SPAIN, GERMANY, UK / 2017 / Spanish / Color / DCP / 86 min
Director: Chico Pereira
Script: Chico Pereira, Manuel Pereira, Gabriel Molera
Photography: Julian Schwanitz
Editing: Nick Gibbon
Sound: Mark Deas
Producers: Ingmar Trost, Sonja Henrici
Production Manager: Manuel Pereira
World Sales: Scottish Documentary Institute
73-year-old Manuel, who lives a simple life in a naturally lush village in the south of Spain, decides to throw caution to the wind and set out on an epic journey. He sets his course for the US, accompanied by his beloved donkey and dog. He plans to travel along the Trail of Tears, the 3,500 km route once walked by the Cherokee nation. He proceeds with his severe journey despite heart disease, arthritis, the aches and pains of old age, and even the orders of his doctor. Along the way he fosters a bond with his animal companions that goes beyond the boundaries of species. Will they really reach the US? This is a road movie that celebrates the life of a man trying to be free and true to himself, despite his advanced age.
[Director’s Statement] Manolo (Manuel) has always been an inspiration to me. He is my uncle, and my godfather. When I was a child, he used to take me and his other nephews to the countryside for “adventures,” which basically consisted of the sightings of wild animals, fantastic stories about the countryside, or mysterious trips into the unknown. Thinking back, they were ordinary moments that he would turn into fantasy for us. All of us were fascinated by this character and sometimes we would wait at eight in the morning outside our houses to see Manolo passing by, begging him to take us with him. But one day, Manolo divorced from my auntie and a terrible silence became established between the two families. Many years passed with no contact—our relationship was interrupted at some point in our childhood and stayed there, frozen in our memories.
It was Christmas Day 2012 when I visited Manolo. I was about to move to the US and I felt a strong need to see him. I recognized the same man as always: his small eyes, his big ears, his deep voice and his same love for American hats. But something had changed: after two heart attacks, he now walked and walked with his new best friend, a beautiful Andalusian donkey called Gorrión (“Sparrow”).
We spent hours talking, and we promised that never again would there be silence between us. We wanted to resume our relationship from the very moment that it had stopped.
This film is both the continuation of a broken relationship, and our biggest adventure together yet. And what a big fantasy a film is!
Chico Pereira was born in 1979 in Almadén, Spain. After making several award-winning short fiction films, he shifted towards documentary by devising minimalist narratives inspired and performed by real-life characters. As part of his MFA research at Edinburgh Napier University, Chico started combining fiction and documentary film techniques. Pablo’s Winter (2012) was his graduation film, and debut feature. Widely admired, it won awards at DOK Leipzig, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and opened Documentary Fortnight 2013 at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. A short doc called Polaris (2012), about Filipino fishermen on Scottish boats, followed. Chico is getting his PhD in Social Anthropology and Ethnographic Film at the University of California, Santa Cruz, funded by a scholarship granted by La Caixa Foundation. Donkeyote is his second documentary feature.