Making his feature film directorial debut with “Sultán” is Panamanian director Enrique Castro Ríos, which began filming last summer, and is currently in post-production, as it continues to attract financing and other forms of support from powerful partners like Panama’s Medcom media corporation (owner of 3 major Panamanian TV broadcast networks, 2 cable channels and 2 radio stations). Medcom will provide financial backing to help complete the project, as well as to market the film after its completion.
The feature, a co-production between Sultan el Film (Panama) and Milagros Producciones (Colombia), is the first to receive support from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Fondo Cine Cinema Fund – a total of $700,000, which is hefty, considering that the film’s total budget is around $1.1 million. The film also counts on the support of the Ibermedis Fund and of the Film Development Fund of Colombia (FDC).
“Sultán” takes place in 1999 and tells the story of a boy, his mother and grandmother, survivors of the U.S. military invasion of 1989. During a period of 24 hours, the women manage to heal their mutual rejection and wounds, and the child gets to meet his father whom he lost ten years before.
The film features the work of actors Nina Vincent from Panama, and Jerónimo Henao of Colombia, as well as the acting debut of Panamanian actors Delicia Montañez and Alex Jiménez.
Written and directed by Enrique Castro Ríos and produced by María Neyla Santamaría, “Sultán” is the first feature film produced with the support of the Panama Film Commission and represents a new Panamanian independent film industry.
Previously, Enrique Castro Ríos directed the short film “Wata”, awarded best Central American short film at the Icarus Film Festival of Guatemala in 2010.
The co-production was filmed by cinematographer Diego Jiménez (Colombia), and executive produced by Miriam Pons (Panama).
On tackling matters of race and segregation in Panama in “Sultán,” director Rios had this to say about the film, via Variety: “The desire to “improve the race” by marrying whiter. The film’s core family features a grandmother of indigenous descent that has married whiter and had a son. But he then marries a girl of West Indian descent, which the mother sees as a “backward” step. When the son is killed during the U.S. invasion, racial and other tensions drive the grandmother, daughter-in-law and her young son apart, that is until a ghost from the past comes to try and reunite them.”
The film is scheduled for a late 2015 premiere.
Check out a few stills above and below.