Pat y Paco
Pat y Paco
An Ajijic community film project
Pat y Paco is the story of two boys living in separate worlds in the village of Ajijic, Jalisco, in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.
Patrick is a blond thirteen-year-old ex-pat boy who lives with his wealthy grandmother in an expensive home at the edge of Lake Chapala in the centre of the village. She is overprotective and keeps him on a short leash. He’s allowed only brief forays to the nearby pier and malecon.
Patrick is a dreamer who longs for adventure, longs to experience the real world beyond the ten-foot stone walls of his home. He enjoys feeding Vino Blanco, the albino donkey tied up nearby outside Yves’ Restaurant. He would love to explore the rest of the village north of his house, the plaza and the carretera, but isn’t allowed to go that far without his grandmother. Patrick dreams of freedom - owning a bicycle and exploring the village. He’s saved up enough to buy one but his grandmother says “No.”
Living in the same village is Paco, 13, a street-wise Mexican boy from a poor family. Like Patrick his parents are missing. He lives sporadically with an ill grandmother and indolent uncle. Paco has a bicycle. He needs it to earn money, making deliveries for local restaurants and merchants. Paco’s customers depend on him. He’s a quiet boy, likeable and reliable.
Janie, a 45-year-old woman who works in one of the restaurants, looks out for Paco. Sometimes Paco is afraid to go home at night and ends up sleeping on a bench in the plaza. If Janie finds him there she takes him to spend the night in her apartment. She buys him clothing when he needs it and encourages him to attend school.
One day, as Paco makes his deliveries, his bicycle is stolen. He’s devastated. He looks everywhere. He needs that bike. His livelihood depends on finding it.
The following day Patrick finds a bicycle dumped in the lake. He’s excited. A dream come true. The chain is broken so he takes it to his friend and father-figure Yves, owner of the restaurant next door, who promises he will repair it.
The next day, when the bike is repaired, Patrick takes it for a spin on the malecon. He’s on top of the world. At the end of the day he hides the bike under the pier below the Tequila Republic bar. Days later, still enjoying his bicycle, he sees Rosemary, an 80-year-old friend of the family, stumble and drop her cane. Patrick throws down his bike and runs to help her. At that moment they hear a crunching sound. They turn to see a truck has driven over the front wheel of the bike and bent it out of shape. Despondent,Patrick drags the broken bike back to Yves' Restaurant.
Paco, sitting on the pier, sees the blond boy dragging the broken bike across the sand. Paco can’t believe his eyes. It’s his bike! Furious, he chases after the gringo thief, accusing him of stealing it. To his surprise Pat comes back at him in fluent Spanish. They tug at the bike. Paco calls Patrick a thief. Patrick insists he found the bike. The war of words, all in Spanish, escalates and leads to a vicious fight.
Yves hears the commotion and runs out to stop the boys. He pulls them apart and assures Paco that Pat did not steal his bike, that he found it abandoned in the lake. Patrick tells a subdued Paco he’ll pay to repair the wheel. Yves tells the boys to try to be friends and come into his restaurant. They can order anything they like. Reluctantly the boys follow him.
And so Patrick and Paco’s lives converge through the actions of an unknown bicycle thief, a kind and concerned Yves, his mystical white donkey and a magical Lake Chapala. Yves, the narrator of this story, discovers months later that his dream has come true - that these two boys from separate worlds have become close friends. As the film ends we catch glimpses of the boys enjoying their new friendship.
Pat y Paco has an allegoric quality reflecting the dual nature of the two cultures living together in Ajijic. It is a tender, heart-warming story with fable-like overtones about how two youngsters living in the same Mexican town, but in very different worlds, become close friends. This friendship between a protected and privileged American youngster and a Mexican street boy happens through the intervention of an unknown bicycle thief, the prodding of a kindly, understanding adult, a mystical white donkey and a magical Lake Chapala.
It is a tribute to friendship and to inter-cultural respect and co-operation in both the Spanish and English languages.
