Saturday Fuego Diablo
In 1981 Montreal, four Salvadoran siblings, new to Canada, seek distance from the uprisings occurring in their home country by hitting a night club, but it does not go as planned. This film highlights a very human desire to look for lightness during dark, uncertain times.
Mission StatementHailing from two disparate immigrant backgrounds (Pakistan + El Salvador) my work explores diasporic identity, (dis)connection to the “motherland”, our desire to be loved and Western popular culture. I'm passionate about BIPOC futures & joy and the complex stories these may permeate.
About The Project
Saturday Fuego Diablo is a short film proof-of-concept of a feature film I have written. The short adapts a pivotal moment in the feature when the siblings -- Julia (33), Anabel (29), Cecilia (26) and Román (23) -- hit their first Montreal nightclub. However, in the short, they never make it inside the club. Due to a dress code faux-pas, they are denied access.
Refusing to end the night at that, the siblings look for another way in around back, only to bump into another group of friends, immigrants like them, who had the same idea. When getting into the club proves to be futile, both groups form their own dance party, but these good times do not last long...
“Sometimes / I think I was given all these words / Because my family / Could never find them.” - Miriam Mosqueda
The title Saturday Fuego Diablo is a nod to the 1977 John Travolta-helmed film, Saturday Night Fever. “Fuego Diablo” means “fire devil”, an inside joke, but also the expression paints clubbing as a forbidden activity, a contradiction to the Salvadoran characters’ conservative Catholic background.
The film is loosely based on the stories my mother, aunts and uncle have told me of when they first immigrated to Montreal from El Salvador, in the late 1970s and early 80s, at the onset of the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992).
Photograph by Mike Goldwater: 'CUSCATANCINGO, SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR, MARCH 1982'
This period also coincided with the loss of the first Referendum in the province of Quebec.
"Revisiting Quebec’s 1980 referendum" - Montreal Gazette, May 20, 2020
This was a politically loaded climate for newcomers to arrive. Not only was Montreal ill-equipped to manage the expectations of its current citizens subsequent to this loss, it created an unwelcoming atmosphere for newcomers, who were faced with a culture that essentially did not want them. A feeling that echoes as we look to Quebec’s most recent election of the CAQ to power.
Through the media, we are receiving a specific view of migrant and exile stories, of what their lives and survival look like. It is either of them facing hardships or uplifting tales of them rising above adversity and succeeding. In between these two extremes is a gamut of stories of immigrants just trying to live: making mistakes, looking for lightness, being human, looking to feel human again.
This film continues a tradition of how children of immigrants often serve as interpreters for their parents. I see Saturday Fuego Diablo as a way to honour my family’s stories; carve out space for them on the dance floors of 1980s Montreal. Although they long felt invisible, this is my way of showing how they stood out.
=Anita - writer/director of 'Saturday Fuego Diablo'
Saturday Fuego Diablo follows our protagonists navigating their first brush with winter in Canada by escaping into the nightlife. They look to the lights for comfort as their memories from back home follow them.
In The Mood For Love (2000) by Wong Kar-Wai
The tonal influences that match this story are dramatic romances of the 1970s & 80s, most notably Saturday Night Fever (1977), but also Moonstruck (1987), Desert Hearts (1985) and In The Mood For Love (2000).
During the makeshift club scene in Saturday Fuego Diablo, I would like to bring out the magicality of that moment, filming it to mimic the big energy inside of a disco.
Saturday Night Fever (1977) by John Badham
The cinematography will aim to be both intimate and distant: framing the closeness of the siblings...
Desert Hearts (1985) by Donna Deitch
...while highlighting the tension of feeling like you do not quite belong in a place.
Saturday Night Fever (1977) by John Badham
Lastly, memory manifests itself in the form of video projections. Over three scenes, we see archival footage projected onto buildings and the landscape — at times overlaying on the siblings, draping them with the memories that follow them like a ghost.
This journey will not end with this short film. El Salvador is but one of many countries in Central America whose migration stories are underrepresented in cinema. Contributing to this film is one way of changing that narrative and allowing us to tell our own stories.
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CONTRIBUTE AND PLEDGE
You can make a contribution to our film by making a pledge. We have to collect 80% of our crowdfunding goal to keep our funds. You can choose an incentive or make a pledge to a specific wishlist item. You can choose any pledge and incentive amount that fits your budget. No pledge is too small. Every dollar makes a difference in making our film possible!
LOANS & DONATIONS
Can't make a monetary pledge but have services or items you can donate or loan? Check out our wishlist! We can offer credit and/or advertising. Feel free to make a loan request in our "Wishlist" tab or email us at [email protected]
Here are some items we are seeking:
- Toronto Location: Nightclub exterior (brick building on a low traffic street)
- Late 1970s car
- Craft services (snacks, coffee, bottled water)
- PPE (disposable masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc.)
- Camera & Lighting equipment (rental discounts & donations, welcome!)
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
ANITA ABBASI - WRITER / DIRECTOR / CO-PRODUCER
Anita Abbasi is a writer-director based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). Hailing from two disparate immigrant backgrounds — Pakistan & El Salvador — Anita’s work explores diasporic identity, (dis)connection to the “motherland”, our desire to be loved and Western popular culture. Cinema, music and laughter have always been places of belonging for her. As such, her stories, though mainly drama, often cross genres into comedy and dance musicals.
She holds a BA in Creative Writing and Art History, and studied film directing under Deepa Mehta. She has produced and directed three short films with co-director, Martin Baena: The Talent Scout (2015), French Poutine (2016) and Mariah ¡qué baile! (2017). Her latest short film, Sinvergüenzilla in ‘First Kiss’ (2021), a sci-fi queer romance, premiered at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in May 2021.
