Last December the filmmaker Kacho López Mari and the producer Tristana Robles They were in the city of Miami, filming in the middle of the pandemic.
They had already done other remote and face-to-face jobs, but smaller things, so there was the excitement of returning to the film set for a large project, although this time with new demands and protocols due to Covid-19.
The job that held them was “Origin”, audiovisual project of the Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes, with whom they had collaborated on two previous projects, “My plans are to love you” and “The history”, for which they won a Latin Grammy in 2015 in the category of best long music video.
With his tenth studio album, Juanes wanted to pay tribute to the artists and music that made him up, recording versions of hits by Julio Jaramillo, Carlos Gardel, Juan Luis Guerra, Fito Páez, Bob Marley and Joaquín Sabina, among others. To accompany this sound material, he decided to make a documentary, which he entrusted to the production company Zapatero Films, by Kacho López Mari and Tristana Robles, who devised this project, which is available on the platform Amazon Prime Video.
For this audiovisual work, the couple has just been nominated for the seventh time for a Latin Grammy in the category of best long-form music video. Although each nomination has been important in the careers of these Puerto Ricans, this one undoubtedly occupies a very special place.
A week after filming for “Origen” ended, director Kacho López Mari suffered a bicycle accident that almost cost him his life. In those days he was preparing for a cycling event with which he would go around Puerto Rico, along with other friends and acquaintances, in posthumous tribute to his friend, the filmmaker Esteban Lima, who died in 2019.
As part of that process, he went out on the morning of December 18 to train. As he was speeding down a hill from Highway 181 in Trujillo Alto, he turned a curve and came face-to-face with a truck that had stopped when he saw another cyclist who had exited before him. Kacho tried to brake and maneuver, but it was too late.
“I don’t remember, but they tell me that I hit the brakes last, and I put the truck headfirst. Thanks to having a (protective) helmet, I survive because my skull is fractured into two pieces, my cheekbone was fractured into three pieces, my right eye was fractured on the side, the bone of the crown of the eye and part of the crown of my eye was pulverized “, he recounted one morning from Filmes Zapatero’s offices in Santurce.
At his side, as he narrates what happened, is Tristana Robles, a colleague from work and life, who is still moved by remembering that day when their lives were transformed.
After the accident, Kacho was rushed to the Medical Center where he remained hospitalized for two weeks, to later continue his recovery at home. He had several interventions, including one to place titanium on the right cheekbone and another to do the same on the crown of the right eye. From that period, he remembers practically nothing, since he suffered a cerebral trauma (TBI), which kept him unconscious. What he does recall are some of his hallucinations, among them that he saw the late French mime Marcel Marceau, whom he later transformed into the artist Marcel Duchamp.
“I don’t remember being in the hospital. I woke up at my house one day in January, weeks after the crash … I saw dogs where there were none, I was amazed that I saw Marcel Marceu, that is, I was tripping, and my brain was settling and reconnecting. To all of these, Tristana is taking care of me and finishing ‘Origin’ ”, she says.
The producer nods her head and narrates how she lived that period, taking care of and attending to her partner and father of her two daughters, since she gave continuity to the “Origin” project, which she did not want to put on pause because she was sure that Kacho it would recover.
“When Kacho has the accident, I felt a great pressure, first because I didn’t know what was going to happen. He was completely asleep and didn’t know if he was going to be with me or not. “, Tristana recalls with evident emotion, every time she reviews how music was the best medicine for her partner in those days.
“It was a very incredible thing because when he was in the hospital, he was not aware of where he was, suddenly he played music that he played on guitar or that he liked and hummed it. That was the hope because I knew he was responding and I kept putting music on him ”, he says.
Thanks to the help of the psychologist Domingo Márquez, who is also a friend of the couple and who was with Kacho the day he had the accident, Tristana was able to spend those complex weeks, as he was the person who guided her in the process and encouraged her to continue. with the work of “Origin”.
