Winner of multiple awards, including the Queer Lion from the 75th Annual Venice Film Festival, José is a gripping, layered and beautifully honest story about one working-class young man’s struggle to find himself. Made in the neorealist filmmaking tradition, the film is a nuanced and vivid look at being gay in Central America.
José (magnetic newcomer Enrique Salanic) lives with his mother (Ana Cecilia Mota) in Guatemala City, where they survive on her selling sandwiches at bus stops and with him working at a local restaurant. It is a poor and sometimes dangerous country where, dominated by conservative Catholic and Evangelical Christian religion, living one’s life as an openly gay man is hard for José to imagine. His mother has never had a husband, and as her youngest and favorite child, though at the edge of manhood at 19-years old, she is determined to hold on to him. Reserved and private, José fills his free moments playing with his phone and random sex with other men arranged on street corners and dating apps. When he meets attractive and gentle Luis (Manolo Herrera), a migrant from the rural Caribbean coast, they pursue an unexpected relationship with more emotion than José has ever felt. He is thrust into new passion and pain, and self-reflection that pushes him to rethink his life even as he is reluctant to take a leap of faith. José is in Spanish with English subtitles.
It was a pleasure to sit down with the star of José, Enrique Salanic, for this exclusive Hotspos Interview:
At what age did you begin performing and how did it happen?
I formerly began when I was 15 years old when I won a prestigious scholarship to study at Pearson College in Canada. When I was there I was doing an international bachelor’s degree. One of my subjects was theater which was something I wanted to do as a child, but it was only a dream. At Pearson I got the itch again and it blossomed.
What was your first professional role that paid you any amount of money?
It was in a Central American movie called Days of Light.
How did you get cast in Jose?
The photographer of Days of Light, Alvaro Rodriguez, recommended me and Li Cheng contacted me. I did the interview and got cast.
How was it to work with Director Li Cheng?
It was very intense because his team has so much energy and enthusiasm. The crew was so talented, it was inspiring.
Was there a lot of pressure for you as this is your first lead role?
Not really, because surprisingly to for me it flowed amazingly well. However, there was a little pressure in the outside scenes, because we had to shoot those scenes in one take or else it would cause a lot of attention.
You live in Guatemala, is the country portrayed accurately in Jose?
Oh, definitely yes!
Other than this role, what has been your favorite to play?
I really enjoyed playing the character of Lakunle in “The Lion and the Jewel,” in a production at Pearson’s. It was a comedy/drama, and I loved it because that was the time when I had an epiphany that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What is your fantasy role?
I have no specific character in mind, but I would really love to play a character that is a motivator.
Why should our readers go see Jose?
They should go see Jose, because the movie portrays very human/relatable situations no matter who you are or where you are from. We have all felt loss, love, and happiness, and you can get a lot of hope and strength from the message of this movie.
For more information on Enrique, you can follow him on Facebook.com/Enrique Salanic or Instagram.com/Enrique.Salanic
SOUTH FLORIDA THEATERS OPENING FEBRUARY 14
MIAMI: MDC’s Tower Theatre Miami
BROWARD: The Classic Gateway
PALM BEACH COUNTY: Living Room Theaters/Boca Raton, Lake Worth Playhouse