Despite having passed away far too young in 1995, promising writer-director Joseph B. Vasquez is getting another film before cameras. The late filmmaker’s screenplay, “The House That Jack Built,” has just begun production in New York under the direction of Henry Barrial, whose “Some Body” played in the Sundance competition in 2001.
In 1991, Vasquez’s debut film “Hangin’ With the Homeboys” played at the Sundance Film Festival in competition with Richard Linklater’s “Slacker,” Hal Hartley’s “Trust” and Todd Haynes’ grand jury prize-winning “Poison.” Vasquez shared the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award with Hartley and was considered a talent to watch until mental illness derailed his career and AIDS took his life. He only made one more film, the 1995 romance “Manhattan Merengue.”
“The House That Jack Built” stars E.J. Bonilla (“Guiding Light”) as a pot dealer who buys a building in the Bronx and moves his extended family into it to try and recreate the happiness of his youth. But the domestic crises of his parents, siblings and cousins, as well as the arrival of some of his old business associates, threaten to destroy his dream. Rosal Colon, Melissa Fumero, John Herrera, Leo Minaya, Flor de Liz Perez and Saundra Santiago also star.
“Flash of Genius” producer Michael Lieber, who knew Vasquez well and has long nurtured the “Jack” script, is producing the project along with Sam Kitt and Hitesh Patel.The “Jack” storyline has echoes in Vasquez’s own life, which involved being reunited in his last days with the heroin-addicted mother who had abandoned him as an infant.