PANAMA — Panamanian director Enrique Castro Rios is getting closer to completing his first feature “Sultán.”
The film is in post-production, having wrapped principal photography last Aug. 3. Castro Rios is about to welcome a powerful new partner to the project: Panama’s Medcom media corporation, responsible in Panama for three TV networks (Telemetro, RPC TV and Mall TV), two cable channels (ECO TV and Cableonda Sports), and two radio stations (RPC Radio and Caliente), all of which also operate their own Websites and social media networks. Medcom will be contributing financially to the project, as well as offering the all-important marketing support when the film is released in Panama later this year.
“Sultán’s” first financial support was announced at the closing night of the Panama Film Festival in 2013, when it became the first feature to be supported by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Fondo Cine Cinema Fund. Paid in installments, the award was a very respectable $700,000 from a total budget that Castro Rios expects to top out at around the $1.1 million mark by completion.
The film also counts on the support of the Ibermedis Fund and of the Film Development Fund of Colombia (FDC). “Sultán” is a co-production between Sultan el Film (Panama) and Milagros Producciones (Colombia).
The feature is set in 1999 and tells the story of a boy, his mother and grandmother, all survivors of the U.S. military invasion of 1989, and how their differences — racial and otherwise — are addressed by a ghost from their past. The cast includes Nina Vincent from Panama and Jerónimo Henao of Colombia, as well as Panamanian newcomers Delicia Montañez and Alex Jiménez.
The film, Castro Rios explains, touches on race relations and segregation in Panama and within families. In the film, the grandmother has married whiter, part of a mindset to “improve the race”; her son marries a girl of West Indian descent, which the mother sees as a “backward” step. When the son is killed during the U.S. invasion, racial and other tensions drive the grandmother, daughter-in-law and her young son apart, until a ghost from the past comes to try and reunite them.
Castro Rios’ previous credits include the short “Wata,” which at the Icarus Film Festival in Guatemala in 2010 was chosen as the best short from Central America.