Magazine article Screen International

Pituka Ortega Heilbron, 'La Ruta'

Magazine article Screen International

Pituka Ortega Heilbron, 'La Ruta'

Article excerpt

The director of IFF Panama discusses her eye-opening documentary about the country's public transportation system.

Despite a pledge by the former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli to upgrade the country's network, it remains oversubscribed and prone to accidents. Heilbron tells Jeremy Kay about the tragedy that haunts her and inspired the film. La Ruta (The Route) premieres on April 9.

Where did the idea for your film come from?

On October 2006, there was a horrible accident in a bus in which 18 people - children, women and men - were burnt alive due to deficiencies in the maintenance of the bus and deadly safety issues. Almost at the same time, the Panama Canal expansion was approved by the Panamanian nation in a plebiscite and the future of the country looked brighter than ever. Two years after the accident, the economy was booming, the country was flying high, Panama was on its way to becoming a nation of the 21st century - yet nothing was happening with the transportation issue. These victims died due to carelessness and [a lack of love]. I never forgot them - I couldn't - and I just wanted to say something about it.

What do you hope people take away from it?

The film is filled with images and sequences of moments in everyday life that most of us see, yet we don't really see. Perhaps for a moment, after watching this little film, there will be some pause when we glance at our surroundings, just perhaps.

Where did the financing come from?

Local and international film funds and a local TV station. …

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