After Chile’s earthquake on February 27th, the first email Alberto Fuguet opened was from the New York Times, asking him to write an article about his experience in Santiago. As a respected journalist who lived the 8.8 disaster, he was a logical choice. Then there’s his reputation as an acclaimed filmmaker and author. Known for “keeping it real” he has shattered stereotypes about Latin literature and researched his novel, Movies of My Life so thoroughly that he’s often confused with his main character, a seismologist. At first light Fuguet obliged, and his op-ed, “In Chile, Life Between the Tremors” was published March 2.
This week Nashville can meet the author who banishes borders by shattering stereotypes, hear readings from his latest book, and see a screening of his movie, Velodrome. And one more thing…possibly appear in his new movie.
On March 22 Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies will host a public conversation and reception with Alberto Fuguet, at Fido in Hillsboro Village 1812 21st Ave. S. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Calling it “Translation in Progress,” Fuguet and his translator Ezra Fitz of Nashville will read from his newest book, Missing, in Spanish and English.
The idea for Missing came from Fuguet’s investigation of the disappearance of his uncle who immigrated to the US. Characteristic of the author who breaks tradition as in his McOndo, ending an era that dictated Latin literature be written in the mold of Marquez’s magical realism, Fuguet says Missing turns the immigration story “upside down”:
“Missing questions the idea that there’s a pot of gold here (in the US). While it might be true for some, my uncle would have been better off if he’d stayed in Chile. Immigration is a knife that cuts both ways. When you lose your sense of place you can end up anywhere. Somebody that doesn’t have a root can quickly turn into a rolling stone.”
Then on March 24 at 7 PM a screening of Fuguet’s movie, Velodrome, will be held at Sarratt Cinema, located on the first floor of the Sarratt Student Center at Vanderbilt University. The feature film is about a relationship-challenged cyclist and is made in the new style of garage cinema. Fuguet grinned as he called Wednesday’s event the “World Premier of a Work in Progress.” Committed to making the movie on a small budget was challenging, but when his editor’s computer slid from the 4th floor to the 2nd in the recent earthquake, the subtitles were lost. Fuguet had to resynchronize them for the film which will premiere here Wednesday and officially open at the Buenos Aires Fiilm Festival later this year. The feature is 120 minutes followed by discussion and is free to the public.
And then there’s the bilingual movie, Música Campesina to be filmed here in Nashville. Describing himself as a “Belcourt kind of filmmaker,” Fuguet’s signature independence led to his making movies despite growing up in Pinochet’s Chile where film schools were nonexistent because of their “subversive” nature. Still loving a challenge, Fuguet bought into the vision of Edward “Ted” Fischer, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University: to write, cast, and film a movie by Fuguet’s return to Chile on April 5th Left with just over a month for the ambitious task (his arrival in the US delayed a week by the earthquake), Fuguet has thrown himself into the project full force. Showing me the freshly finished script last Friday—still handwritten on a legal pad on his desk at Vanderbilt—he talked passionately of his first love, making movies.
Impressed with the eclectic demographic he has found on this first trip to Music City, he said of his latest project: “I wanted to write a movie about Nashville. I don’t write about what I don’t know, so it will be a ‘fish out of water’ story about a Chilean who comes to Nashville.” The character, driven by an interest in country music, will meet Nashville residents from various ethnic backgrounds. Other than the lead, a Chilean actor named Pablo Cerda, the rest of the cast will be chosen from locals.
At this time, rather than from formal auditions Fuguet plans to select those appearing in the film from people he meets informally while scouting the city. He asks those interested simply be open should his crew approach them.