“Porfirio,” a Colombian film featuring a wheelchair-bound man, played by himself, who hijacks a plane, will be shown at the 64th edition of the famous Cannes Film Festival in France on Saturday at 10AM (Colombian time).
The film by Colombian-Ecuadorean director and screenwriter Alejandro Landes Echavarria, will be shown as part of the Official Selection of the 43rd Directors’ Fortnight, considered one of the most prestigious sections of the festival, as it has jump-started the careers of famous directors such as George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee.
The story revolves around the real life of a Colombian peasant who is handicapped after being trapped in the cross-fire of a police exchange, makes a living selling cellphone minutes in a city near the Amazon River, and who, after a decade of requesting disability allowance, hijacks a plane to get the government’s attention.
According to a press release, Landes’ idea for the film came from a 2005 newspaper headline about a handicapped man hijacking a Bogota-bound airplane. The director was so intrigued by the story that he went to speak to the man, Porfirio, who was on house arrest, and the film was “born from the time spent with him, his chair, his house and his family.”
A defining moment in the film’s development came when Landes, having already decided not to use professional actors, chose to have Porfirio play himself in the film, which takes place in Florencia, Caqueta department. The film also features the man’s younger son, and a young neighbor as his wife.
Filming of the production finished in October 2010, approximately five years after Landes made his first visit to Porfirio.
In regards to what he hopes to accomplish with the film, Landes said:
News on the screen or on paper appears to be bubbles in the boiling water
that surrounds us, disguising acts of unusual violence with the mantle of
something distant, fantastic (...) I am looking to bring it closer, to
position the camera against the humanity that lives beneath the surface;
moments apparently quiet, banal - at the same time funny and tragic - that
create bubbles in the surface with the force of their simplicity and shake
Landes, along with the film’s producer, Francisco Aljure, will be present at the film’s showing.
The director was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil to a Colombian mother and an Ecuadorean father, studied at Brown University in Rhode Island and later wrote for the Miami Herald. His first film, a documentary titled “Cocalero,” was shown at the 2007 Sundance film festival and premiered in more than 10 countries.