ROQUE DALTON, LET’S SHOOT THE NIGHT!
Documentary by Tina Leisch | Austria El Salvador Cuba 2013 | 86 min
“Roque Dalton, let’s shoot the night!” is a poetic documentary, a manifesto both for reading poetry and for living an authentic life that takes responsibility for the state of the world and accepts the dangers of making mistakes in the process or even failing completely. Roque Dalton (1935-1975) is the most important poet of El Salvador. His life is an adventure story, his poetry an exciting shower of sparks in the realm between political utopia and sensuality, between revolutionary beliefs and lust for heresy. Sentenced to death by the Salvadorian dictatorships for subversive activities, he managed to escape execution twice. The first time, the dictator José María Lemus was overthrown and Roque was granted amnesty. The second time, an earthquake destroyed the prison walls and he was able to dig himself to freedom.
He was the illegitimate son of a Salvadorian nurse and a North American millionaire, a descendant of the legendary Dalton brothers of the American west.
He lived in Mexico and Prague and wrote most of his works while exiled in Cuba. He helped establish his country’s first guerrilla organisation, the ERP, and he was murdered by a military faction of his own organisation under circumstances which still remain unclear. To this day, his sons protest the appointment of a man suspected of involvement in the murder of their father in the first left-wing government in El Salvador, thus contributing to the discussion about impunity of war crimes.
Roque Dalton was a pioneer in the writing of history and cultural research in his country. He studied pre-Colombian myths and legends and made emphatic use of Guanacisms,
unique Salvadorian expressions and Spanish dialects. He was the first Central American writer to use the slang of the street and the tavern, the brothel and the prison. He fired salvoes of anti-capitalist critiques at the increasing globalization of pop culture, and he chopped down concepts of liberation with the finely-sharpened machete of his wit. His “Poema de Amor” has become El Salvador’s unofficial national anthem.
As playful as Roque Dalton’s poetry, our film connects interviews with his family, his friends and comrades, his lovers and contemporaries with touching readings of his works by students and actors, hookers and prisoners, his famous friends and the offspring of the underprivileged protagonists of his works.
Tina Leisch biography:
Tina Leisch is a Viennese film and theatre director and author, well known for her experimental theatre projects. She developed the play « Irrgelichter im Spiegelgrund » with patients of the notorious Steinhof psychiatric hospital in Vienna. She wrote and staged the play “Elf Seelen für einen Ochsen – enajs dus za enega vola”, dealing with the anti-Nazi struggle of Carinthian partisans in World War II. She won the Nestroy Prize, Austria’s most important theatre award, for her staging of George Tabori’s « Mein Kampf ». Since 2004 she has been developing plays with inmates of prisons. « Gangster Girls », her first feature length documentary, won a Special Mention in the 2008 Viennale. And « Dagegen muss ich etwas tun » portrays the resistance fighter Hilde Zimmermann.
Directed by Tina Leisch
Written by Tina Leisch & Erich Hackl
Cinematography Gerald Kerkletz
Editing Karina Ressler
Producer Ursula Wolschlager
Sound: Klaus Kellermann, Evelio Gay Salinas, Marcos Menjivar
Graphics & Animation: Nick Prokesch
Production companies Witcraft Szenario, KINOKI