She is an alum of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Emerging 20 (2018), Gimli Film Festival’s The Future Is Female* (2019), Women In The Director’s Chair Career Advancement Module (2020) and an artist in residence at Aluna Theatre (2020-2021). In 2020-2021, she was mentored by actor, author and playwright, Carmen Aguirre, for rewrites on her first feature film, Saturday Fuego Diablo. Saturday Fuego Diablo is in development and was written with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.
MURPHY DIGGON - CO-PRODUCER
Murphy works as a producer and production manager for film and theatre. She spends her time as the Assistant Production Manager for the Canadian Opera Company, as the Venue Manager for Space Space Revolution and playing with puppets with her children's theatre company Felt Heart Collective: feltheart.ca.
Select film credits include: Demonstration Sport (Co-producer / 1st AD - Sleepy Mom Productions), Compliant (Co-Producer / 1st AD - Rose Productions: Winner Best Canadian Film, Best Actress, Best Editing for Canadian Cinematography Awards), Weeping Willow (Co-Producer / 1st AD - Weeping Willow Productions: Winner of Best Micro Cinema Short - CineFAM 3rd Annual Film Festival, Official Selection of Lift Off Sessions - Pinewood Studios UK), Dream Date (Line Producer - Ex Girlfriend Productions), Flood (2nd AD - CFC), End Of The Rope (2nd AD - Kybele Films: Best Sci-Fi Short - Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, Remi Winner, York University Graduate Awards, Official Selection of BIFFF).
ANGEL NAVARRO III - DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Angel Navarro III is a Filipino – Canadian Director of Photography. He spent his childhood andearly teenage years in Manila, Philippines, and moved to Ontario, Canada in mid-2008. Growing up in two different cultures, Angel was able to experience a sui generis perspective in life and inthe world of filmmaking.
Angel's style of work has been described as versatile and evolving. He loves cinematic naturallooking visuals and embraces the juxtaposition between light and darkness.
He has worked with numerous brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Acura, Domino's Pizza,Walmart, McDonald's, and so much more. Angel's work has screened in multiple film festivals such as ReelWorld, Asians on Film, Blood In The Snow, NBC Universal Short Film Festival, LA Shorts Fests, Inside Out, and many more.
Currently, Angel continues to push the boundaries of his craft, while welcoming new collaborations.
Because authenticity of experience and giving voice to Salvadorans inside and outside of El Salvador are of the utmost importance to this story, we are happy to be working with the following Salvadoran artists in the roles of our main cast:
MARÍA JOSÉ MALDONADO as "JULIA"
Maria José is a queer nonbinary Salvadoran-Ecuadorian writer + creative born and raised in Queens, NY. Their work focuses on queerness, Salvadoran identity, rage and feminism. They write speculative fiction, poetry, zines and whatever they want!
They are a current 2020-2021 Leslie-Lohman Museum Artist Fellow, 2019-2020 Queer|Art|Mentorship Literature Fellow under the mentorship of Charles Rice-González, a 2020-2021 Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Awardee for feminist fiction, graduate of “Creative Writing from Queer Resistance” workshop led by Nancy Agabian and sponsored by the Leslie-Lohman Museum and Poets & Writers. Their writing has appeared in Autostraddle and they are a proud alum of Howard University, Phillips Exeter Academy, Prep for Prep and a graduate from Dartmouth College.
JESSICA ZEPEDA as "ANABEL"
Jessica Zepeda is a performance artist based in Tkaronto with a diaspora from Kuskatan, known as Central America’s post-colonial El Salvador. Jessica is a Humber Theatre Alumni and has toured with Roseneath Theatre’s Dora nominated production of La Maleta. They are also a co-creator, performer and producer of The Empty Orchestra Dreamland which opened The Rhubarb Festival, both in 2018 and 2019. Jessica has made an appearance as their alter-ego “Sinvergüenzilla” in Volume 9 of 10X10 100 Portraits Celebrating Queers In The Arts by 10 Queer Photographers. In 2021, Jessica produced and starred in their short film Sinvergüenzilla in First Kiss which had its world premier at The 31st Annual Inside Out LGBTQ Film Festival.
IRMA VILLAFUERTE as "CECILIA"
Irma Villafuerte is a Central American dance artist, emerging choreographer and educator based in Tkaronto (the place in the water where the tress are standing) located in Turtle Island. She is a first-generation of refugees from Nahuat Pipil Territory Kuskatan (place of Jewel necklaces), post-colonial El Salvador.
Irma has been immersed into her choreographic practice and development; through mentorships and dance residencies for emerging choreographers with Dance Makers through their Peer Learning Network Program, Toronto Dance Theatre’s Emerging Voices Program, George Brown Dance, and as of late with Aluna Theatre. Her artistic mission is embodying cultural, social-political and migrant narratives of oppressed communities. As a daughter of refugee, her passion for social justice, human rights, and political art making, is the driving force for creation in Irma’s choreographic and performance work.
CÉSAR-ADOLFO LARA-MENENDEZ as "ROMÁN"
César-Adolfo is a Salvadoran-Guatemalan violinist. Classically trained since the age of 5, he further pursued his music studies at Vanier College (2006-2009) and Concordia University (Integrative Music Studies 2011-2016).
Continuing with our goal to bring forth authentic voices, the following supporting roles have been cast. We are so happy to have them part of this film!
STEVE KASAN as "OUDAY"
KIM NELSON as "LUCILLE"
DELTIN SEJOUR as "OSCAR"
JOHN ECHANO as "VINCENT"