‘The Boatman’ Shows Plight of Immigrants

Oscar Torre actor 2015
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Oscar Torre in The Boatman. Still frame courtesy of Greg Morgan.

By Julie Pendray

IDYLLWILD, Calif. — Oscar Torre returns to Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema next week, showcasing his latest movie The Boatman, which he says has special meaning.

Torre stars as Miguel or “El Maldito,” a coyote who brings immigrants across the Mexican border into the United States. Though he never loses any of them, he loses himself along the way, according to the trailer.

Torre is known for the movies The Hangover Part IIIPretty Rosebud; Ladron Que Roba A Ladron; and Ladrones.

He said, via email, that he feels “honored” to be part of The Boatman and “in a small way show the ordeal many go through to come to the US.”

Torre was born and raised in Miami, of Cuban heritage.

“My parents came to the US from Cuba, getting away from an oppressive government and looking for a better life,” he said. “In this film the people that I come across are also looking for a better life and in many cases trying to get away from the violence that surrounds them.”

Torre said he loves the character of Miguel.

“He is not intimidated by the narcos, but he is not necessarily a hero either. He is a man of few words and does not show much emotion. He doesn’t care much for anyone (or at least show that he does) but he somehow finds himself doing the right thing. He feels responsible for every single person that he takes across.”

Noemi Dunbar and Yvonne Delarosa also star in The Boatman, which was written by Greg Morgan and Duke Addleman. Morgan also directed the movie, which will screen on opening night.

Greg Morgan film maker

Greg Morgan. Photo courtesy: Greg Morgan.

All the team is based in Los Angeles. It’s unknown how many will come to Idyllwild but Morgan plans to attend the festival.

As with many creative processes, Morgan said the concept for The Boatman began with a “What if?” scenario.

“My wife, Jeanne Flynn-Morgan, came up with the idea, as we were driving home from the Colorado River,” he said via email. “She thought of an angry, old truck driver that strangely came across dying motorists and these people whispered their last words to him.  These words would change him over time.  I took that idea and laid it over the context of the immigration issue and combined that with the metaphor of the River Styx.”

The Boatman was shot on the Colorado River near Needles and in the high desert of Lancaster.

Torre said that when he read the script he immediately wanted to be part of the movie and go on the “journey.”

“The film works at many levels and ends up being much more than the audience expected — can’t say much more than that, without giving anything away. I also liked that the film shows the reality of crossing the border without politicizing it.” 

He described how he prepared to play Miguel.

“The first thing I did was talk to people who had been brought across the border by coyotes. I also found it important to find the right look for a man who has no vanity. He also has no interest in engaging in conversations with people. The look was something key for me. I grew a long beard and had hair covering a lot of my face. I literally hid behind the hair. I also had many conversations with Greg about the story and the meaning of things. There’s a lot of symbolism in the film.”

Torre’s history with the Idyllwild festival goes back to its first year, when he was a lead in the film Legacy, he said. The festival is going into its 7th year.

Oscar Torre actor 2015

Oscar Torre. Photo: JeanPaul San Pedro.

“In other years I had two short films that I starred in, The Visitation and Souled, for which I won best actor at the festival. I also had the features Counterpunch, a film in which I’m one of the leads, and of course Pretty Rosebud, which I directed and my wife, Chuti Tiu, wrote and starred in. Pretty Rosebud went on to win five major awards at the festival, including best film, actress and director.”

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Chuti Tiu. Photo: IMDB.com

One of Tiu’s films, Vertical, is scheduled to be screened in Idyllwild as part of a fundraiser on Jan. 9.

“Chuti is one of the leads,” Torre said. “She’ll probably be attending with me.”

An estimated 100 movies will be shown at the Idyllwild festival. The Boatman will screen on opening night during the 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. time slot Jan 5 at The Rustic Theatre. The festival continues through Jan. 10.

Copyright Julie Pendray & SpecialsNotOnTheMenu.com

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