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Juan Basanta Ortiz; Quiet everybody, action!

Juan Basanta Ortiz

It is about eleven o’clock in the morning and his offi ce is in turmoil, there are people everywhere focused on their work that far from provoking a sense of “chaos” it leaves us the feeling of a team working perfectly.

Faithfull to his word, he welcomes us at the time agreed and shows that smile and joviality that characterize him and make you feel at home. He sits and begins little by little to relax, asks for water and coffee, Dominican coffee, the one that belongs to his land. By knowing that he was going to talk about his passion, we refer to Juan Basanta, producer and filmmaker with an extensive national and International professional career.

How did Juan Basanta become a filmmaker?

There are many accomplices in this project but two are vitals. On the one hand Carlos Francisco Elías (Dominican movie critic and intellectual). He “kidnapped” me for a “film test”, a room for critics where we watched films first. On the other hand, the film “Bicycles are for the Summer” directed by Jaime Chavarri, where some children were playing soldiers in the same yard where the war would really take place later. It shook me in such a way that my life changed totally. The magic of this movie together with the feeling that gave me the idea of creating and living in another world was basically the reason of being unadapted to the real one.

I was lucky to meet Jaime Chavarri through the Spanish director Carlos Saura and when I told him that his film had changed the course of my life he replied, “you honour me”. I owe the Spanish man my vocation for the movie.

Do you think that the moment the Dominican Republic lived through influenced the impact the movie “Bikes are for summer” caused you?
In the 70s we were living the Cold War in this country. I was 12 at time of Balaguer and my house was raided every week, the tone of violence was very high in the streets. This situation helped me to strengthen the idea of changing the world in which I lived.

Your youth is developed in a bohemian atmosphere, if you wouldn’t have devoted to the movie where your passion for art had been focused on?
I would devote to “architecture” specifically the one that changes people life.

¿Movie, art or industry?
It is very simple, the painter works with his hands and a canvas, our canvas is a team for us, an indivisible team, art and industry. There is a reason why the movie is called the seventh art, it is teamwork and the challenge is to understand each other and fit in that team.

After “Biodegradable”, what will be the surprise now? Tell us about your new film
The Gunguna is a piece that I love, produced by me and directed by Ernesto Alemany, a gem of Dominican film, completely irreverent, vile, bloody, funny, sharp, nice, cute, a beautiful movie which premieres on July 16.

When you talk about “The Gunguna” we notice that you’re not a director repeating genre, do you like to change gender?
You catch me, you take my clothes off!

How does Juan Basanta star their creative processes to get to a new piece?
With discipline, García Márquez told us “we must have a method, whatever, stand up in front of a blank page, sit everyday”, if he had not done it he would have been able to remain as a “drunk dope fiend “in Barranquilla.

What could the public expect when the movie is premiered the day 16?
Expect… a tsunami, they will enjoy it. It is an ensemble movie, a very simple story.

Juan, let’s talk about your hobbies
My favorite sport is tennis and cooking my pleasure. I love it

How do you see the film industry in Dominican Republic?
The film industry is getting better and all parties are improving with it. Like everything else, it is a maturation process. I think the patient was very ill but improving. It is not going to die, on the contrary a beautiful Dominican movie will be born.

¿Which work has made you feel more satisfied, more identified?
The next one, because the passion that moves us, and makes us walk, is what is not to be done yet.

What is the part of your job you like most? Just one
Find a story that excites me. When I see something that can be narrated, can be movie, can turn into a movie, that’s the most important moment.

TEXT: Silvia Jiménez; IMAGES: Archivo