Dominican independent film “Cabarete” to present its authenticity at PJIFF


Photo courtesy of director Ivan Bordas

After months of putting our lives on hold to survive a massive public health crisis, a online film festival is exactly what we need. Events, such as Poppy Jasper International Film Festival, an annual event produced by volunteers, has remained afloat despite the merciless waves of reality that befall us all. They continued on their way and maintained their commitment to showcasing independent films.

A year later, they are hosting 14 days of online film screenings, speaker panels and virtual events. Although they typically hold their event in the historic downtown Morgan Hill and Gilroy, California neighborhoods, they have adapted to the world COVID-19 has painted while staying true to their vision. This allowed them to promote independent films such as Cabarete.

Cabarete was directed and produced by Dominican director Ivan Bordas. The film presents a kite surfer in the Dominican Republic trying to find the balance between his dream of becoming a professional athlete and his fascination with the nightlife.

The magic of the film is felt through its authenticity. Each scene carefully displays Caribbean culture, giving the viewer an authentic experience.

BELatina News recently spoke to director Ivan Bordas to learn more about Cabarete. Here is what he had to say:

BELatina: Tell us a bit about yourself

Director Ivan Bordas: Well, I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where I took to the beach almost every week. I really enjoyed the Caribbean life, especially its people, but moved to the US to study cinema years ago because there was no film program in my hometown of Santiago , which is located in the north of the Dominican Republic.

BL: How did you find out about cinema?

IB: I loved watching movies when I was younger. In fact, I received a camera from my parents. It was a small digital camera at the time with a small cassette, so I took it and started making videos on the island. This is how I realized that I wanted to study cinema.

BL: What motivated you to create Cabarete?

IB: Well i came from cabarete because I live next door. The name of the film is the name of a region of the Dominican Republic. I am actually a 15 minute drive from the town of Puerto Plata, where this region is located. Something about this region is that there is a special “microclimate” in it where you have over 40 nationalities living there. So in this place you are easily merged into this melting pot of wonderful cultures. These cultures originate from places like Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, Africa and even Russia. You name it, and someone from that culture is probably there. This place is filled with such different experiences, and that is due in large part to the clash of cultures. So, I was very drawn to telling a story about the characters, who are really, many are my friends. Some of these characters come from very humble backgrounds but have gone on to become international kite surfing stars.

BL: What can the audience expect from the film?

IB: When people watch the movie, they will probably feel like every character is looking for heaven. Even people who come from other parts of the island, too, will seek paradise. In other words, Cabarete viewers will witness the character’s pursuit of happiness (and it can be more than one thing).

BL: How long have you been working Cabarete?

IB: I actually got the idea about 15 years ago. I really wanted to tell this story, so I wrote the script while I was in school. I was able to start this project thanks to the movie incentives provided by the Dominican Republic. Once I started we filmed. Cabarete was filmed before the pandemic.

BL: Does Cabarete have subtitles?

IB: The film is currently in Spanish. But it has English subtitles. There are a few lines in English because the movie involves foreign residents living in the area and they speak English. Other than that, the film is around 95% Spanish. I really wanted to be true to the story, which is why I decided on this.

BL: What makes this film so special to you?

IB: For my part, I was very rigid with this film. I wanted to be honest with the region. This included being true to the ways of the region. The dialects and actions of the inhabitants of the island vary. A lot of it depends on whether you are from the south, east or north of the Dominican Republic. I really wanted to make sure we had the right accents, especially since I’m from this area. The actors are another example of my commitment to the authenticity of the film. The star of Cabarete is someone who had never played before, but he comes from Cabarete. So you get that real element and that real energy revolving around that region. Additionally, all of the music used throughout the film is Dominican. I really wanted the full Dominican DNA without hampering universal history and I think we got there. You will notice that the story can travel and people relate to that story anywhere.

BL: Do you have any advice for those trying to get into the movie industry?

IB: The important thing is the story, and I didn’t know it from the start. I came from a visual background, where I mainly photographed. But one day I realized that the story is what is important. Everyone has a good story to tell and it’s up to us to tell it. You can get a hundred dollars, a million dollars, or ten million, but it doesn’t really matter without a good story. You only need the idea. Everything else, including technology, can be found in your cell phone or computer. So even though the barriers to producing and creating a film have fallen, the barriers to entry, that is, to getting that story, have never fallen. All you have to do is go and sit down in a quiet place and think. Ask yourself what story you want to tell and why you want to live it. Once you’ve done that, tell your story, unadulterated, and go for it.

BL: How can our audience appreciate your film?

IB: The public can visit the Poppy Jasper site to view the program and search Cabarete. I really hope everyone gets a chance to watch it. However, if they can’t see it, stay tuned to see what else appears. In any case, it is important to go to any festival and support the cinema. Sure, watching blockbuster movies can be fun, but don’t forget about independent movies. In fact, around 95% of the movies are independent, so there are a lot of options. Plus, it never hurts to venture out.


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