Films Based on Real Life

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary One of the reasons why I thoroughly dislike Hollywood is that they come out with too many films about things that are not possible in real life. They come out with wacky story lines, super-human action films, and just as equally unrealistic cinema about subjects that have more to do with some director’s warped imagination than something from actual life. This is why I find films by a Venezuelan named Jackson Gutierrez refreshing. What makes this man unique is the fact he is by his original trade a barber. How did he get into making movies? According to Gutierrez, his customers would tell him stories about what is happening out on the streets of Caracas (capital of Venezuela). The stories were to put it mildly incredible, yet true. Some of these stories include how some vigilantes burn a thief alive for trying to steal a motorcycle, or another about whole families being slaughtered. These stories have helped Gutierrez with script material that captures the grit of the streets of Caracas.

One of his most recent films, “Caracas,” tells the story of a pregnant woman who is shot and murdered by her former boyfriend. Miraculously, the baby is born in the gutter and rescued by a man who becomes the baby boy’s godfather. When the boy’s godfather is himself murdered, the boy grows up in a truly violent environment where he becomes a drug kingpin bent on murder and revenge. The film stories are full of gang violence, murder in the streets, society’s moral problems, and crime. In fact, Caracas has one of the highest murder rates of any city in the world. Gutierrez’s films point out this fact, and how many of the people within his beloved Caracas have turned a blind eye to the horrors in their own neighborhoods. What makes Gutierrez’s films truly brilliant is that they produce the realities of the streets that so many people either refuse to see or (obviously) see everyday but do nothing about it. Gutierrez himself does NOT glorify the violence and mayhem that happens on the streets of Caracas. He shows the plain reality in order to make people think about the environment they live in.

Interestingly enough, Gutierrez is now working for a TV station. This will help him a great deal to develop his potential to make more films on the realities in his home city. Many of the actors and actresses in his films are from Caracas—many with former or current gang affiliations and having served time in prison for their crimes. Although his films have been shown mainly on youtube, and on locally made DVD’s, the film “Caracas” may eventually be shown in movie theaters in Venezuela. I hope that his movies will be shown well beyond that—all across the world. This world is in need of such talented people, and there is much people wishing to break into film in America can learn from Jackson Gutierrez.

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