After an accident in the world of illegal street fighting and gambling, Sandro is sentenced for 10 years in prison. He has to leave his one and only son Shendel behind. When Sandro is a free man again, all he wants is to recover the relationship with his son who is about to turn 20. What Sandro doesn’t know is that Shendel’s obsession with easy money has led him to follow his fathers footsteps into the world of underground fights, and that he doesn’t want anything to do with his father. In order to protect his son and win back his trust, Sandro will have to confront his toughest test yet.
This film project was started by director/producer German Gruber jr. four years ago. Intended as a project to raise funding for an upcoming next one, the film developed in being the first Curacao feature film, widely appreciated by the local public and critics.
Born 1980 in Caracas, Venezuela, German Gruber jr. grew up on the island of Bonaire, part of the Dutch Antilles. He moved to The Netherlands to get a degree in film making. His graduation short film “The Legend of Buchi Fil” (2008), a period piece about the slave trade, was filmed on Curacao. The short film was well received, both in the Caribbean and the Netherlands. After film school, he returned to the Dutch Antilles, hoping to find more opportunities in film making on the biggest island of the Antilles, Curacao.
It was hard to find fellow filmmakers, investors, producers on an island without a film industry whatsoever. The last film being made by Curacao film makers was fifty years ago, and was intended for international market. Convinced of the existence of a big audience for a true Curacao film, intended for the Antillean public, German decided to write a feature-length film, produced by himself on a minimal budget. He wanted to make a feature film “no matter what.”
With the devoted help of his wife Alejandra Sanchez he found funding of the film through local sponsorships and soon raised a budget big enough to get his plans done. The film was intended to be filmed with a Canon DSLR, and to be showed in a local theater on Curacao. This way he could show to power of a local film to potential investors and persuade them to let him realize his next project on a bigger budget.
The news of a feature film being made on Curacao spread fast. German had no problems in casting actors; they were all jumping to get aboard on this project. Some of them had experience as a tv-host, stand-up comedian or professional theater actor and others were no actor at all.
In the meantime. longtime companion from film school DoP Ewoud Bon was busy gathering a small crew in The Netherlands, hoping to find people to work on this project for free. After explaining the plans for Sensei Redenshon to crew, rental companies and postproduction companies he was offered a professional camera and sound package, as well as a postproduction workflow that the filmmakers could only dream of when they started this project. A crew of Dutch professionals who were ready to make their first steps into feature filmmaking went overseas and work pro-bono on this project. Alejandra Sanchez managed to get a small production crew locally, as well as a small wardrobe and art department. Local companies and government instances were offering their help too. All these small steps were bringing the project to a next level.
Of course, the project enfaced a lot of problems. After a week of production some of the local crew left, not knowing what they got themselves into. And without any money left, the production could only depend on the goodwill of location holders, prop owners, and the persistent efforts of the crew, with some of the members fulfilling more than three tasks. Unfortunately, problems kept coming and the quality of the film was under pressure. After five weeks of shooting, the Dutch crew and equipment had to go back to the Netherlands as the shoot wasn’t even halfway on schedule. German had to admit the project had failed.
However, that did not stop him from trying again. Together with his wife Alejandra, his brother Carlos Gruber and Ewoud he re-wrote the script making it even more bold as it was before. It was all or nothing. Still believing in a Curacaon film, they went through the whole process of funding through sponsorship, again. The willingness of the actors to make this project work was shown when they all appeared again a half year later for the next five weeks of shooting. The Dutch crew and equipment flew overseas again.
The crew and actors managed to finish shooting the script in that five weeks and after an intensive periode of editing and post-production the film was professionally finished in the Netherlands.
What began as a small no-budget film, grew out to be a mature feature film, ready to be screened to a large audience. Without a distribution deal, German offerered the film to the cinema theater franchise on Curacao and Aruba, which was very pleased to finally have a Curacao film projected on their screens. Without a budget for marketing and promotion, the film ran six weeks, three times a day on the islands, and was widely acclaimed after each show for being it a modern, grungy view on Curacaon society, and of course a Curacaon production.