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Dominican Film Showcase Continues to Inspire with Docu-Drama “The Mountain”

May 22, 2014

Nothing is impossible or out of reach if you work hard enough according to the documentary “The Mountain”. That was the strong message at the Dominican Film Showcase (DFS) program on its second night showing on Thursday, May 22 at Symphony Space in Upper Manhattan. The screening of the inspirational film was made possible by GFDD and FUNGLODE in collaboration with the Dominican Cultural Commission in the United States, and the Dominican Film Festival in New York (DFFNY).

GFDD’s Executive Director, Natasha Despotovic opened the proceedings welcoming the audience to the Upper West Side. The auditorium was full to capacity, and  guests included several internationally feted Dominican actors, including Manny Perez, Laura Gómez and Solly Durán, who came out in force to support this extraordinarily unique film — the first of its kind to be produced in the Dominican Republic.  Despotovic  was also delighted to notice that there were a large group of returning guests from the successful opening film screening “Biodegradable” the prior evening. However, before the start  of the screening, the audience was treated to a showing of GFDD’s organizational video to see the wide range of projects and programs it undertakes in the development field.


Then, introducing “The Mountain”, Ms. Despotovic stated that, “This piece unites the story of the Mountaineers with that of the young boys, who learn the importance of personal strength, teamwork, comradeship and discipline, in overcoming obstacles and achieving present and future goals.”
Directed by Tabaré Blanchard and Ivan Herrera —  both special guests at the event– “The Mountain” depicts an extraordinary story of human determination and achievement. In May 2011, a Caribbean expedition comprising Dominican climbers Karim Mella, Federico Jovine and  Ivan Gomez, managed to make history by hoisting the nation’s flag at the summit of the world’s highest mountain: Mount Everest. The impressive feat inspired three young boys, sons of fishermen from the small southern Dominican town of Nizao, to set out to conquer the highest peak of the island and the Caribbean Antilles: Pico Duarte.

Following the documentary which captivated the audience, Ms. Despotovic  welcomed the filmmakers to discuss the film and their accomplishments. Tabaré Blanchard is a musician, photographer and film director, and the founder and owner of La Visual Sonora Film Studio. He worked on his first two feature films in 2013. Iván Herrera has more than 15 years of experience in film and audiovisual production, including the Dominican film  “La Hija Natural”, which was selected to represent the Dominican Republic in the 2011 Oscars. Both gentlemen have developed distinguished national and international careers.

Tabaré talked about the challenges faced producing “The Mountain” because they had to edit all the material and present the film within a framework of under 3 weeks. “I couldn’t sleep for 6 consecutives days, we had to finished the film in order to present it. I still don’t know how we made it!”.

Ironically, for both, Tabaré and Herrera, the most difficult part of the making of the film wasn’t scaling the world’s highest mountain with Karim, Ivan and Federico, the big challenge was to get the proper support to produce and edit over 160 hours of footage and fundraise the money to complete the film.
It was clear to see from the Q&A session that followed, the audience was visibly moved by what they had just seen, and kept on congratulating the directors for this astounding work and for making the Dominican community so proud of their heritage.

Both GFDD and FUNGLODE are particularly familiar with the contents of the film, and the sentiment behind it. Since 2012, through the Foundations’ Dominican Republic Environment Film Festival (DREFF), they have enjoyed a strong partnership with Mountaineer Karim Mella’s Siempre Más Foundation which jointly takes Dominican high school students to Pico Duarte’s summit, the highest altitude in the whole Caribbean.


However, getting chosen to be part of the group is a challenge. Ms. Despotovic said that GFDD encourages the students to write an essay about nature and the natural parks, and based on that essay, they are selected.“They have to work for it…when you get something for free, you don’t appreciate it as much” concluded Ms. Despotovic.

About GFDD’s Dominican Film Showcase

In an effort to endorse the burgeoning film industry of the Dominican Republic, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development created the initiative the Dominican Film Showcase, which seeks to share and celebrate the stories, history and talent of the Dominican Republic with international audiences, through spotlighting a sample of the best films produced in the Dominican Republic by Dominican filmmakers on Dominican topics.

Join the DFS on Friday May 23, for closing night and a musical extravaganza with Felix Limardo’s look at the art of Merengue in “Sol Caribe”.

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