the protagonists of the documentary film "By my side", which pre-premiere will take place on Thursday August 16th in Nicaragua.

Produced by a small but very enthusiastic international team, By my side was shot between October and December 2011. Its director, the Swiss journalist Jean-Cosme Delaloye, had come into the country to produce various reports and from the beginning of that year came in contact with the “Chureca”, considered the largest open dump in Central America. There he also encountered the difficult situation of more than 1,500 people who live and compete in the job of getting the best waste for recycling. interviewed Jean-Cosme to learn by firsthand about the documentary, and about his experience shoting a film in a peculiar environment. Before turning to his answers, we would like to expand a little more about this work that soon will be traveling around the world following film festivals and then will hit the television screens in Europe and the United States. Below you will be able to appreciate a trailer of the film.

The documentary was able to bind a diverse group of collaborators in Nicaragua and the USA. All the filming was shot by only 3 persons: Jean-Cosme, his cinematographer Nicolas Garcia and his associate producer Edelmira Lopez -both based in Managua-, aided by a young man of the “Chureca”. Then, the edition was made in New York by Jackie French. With the music, he had the support of the Nicaraguans Perrozompopo and Cynjos as well as the international David Spinley (USA), Alon Yavnai (Israel), Roman Elsenser (Switzerland) and the “Mariachi Los Toros”, from Los Angeles (U.S.)

Today things have started to change in the “Chureca”, many for the better, others for worse. To watch this movie, you can go to the world pre-premier this Thursday August 16, at 7PM in the Spanish Cultural Center in Nicaragua.

Here we have the interview:

There have already been published a synopsis and articles on the film, but we would like to hear from the mouth of his own director what is it about.
The film is not about the “Chureca”, but about three girls live there and have to survive. The film is called “By my side” because the people there struggle to survive. There, each one in a family struggles to get recycling; it is like "your money, your recycling, is yours', so each one earns is for itself, is for his/her food. It's interesting because the relationships are complicated at the “Chureca”. But at the same time, everyone needs a person by their side. The story of the three of them is the story of their relationship with their mother, because when the mother is strong, I think you can survive a little bit better in the “Chureca”. And you'll see Dominga, Fabiola and Maryuri they have a very different mom. They have to make a choice, whether they leave or survive in the “Chureca”, if their mom is going to help them or not.

There are three female characters, why this choice?

The first time I came to Nicaragua was to do a story on a radio for women who have been abused in Bocana de Paiwas (rural community in central Nicaragua), the radio is “Palabra de Mujer" (Woman's Word). I have done many stories about abused women and impunity to men in Central America. I do not know, there are always plenty of stories of women here. I have spent about a year working at the “Chureca”, and I have a stronger relationship with Dominga, because I know her for longer, and when I was recording the relationship was more interesting, in fact, I interviewed men as well but I do not know, there is a force in the three of them that I have not seen in a man. I must say that there is a fourth character who is a man called Noel and he is Fabiola's brother, and he has a very important role in the movie as well, but the story of Fabiola is a bit more complicated, there are more things happening.

What led you to focus on the relationship between your characters and their moms?

In my career as a journalist I have always found that if you have a strong mother, a mother who takes care of you, you are more likely to survive, you have more chances of success, of development. The father is not the same, the father often goes away and there are many single women. My first film was at a rodeo for inmates in a prison in Louisiana (United States), the main character was a prisoner of 30 years old and he was in jail because his mother never cared for him. Same thing here: a lot happened to Dominga, you'll see in the trailer that her mother never believed her when she was raped by her stepfather, that's one of the reasons why she is here, why Dominga is in the “Chureca”.

How was it to work there, in an environment as special as the “Chureca”?
To enter the “Chureca” I had a guide, a boy who lives there with his mom and his family. We never had security, our security was the respect, when you talk to someone with respect, I think that person will respect you. People knew me as "the gringo" at first, but they realized that I'm not gringo, I'm Swiss. Then at the end of the movie I was the brown (as Dominga, tan with the sun day by day)....We never had problems. It is a place with rules, organized, there are families that are very united...yes, there are abuses, there are glue addictions, there are many things, but after spending much time there, you are part of the ”Chureca” as well, and people respects you and knows you, it was not difficult.

What effect would you like the film produce?

For me as a journalist, sometimes when I do a report I do not know if it is going to make an impact on people who shared their story with me. In this case, I know I will not change the “Chureca” or Managua, or poverty in the “Chureca”. But, I hope, (and it is one of the reasons why we do the pre-premier in Managua) people can see what is real about this and feel that they can help even with little. We do not need much to help the four. And I think people will see the history of the 3 girls and Noel. Noel says "I want to enter school." We do not need much, we don’t even need $300 dollars. It is a small effort, a little help to help him go to school. I think it is going to have impact. Things have already begun to change there, there are many people willing to help. But there is still a lot to do.

Translated by Aída Pichardo