Friday, September 22, 2017
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Talking to Ivan Herrera

Ivan Herrera out on a shootThe Dominican Republic is not that well known for its film industry but this Caribbean island has some amazing talent, including Ivan Herrera, a cineaste who has made several films, including La Montana and Pueto’ pa’ mi, which hit cinemas around the country on 13 August 2015.

Currently living again in Cabarete, we had the chance to have a quick chat with him in between post-production of Pueto’ pa’ mi and looking for funds for a movie he wants to make here on the Dominican North Coast.

 

Poster for Pueto pa miPueto’ pa’ mi
Filmed in record time, music drama Pueto’ pa’ mi features two heavy weights of urban Dominican hip hop: Mozart La Para and El Mayor Clasico. The story, which is filmed in one of the hardest neighborhoods of Santo Domingo and is based on some real life facts, gives a taste of life of two young men who want to make a career as urban hip hop musicians in the Dominican Republic. Even though the film is not the typical comedy movie that is usually popular in the Dominican Republic, the big names and the popular theme of urban hip hop will ensure that this much-awaited film will become a Dominican blockbuster.
 
Watch the trailer here

Ivan, who has been working in the audiovisual industry for over twenty years, sees his career taking a turn with this film. He has produced and directed tons of musical videos as well as a number of short films and documentaries, but only once before has he directed a feature length film, a beautiful documentary style film called La Montana, which he co-directed together with Tabaré Blanchard.

“The people who wanted to make Pueto’ pa’ mi sought me out and asked if I wanted to direct this movie”, Ivan explains. “Of course I said yes”, he smiles. “It has been a great experience and the people I got to work with gave their very best. Yesterday the film was released in cinemas around the country and it has attracted record numbers so far. Film critics who were present at the premiere last Wednesday also gave really good reviews of the movie as well."
Ivan Herrera
La Montana

Back in 2011 an expedition of three experienced Dominican climbers, who had already scaled several other big mountains, decided to scale Mount Everest in May 2011. The announcement made big waves in the Dominican Republic and at first the idea was to make a television film out of the story.
Poster for La Montana


However, both Ivan and co-director Tabaré believed the story had much more potential so they searched for more funds to be able to create a feature length documentary with at its heart the story of the Dominican expedition to Mount Everest and alongside the story of three youngsters, who inspired by the Dominican Mount Everest story, decide to climb Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the Dominican Republic and incidentally in the Caribbean, at the same time as the Mount Everest ascent. The result is a beautifully poetic semi-documental film with amazing images and touching music, which was released in 2013. It was selected for a number of awards around the globe and won several La Silla Awards as well as the award for Best Documentary at the Miami International Film Festival.  

Watch the trailer here

“Filming the Mount Everest part of La Montana was a challenge”, explains Ivan. “For the actual ascent we used GoPros that were mounted on the heads of the climbers with modified huge record buttons, solar panels to ensure that the battery would keep on working and the highest capacity SD cards that were available on the market then. It was the first time GoPros were taken into such an extreme environment so we weren’t sure that it would actually work but we had done our research and technically it was possible. The images that came out were beautiful and worked out perfectly.”

“Getting to base camp and staying there was hard work, with the hardest part taking out the camera and film when the only thing you really wanted to do was keep your head down and your hands in your pockets”, Ivan smiles. “But despite the cold and thin air, the experience was life-changing. It made me appreciate life a lot more because you really realize how fleeting life is up there. It made me connect a lot more to nature as well. Still the most beautiful moment for me was when I got to go back down the mountain”
Getting to base camp    Prices won by La Montana

Upcoming projects
Ivan Herrera surfing on his favorite coast“I want to film a movie here, with the beautiful Dominican North Coast as its backdrop”, Ivan starts off enthusiastically. It’s obvious that he loves this part of his country, where he spent a big chunk of his youth as a professional surfer. “I wrote a script a while ago about a love story between two second world war refugees, who were supposed to meet each other again after the war in Sosua”, Ivan explains. “I don’t want to give away too much of the story but hopefully we will start filming soon so you can see for yourself what the film is about. In any case I can promise amazing landscapes and touching moments.”

Ivan has been travelling these last weeks to both the United States and Europe to finalize the fundraising. Casting in both Switzerland and Vienna, Austria has also started. This latest film is foreseen to come out at the end of 2016, beginning 2017. In between Ivan will probably also direct the foreseen sequel of Pueto’ pa’ mi.

 

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