Artist’s debut documentary a personal look at child migrant crisis
By Jared Whitlock.
Artist Santos Orellana recently made the jump into filmmaking with “Catracholandia,” a soulful documentary that follows him across his native country of Honduras as he paints murals for orphanages.
Through art, he’s able to connect with child orphans, offering a window into their all-too-common plight, and by extension, reasons for the surge of unaccompanied kids entering the United States.
“When I was painting on the orphanage walls, kids and social workers there naturally opened up and told me their stories,” he said. “By watching their interviews, you get a firsthand look at this important story.”
The first orphanage mural he painted was in his childhood hometown of Santa Barbara, Honduras — a place he left at the age of 11 to immigrate to the United States. Given his roots, Orellana said the documentary was a “deeply personal” experience.
“I see myself in some of the kids I interviewed.”
Orellana has painted murals from San Diego to Saudi Arabia. Yet his month-long filmmaking trip was particularly dangerous given the prevalence of drug cartels, along with a government that’s volatile toward filmmakers who report on sensitive matters.
So why take the risk?
Orellana explained he’s never been one to stay in his comfort zone, and he was motivated to shed light on a critical issue.
“You think you know the story of the child migrant crisis, but it’s something else to hear it in the words of children.”
He also wanted to gift murals to the orphanages, after seeing countless times how art buoys a community’s spirit. Orellana is new to filmmaking, but the documentary wasn’t the first time he has successfully navigated uncharted waters. Prior to being an artist, he was a successful biotech chemist.
“It’s important to dive into what really matters to you,” Orellana said.
The documentary is due to be completed in late February 2016, and will be available shortly after through various online avenues and potentially at film festivals.