IDFA 2019: Behind the Blood
Making her new documentary Behind The Blood required Loretta van der Horst to return to Honduras, the country of her birth. The film was shot in San Pedro Sula, a city where life is very cheap. With soldiers, cops and drug dealers all on the streets, levels of violence are very high.
The project has its origins in a research trip to Honduras that Van der Horst made as part of a postgraduate degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. Her teachers allowed her to combine written material with the development of a documentary in her dissertation. "I was there for two months writing a thesis and interviewing people for the documentary, which helped build my network," the director remembers of her first trip to the town. She had heard about a pastor, Daniel Pacheco, who was trying to "make peace" in one of the city's most dangerous neighbourhoods. The moment she met him, she knew Pacheco was "special" and wanted to tell his story. She wasn't able to stay for long but kept in touch with the pastor by phone after she left. Eventually, she was able to return. This time, she brought a cameraman with her.
As long as she was with the Pastor, the director felt safe. He was widely respected, knew everybody and could intercede if there were problems. "As soon as he wasn't there, that was when things were a little more tricky." Through Pacheco, she met a troubled hitman, Matathan. And via other acquaintances she also got in touch with a third protagonist - the TV news reporter Orlin Castro, who had become inured to violence after covering murder after murder.
The locals were surprised when she told them about her own Honduran roots. "They thought it was cool," she says. "They liked it, they embraced it." She had left the country as a very young child and feels herself to be Dutch but felt a natural empathy with her Honduran hosts.
Van Der Horst spent 60 days filming in the city. She and her editors then spent several months editing the project. Pacheco was shown an early version. With continued violence in Honduras, and an unending exodus of migrants heading to the USA, she hopes the film will give the Pastor a bigger platform for positive change in his community.
SEE NL Magazine #37 November 2019 / IDFA Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.