Pat y Paco has the timeless qualities of a fairy tale or fable, and unfolds in the Latin realismo magico style.
More than two years after the start of production we all recognized there now was added significance to the Pat y Paco story. This story of friendship between two youngsters, one Mexican, the other American, is a modest but impassioned antidote to the ugly and violent political environment that poisons the relationship between the people of Mexico and the U,S. It's important that filmmakers speak up when faced with brutal and inhumane efforts to deport people, build walls of separation and tear families apart. This film is about bringing people together.
Key creative professionals in this production have provided their services without pay.
It has been a labour of love and a realization that this was a compelling
and appealing story with strong social relevance.
John Friesen - Writer/Director/Producer
John has worked as a professional in the film industry as an actor and screenwriter for the past thirty years. He has performed lead and principal roles in hundreds of stage, television and movie productions, Canadian and American. He was twice nominated for National ACTRA Acting awards. He trained as an actor in England at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. He’s had a number of screenplays optioned by independent producers and most recently spent 3 years developing a six-hour television drama series for Canada’s largest television network, the CBC, as creator, head writer, and producer.
Manfred Guthe CSC - Director of Photography
Kodak Lifetime Achievement Award winner Manfred is one of Canada’s top cinematographers with many credits for feature films, television dramas, and series episodes. He won the prestigious CSC Award (Canadian Society of Cinematographers) for his work on the popular Road to Avonlea series produced for the CBC Network and Disney. Among other awards and nominations, he won the Best Cinematography Award at the New York Film Festival. His fine DOP work on Butterbox Babies helped win the CSC Award for Best Television Movie or Mini-series. Ajijic’s Pat y Paco production is honoured and thrilled to have Manfred contributing his skills and talent to our production.
Natalia Garza - Camera Assistant
Our Camera Assistant, Natalia Garza, also a volunteer, joined the production from Mexico City.
Max Gonzalez - Sound Person
Max Gonzalez came from Guadalajara to volunteer. The recording challenges for this production were difficult and so his knowledge and experience were very welcome.
Pat y Paco blends elements of narrative and documentary cinema to blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction. It's rare to have a script emerge so fully from a place and its people. To have the towns people become the actors, playing themselves, in the actual locations, is even more rare.
The film is a genuine non-profit community project. The story illustrates the importance of co-operation and mutual respect between generations and cultures. So does the production. It was made possible with local residents, Mexicans, Americans and Canadians, young and old, working together as volunteers on a passion project.
Participants were motivated by the opportunity to tell a story close to their hearts and their experiences. They were eager to convey the importance of mutual respect and cooperation, and the dual nature of the two cultures living together in their town, Ajijic. Thus Pat y Paco, the story of two boys, so culturally different, coming together and becoming close friends, reflects the expat-immigrant population and local Mexican people and how they can live together in harmony. It is a tribute to inter-cultural co-operation in both languages, Spanish and English.
The production has more than forty Ajijic locations, twenty speaking parts and over one-hundred background performers. All actors are local residents. A crew of more than a dozen volunteers was required for the two-week shoot in April and May of 2016. Two more days of filming were completed in May, 2018. Post-production continues through 2018 and 2019.
The script was written winter of 2012-13. Pre-production work took place during the winter of 2013/14. Actual production was postponed for two years due to major surgeries the producer/writer John Friesen underwent. The production (actual filming) stage finally arrived in 2016. It's expected that final production editing will be completed by late 2019, provided funding is secured along the way.
Performers, crew members, including the scriptwriter, producer, director of photography and editors, were unpaid volunteers. The production budget will cover costs related to: transportation, accommodations, communications, advertising and publicity, equipment rentals, camera, wardrobe, props, clerical, craft services (food), rough assemblies, trailer creation, website construction, post-production fine edits, sound design, colour grading, exhibition, etc. It will be reached through a mix of local sponsorships, foundation and government grants, donations from individuals and organizations.
We intend to find funding for the project in both Mexico and U.S.