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Friday, April 24, 2015

Filmmaker Juan Agustín Márquez Talks About 'The Last Colony'

Puerto Rican filmmaker Juan Agustín Márquez's Emmy Award-winning 2010
documentary, 100,000, dealt with his home island's deplorable dog overpopulation
problem.The director is now turning his attention to Puerto Rico once again in
another English-language documentary. But  this time he's dealing with a more
macro, and in many ways, more sensitive issue: Puerto Rico's political status.
Márquez's new film, The Last Colony, takes a hard, unflinching  look at the
island's 117-year-long status as a territory of the United States, and what it
would take to achieve decolonization.

The limbo that Puerto Rico has long  been in -- neither a state nor a country --
has fueled a decades-long identity crisis among Boricuas, but it's an issue that
is seldom talked about outside of the island. It is clear that The Last Colony is
seeking to broaden the dialogue regarding Puerto Rico's situation, especially
in the mainland United States, where the issue is puzzingly obscure. This
looks to be the main reason why the film was made in English.  The docu-
mentary also features opinions from numerous political figures on all sides
of the status debate, providing for a more complete and balanced view of the
subject matter. The Puerto Rico Monitor recently caught up with the director
to talk about his latest film:

Why a documentary on Puerto Rico's status?

I'm Puerto Rican but I went to high school in Massachusetts. Since age of 16
I've had to answer many, many times the question about Puerto Rico's status.
It has been very clear to me for a very long time that we needed to expose the
status debate to the rest of the world.

How long did it take to produce the film?

We started in 2012 with the general election and the plebiscite. We also
went to Washington DC to see the aftermath of the plebiscite in DC. Overall,
production took about 4 weeks total spread out in different moments. What
took a long time was post production. Editing, putting all these thoughts
together was the real challenge.

Do you favor any particular status option?

I favor the decolonization of Puerto Rico, in whichever form that may be. 

Do you feel optimistic regarding PR's status being resolved any time 

I have to be optimistic.

Why is that?

I have seen how other documentaries (including my Emmy winning film,
100,000)  have had a deep impact in different social issues. The Cove is a
great example of a film solving a big issue. Blackfish has done wonders to
shut down Sea World. My film, 100,000 has helped reduce the overpopulation
problem of dogs in Puerto Rico. I think films can be very powerful. I think
if we get The Last Colony to the right audience, we might be able to force
the conversation about Puerto Rico. I want the US to also have a say in
our status.

What has been the main obstacle in decolonizing Puerto Rico?

I think fear plays a big role. I think there is fear of rejection from the US
and fear of independence. But these fears have their roots. We present
them in the film. But I think fear of change is the biggest obstacle.

When will the film be released and how can people see it?

In Puerto Rico, it will come out on April 30th at Fine Arts [Cinemas]. We
are working  with a distributor to take the film to the USA market. 

(The Last Colony will also premiere on April 30 at Cinema Bar 1950 in


You can visit Mr. Márquez's website at http://juan.mixform.com/.

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