“When I started receiving calls from Juanes ‘team – who knew about the accident, but not about the seriousness – Domingo was at home (giving Kacho therapy) and I said,’ I don’t know what to do with the project, I still give it up and already’. And he told me, ‘there is no one who knows Kacho better than you, you can finish this, break him, push what you know he wanted’, and he was the one who pushed me to continue “, was deeply grateful.
Around January 7, Kacho López Mari woke up little by little and the memories returned. In that period, she was able to see the first cut of the documentary that Tristana and the Filmes Zapatero team had already made. Later, the couple was able to complete the process.
This is how “Origin” came to light, a project that both have very close to their hearts because it was conceived in the midst of what doctors call “a miracle”. The director has had a good recovery, sometimes he still feels discomfort in his face and does not see very well through his right eye, but his retinologist understands that he will recover it little by little.
For all this, being nominated for the seventh time for the Latin Grammy Awards with this work is so special. “After all that happened and we managed to complete the project, which at one point we thought was incomplete, you did not see the light at the end of the tunnel, nor did you know what was going to happen, that we managed to complete the project and be nominated … For me that is what makes this nomination important, more than any other “Tristana assures.
Kacho adds that, in times where it is increasingly difficult to be nominated for an award like this one, the fact that the Latin Recording Academy has selected them once again is a great recognition of what they do. “Receiving a nomination after six, I saw it as almost impossible. Obviously, we do not work for the award, for the Grammy, but when it is given, it does give a different satisfaction. On the other hand, being completely honest, a seventh nomination has already passed the euphoria of the first a bit. The experience gives you the opportunity to receive it calmer, with more pause … One is in a different place in the race “, says the filmmaker.
READY FOR THE FEATURE FILM
Reviewing their experiences, the couple affirms that one of the great lessons of this entire experience has been to value time and know that the time to do what they want on a personal and professional level is now. For this reason, the filmmaker is ready to give shape to his first feature film, something that he has been working with Tristana for several years.
“What I think the experience has given me, at least now, is a different way of evaluating things. And on a professional level, it is to value projects and what we do. I think that this has made me go out and look for what I really want to look for, which perhaps is the feature film or another type of project that I see as a natural evolution of what we have already been doing for 20 years that are commercial and music videos “The creator of videos such as “La gasoline”, by Daddy Yankee, stands out; “Abayarde”, by Tego Calderón, and “Jaleo”, by Ricky Martin, just to mention a few of his long and successful career.
Kacho is convinced that the film is the “next link” in his career, and is already in the process of shaping his first feature film, which could be titled “Comején”, a story in which he would address issues such as colonialism, creativity and greed, among others.
Meanwhile, Tristana – who has already ventured into cinema with three productions, the most recent being “La pecera”, by filmmaker Glorimar Marrero, who is filming – says that if there was something left to her by the accident her partner suffered, it was “to value much more the personal and what I spend my time with ”. “That rush to work all the time for what when we don’t have time to share with ourselves”.
That pause, Kacho López Mari says that he lived it when the pandemic arrived and everything stopped. From taking 90 airplanes a year, he became calm at home, with his daughters, to exercise and eat better, which allowed him to lose 40 pounds. It was precisely that good physical condition that he was in that greatly helped him in his recovery.
“For me, the assessment of the pause comes from the pandemic, rather than the accident,” he needs to later say that today he can say that he feels “better than ever.”
With that clarity and with the desire to do what they are passionate about, Kacho and Tristana will continue to work focused on “doing what we want”. After 20 years, and without intending to, both have reached the “origin”, the reason why they started this career that has given them so much satisfaction. “What we want is to find that rhythm with the cinema that allows us to do our projects. Talk about what we want to talk about ”, concludes Kacho.
The Latin Grammy Awards ceremony will take place on November 18 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
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Kacho López and Tristana Robles celebrate much more than a Latin Grammy nomination