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An evening of 'Santi'

Emily Brown

Monday, 7 November 2022

A review of the concept film 'Santi' and an insight into the Q&A session with the director and executive producer. A look into why everyone should see this film.

On Tuesday 11 October, University of Nottingham students and associates were privileged to welcome Harry Richards, writer & director of the short film, Santi, and David Sierra-Márquez, executive producer, to the university for a Q&A and screening of the short film. The feature-length version of Santi is to be filmed between the UK and Colombia in 2023.

Santi is a British-Colombian film that tells the story of Santi, Jon Gutierrez, a young Colombian trying to find his feet in a country that is not his own, battling with a new language and culture. The opening scene places our protagonist at a dinner party in London accompanied by his girlfriend, amongst others.

Halfway through the scene, Santi receives a phone call, followed by a voice note, from his mother back in Colombia. Not only does the film highlight the difficulties of assimilating to a new way of living, but also the strength of the connections that migrants have with those they left behind. The transformation from complete discomfort at the dinner party, to the joy and unconditional love felt for his family, is cleverly depicted with sound – the noise of a party that he doesn’t understand in the background of a conversation with his mother and family back in Colombia. Santi speaks to all those who have left their home countries in search of something more, as it doesn’t shy away from difficult topics of language barriers, micro aggressions or immigration.

“Santi speaks to all those who have left their home countries in search of something more…”

The Q&A was a valuable 45 minutes that gave the listeners a chance to put both the film and the work of Harry and David under the microscope, allowing a peek into the process of filmmaking, funding and the magic that goes on behind the scenes.

One of the key messages that Harry conveyed throughout the session was the importance of being passionate about the project and finding a motivated team who all wanted to see their ideas come to life. Despite the difficulties encountered in finding filming locations and deals falling through, their vision was executed with skill, care and sensitivity towards the subject matter.

What I, along with many of my classmates were previously unaware of, was the intense process of storyboarding that took place every time a new filming location was found. Harry explained how the team learned from previous mistakes, and how they carried these lessons onto the next phase of the filmmaking process. Setbacks, in many senses, added more fuel to their fire to achieve the project.  He explained how he integrated both his own experience from his time in Colombia during his year abroad and the expertise of his Colombian colleagues, alongside whom he was able to realise the vision for the film.

Santi provides an insightful critique of our own culture that should be shown to audiences everywhere. It is a charming and authentic inspiration for all that challenges preconceptions about those who have taken the leap to live in a foreign country. The importance that it places on authenticity throughout means that, within ten minutes, it captures the mixture of emotions felt when moving to a new country. It provides a warm embrace around the Latin American community who have made a life for themselves in a country that isn’t their own. The film possesses a certain power in making people feel that they are seen and that their stories are being heard, with Santi as the figurehead of the community. It’s both challenging and heart-warming, as it emphasises the power that familial love has as a source of comfort.

The highly anticipated full-length film will begin production soon across the UK and Colombia.


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Images provided by and published with permission from Santi.

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