El Pana Gringo: A Short Film
A portrait of Luis, a Venezuelan American musician attempting to fix a broken 'cuatro,' the instrument that defines his Latino identity.
A prequel to the feature film script "Criollo Pródigo" written by Pedro Vivas Hernández.
The Film Follows Luis...
...A musician born in Venezuela, but raised in America.
His instrument of choice is a beloved cuatro, a folk instrument from the fatherland.
Luis misses home, and he plays its folk songs to keep from forgetting his roots.
Since "El Pana Gringo's" protagonist was raised in America but not raised "American," he believes others "marginalize" him. Feeling more alien by the day, he grasps tighter onto the traditions of Venezuela, his homeland, in an effort to remain a part of its community. Yet, how can you really be part of a community that is half a world away?
I moved from Barquisimeto, Venezuela to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I was five and dodged a metaphorical bullet: Right now, the oil rich country has the highest inflation rate in the world. This was caused entirely by an unstable political system that has also allowed for a seemingly limitless amount of murder and robbery, institutional corruption, and general hopelessness. After graduating from college, I considered returning to Venezuela to challenge its politics and contribute to the reconstruction of its dignity. However, this sense of duty inevitably led to inaction-- after nearly two decades of living in America I couldn't justify bailing on the place I called home. Besides, the idea of dutifulness was more desirable than the actual duty itself.
I felt like I betrayed a part of myself. To explore that feeling I wrote a feature film called "Criollo Pródigo." It's about a lonely Venezuelan-American musician who takes a stab at long-sought adulation by performing a tour in his fatherland; however, in the process he inadvertently wrecks all the meaningful relationships in his life. The short film "El Pana Gringo" is set before these events. The protagonist is a decade or so younger.
The short is part portrait and part experiment-- a way to learn about and become this character before his stint as tragic hero in the longer story. Further, the film hopes to engage others who are also coping with being strangers in a strange land.