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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

We Follow Up With The Last Colony's Director Juan Agustín Márquez

Back in March, we had the chance to chat with award-winning filmmaker
Juan Agustín Márquez regarding his documentary The Last Colony. The
film, which deals with Puerto Rico's long-running sovereignty limbo, got
an enthusiastic reception both in the island and outside of it. The documen-
tary has finally been released on DVD today, after having been available for 
home viewing on Vimeo. We recently caught up with Mr. Márquez and asked 
him about the success of the film, the political situation in Puerto Rico, and 
his present and future projects:

How has the documentary been 
received? Has the reception by the 
public met your expectations?

We could not be happier with
the reception the film has gotten.
The film opened theatrically in
Puerto Rico on April 30, against
none other than The Avengers,
and it did really well. It stayed in
three theaters for six consecutive
weeks. Also, we’ve been fortunate
to have had the film showcased and
screened in many other venues, such
as the Library of Congress, the Fes-
tival Latinoamericano in Helsinki,
the US Congress (where it was
shown to a full house), the Orlando
Film Festival, among many others.

Have you received any major criticisms regarding the film?

Can’t say that we have. Nothing negative. We made sure that we got all the
facts right. Most of the criticism has gone directly to the people that we in-
terviewed, but not to us. All the press was very positive and we get a lot of
comments on our social media sites. Sometimes people have complained that
we did not talk about the debt enough. Those people have to understand that
we finished the film in 2013 and that we wanted to focus on the election of
2012. There is only so much you can fit into a 90 minute film.

Do you feel that The Last Colony has helped jumpstart the conversa-
tion regarding Puerto Rico's status?

Yes. I think there are a combination of forces at play, including the conver-
sation about the $74 billion in debt, and it all came together with the timing
of the film. I think the film has been very helpful in exposing the debate of
Puerto Rico’s status and has helped put in a historical context the conversa-
tion about Puerto Rico’s unpayable debt. We finished the filming in late
2013 and many things have happened since then regarding Puerto Rico’s
situation. I think the most important element we captured and portrayed in
the film is our sad political divisions.

Do you expect the issue of 
Puerto Rico's status to move 
forward any time soon?

Most people are not as optimistic
as I am. I think, in my lifetime,
we will see the end of colonial
rule over Puerto Rico. I am not
100% sure that statehood will
happen or that full independen-
ce will happen, but I am sure
that decolonization will happen.
There is a saying in Puerto Rico
that goes “no hay mal que dure 
100 años ni cuerpo que lo agu-
ante” which roughly translates
to “this can’t go on for 100 years”.
I think we are about to witness
a tipping point in Puerto Rico’s
colonial history.

What do you think about the general political and economic 
situation on the island right now?

I think Puerto Rico needs a real leader and I don’t think any of the
current candidates have the ability to unite the island. I think we need
someone who can inspire Puerto Ricans to come together. We need a
great communicator. We need someone that we can all trust. We need
a non-politician to rise up.  Someone we can all follow. Someone who
has credibility, intelligence and a clean record. I don’t think that leader
has emerged yet. But, like with all revolutions, a leader will rise. I don’t
think we know who that person is and I don’t think any of the current
players are that person. In terms of the economy, I wish I had some ans-
wers but when you are in a $74 billion hole, I’m not even sure if there
is an answer.

Where do you go from here in your film making? Do you have 
any new projects in the works? 

I have a TV show called Té Para Tres and we focus on rising musicians
from all of Latin America. We just got nominated for an EMMY and
the third season will start airing on October 24, 2015. I’m really exci-
ted about this show. I started the show about the same time I started The
Last Colony. I’ve been working on both at the same time. It has been
amazing to see it grow into a national show sponsored by a huge brand
like Lexus.

In terms of film making, I am seriously considering doing a sequel to
The Last Colony. But like my friend and mentor Noel Quiñones told
me repeatedly, “Financing is the foundation of everything.”

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