Javier, a 19 year-old Ecuadorian works transporting undocumented immigrants from the Mexican border to stash houses in Southern California. Working his way up a gang of human traffickers, everything changes the day he meets Cristina, a 14 year-old girl from his same hometown in Ecuador. His memories and long forgotten past is uncovered when he is asked to deliver her to a sex trafficking organization, Javier will have to decide between being loyal to the man that gave him everything or save Cristina’s life from a fatal destiny.
Santiago was born in the small town of Loja, Ecuador. From a very early age he developed a special bond with the arts always relating himself with music, cinema and other forms of artistic expression. He graduated from Bethany College, with a BA in Film and Television and a minor in Music. He also studied documentary at NHK Japan with a full scholarship. For a period of 5 years Santiago worked for a documentary TV-Show in Ecuador, producing and directing more than 80 mini doc pieces around the world. As Head of Production at Ecuavisa, an Ecuadorian TV network, he has written, directed, and produced several TV programs and documentaries including a six-episode drama called PARECE QUE FUE AYER which he show run. In 2012, he wrote and directed his first documentary feature film, called ESTRELLA 14. The film was released in theatres nationally and voted the best film of the year. Subsequently, he started the production of his second documentary feature film about the Ecuadorian National soccer team which has recently completed production. With a full scholarship awarded by the Ecuadorian Government Santiago just finished his MFA in film Directing at the American Film Institute where he directed 4 narrative short films three of which he also wrote. He is the recipient of the DGA Student Film Awards Jury Award and first Prize at the Hispanic Heritage Short Film Awards as well as recognitions by the California Senate and the City of los Angeles for his valuable contribution to the latino community. He is currently working on developing several feature film scripts. One of them, El Viaje, was shortlisted at the 2016 Sundance Lab.
The Fare is a project that was first planted in my head more than 10 years ago. As an immigrant myself, I experienced, and witnessed in others, how the American dream of starting a new and better life pretty quick turns into a struggle for survival. What most people find, when they arrive to their destination, is only comparable to their worst fears. The Fare is a story about the end of a journey and the beginning of something new. Javier, a young Ecuadorian Immigrant, came to the US with nothing but hope just to find only the chance to forget. To forget his past and to forget who he was. To survive. When he is at the verge of becoming part of of human trafficking gang he meets Cristina, a young girl from his home town. She will be the catalyst to bring back memories and a past that is long gone for him.
I wasn’t interested in telling a story about the “theme” of immigration or interested in making a political statement. I do think immigration is something primordial for everyone in our society to understand and have a position on and it should certainly be a priority for politicians and policy makers, but I also think there are other approaches to the theme. Approaches that are more human is what interest me more as a film maker. For me, film is a tool to explore and express human condition, and hopefully, through an artistic vision, touch people at a personal and emotional level. The Fare is an attempt to do that. It is a story that connects deep fibers of my own experience with the curiosity to explore characters that are forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. The narrative follows a realistic succession of events that came across after an extensive and long research process. Character’s actions and decisions hopefully reflect their humanity. I’m interested in showing people that fear, harm, love and regret under specific and strong conditions.
For me, Javier (main character) is not only a person that crossed the Mexican border into the US like thousands do. It’s a guy with a life that is the result of his own decisions and the instinct to survive, just like the thousands that, like him, cross the border every day. I think is our responsibility, as society to put facts, human motivations and real reasons behind a highly stereotyped and dehumanized theme. As a director, I was interested in exploring the contradiction of the main character’s actions. I was interested in revealing his strategy to hide from the inevitable, the brutal, the unacceptable and the truth of his being. This led to my decision of telling the story through a single narrative point of view, at least for most of the time.
One memory comes to my head when I think about my time living alone in the US. I came hoping to find something good for my life.The struggle, the limitation and often times discrimination where constant. The ideal broke down to pieces. The urge to look back overtook my days and my mind.I had found a dark road. I constantly asked myself about what I wanted and what motivated me when I came here. I couldn’t remember. I felt like a ghost and often time had trouble recognizing myself as a human being. I woke up one night and I couldn’t breathe. I sat up and tried to calm down until the aire slowly went through my lungs again. Then it was only silence; and with no apparent reason I started to cry. I cried like I haven´t been able to do for years. The inability to breathe was a way to exteriorize something that I had kept inside because I couldn’t be exposed. I needed to survive. The Fare is a project that was conceived with the intention to understand that moment. How will the main character, Javier, will find ways to swim up to the surface and breathe… just to see, at the end, if there is something left for him.
Check out the trailer: