Far from Home

"Even during the most difficult times there is always hope"

By Hannah Vickers

An interview with a Peruvian film maker living far from home.

"Even during the most difficult times there is always hope"

Daniel Gras Pujalt (center) working on the movie (Photo courtesy of: Nick Steele)

Peruvian writer and filmmaker Daniel Gras Pujalt has lived in Argentina and Brazil and now lives and works in New York. He’s currently working on his new project, short film, NUMB. Peru this Week got in touch with him to find out about the film and how he was getting on in New York.

Daniel left Peru at seven, when his father got a job in Argentina, but the family returned every year to spend summer with family and friends in Arequipa and Lima. He returned to Lima for a brief time as a young man and then moved to Brazil to study TV production. “I never lost my love for my homeland,” said Daniel.

He loves New York, but misses Peru. “It is always difficult to adapt to a new culture! You miss your friends and family, but on the other hand you make lots of new friends! The good thing about New York is that there is a little bit of every part of the world here. As for Peru, it’s such a strong community and Peruvian food is finally being recognized internationally. That is definitively what I love and miss the most! Peruvian food!”

Daniel loves history and looking back to how things used to be, before he was alive. He used to walk around Lima and Arequipa when he was young, trying to imagine what things were like in the old days there. “Being from a country that has so much amazing history was a great influence. And even though I moved away, I never lost my love for Peruvian historical literature.”

Sarah, who plays the main female lead (Photo courtesy of: Nick Steele)

Daniel says that being away from your native country changes your perspective: “It causes you to become stronger, more resilient and to really think about things differently. Your world view changes so much. It also makes you realize that if you want these kinds of opportunities, that you have to go after them and be willing to put your all into it. That is true on a personal level and with work.”

When we got in touch with Daniel, he was in the middle of preparing to start shooting. “I’m really excited and a little scared, honestly. But I have such confidence in the concept, my cast and crew. We began shooting this week and it was so great! To finally be at this moment and be able to begin the shoot, after all the preparation, is incredibly exciting.”

His short movie, NUMB is a love story set in 1940’s New York. Daniel told Peru this Week that he is fascinated by that period.

“I do love the 1940s, because there was something almost idealized about the time. Even though it was a time of great turmoil in the world, the people of that period still were so hopeful and resilient. I really wanted to show that even in those darkest of times, there is always hope.”

NUMB is being made with support from people on Kickstarter, a ‘crowdfunding platform,’ where people with big ideas but low funds can ask for support from online fans. Daniel says that he wouldn’t have been able to make the movie without the support he’s received from people.

“It’s been fantastic! We reached our initial funding goal a few days ago just as we began filming, so that was fantastic. I have been so touched by the level of support and encouragement I have received from the backers. They really want to see the project succeed and I think they feel like a big part of it. When a big Hollywood movie gets made, there are several big producers that give huge sums of money to fund it. This is very similar, but I have lots of amazing producers that I am working with, who have given what they can to contribute to the project.

And, there may even be a Peru-based movie sometime in the future…

“Peru is such beautiful country and has such an interesting history. I would love an opportunity to make a film set in Peru. I have already written a script based in colonial Lima, in the year of 1747, which is intended to be a feature film. It is an epic story of a family that is forced on a dangerous quest, crossing the country on their way to Rio de Janeiro. I have linked the story to historical events and, of course, the precarious reality of those times. This is a project I am very excited to work on in the future. When the right time comes, and with support, it will be made.”

To find out more about the movie, and to support the Kickstarter project, you can visit his kickstarter page.

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