A short film about the social issues facing Puerto Escondido premiered on YouTube last Sunday. Until now Cometa had only been seen at its premiere at the Hotel Villa Sol beach club in November last year. But now that it is easily accessible, the film has been circulating on social media since its release on YouTube.
The film was directed by Argentinean Fran Sortino, who first came to Puerto in 2019 but it wasn’t necessarily with the intention of making a short film. He had been traveling around Latin America in a van with a friend, filming movies along the way under their project Rodar Latinoamerica.
When the pandemic hit, he was in Mexico. At another friend’s recommendation, Sortino headed to Puerto Escondido and upon arriving he understood the magic the town held.
“When I arrived in Puerto, I saw an impressive, beautiful place. And the warmth of the people in this place was beautiful. I came from another country and the landscape spoke to me in such a way that I felt well received, as if I could make it home. I think it’s what happens to a lot of people here . . . I fell in love with Puerto and Mexico.”
However, around the same time that Sortino discovered Puerto, many investors became aware of the rapidly expanding’ town that was drawing international attention. Sortino was concerned when he began to read about large businesses hoping to build along the pristine coast.
A plan to build in Playa Bacocho caught his attention. But more than anything, Sortino saw that a group of activists and a concerned community showed up to fight and put a halt to the huge construction project.
After filming all over Mexico, Sortino has seen first hand exactly what many hope Puerto doesn’t become. He had a strong reaction to the possibility of Puerto transforming into another Cancún or Acapulco. “I felt something very ugly inside, that they already wanted to start building and destroying the paradise that is Puerto . . . I said no, I have to do something, and what I can do is make movies. So I’m going to make a movie, even if it’s a short film to defend the magic and the beauty that Puerto holds, even if it’s to raise awareness to touch hearts.”
Using film as an artistic medium to shine a light on the risk of Puerto losing its essence, Sortino and his team got to work.. Local children made up a large part of the cast. “Most of the people who acted in Cometa dreamed of being film actors, and that was their first experience, so it was very nice . . . .”
The film’s protagonist — who is from Manialtepec — and his friends come together to preserve their access to Playa Colorada, their natural playground. It is with this innocence and love of play that they captivate the hearts of viewers, especially those in the local community that can connect so strongly to the sentiments portrayed. In less than 10 minutes the audience can feel the impact of unity that is displayed.
After months of protests urging sustainable development in Puerto, those at the frontlines of that movement are hoping this feeling of unity and possibility spreads across the community.
At a showing in La Residencia Artística in the Centro on Monday evening, one Puerto local said, “I see myself in the protagonist. You can see it happening in La Punta. And it’s what we don’t want to happen in Colorada.” He’s referring to the restriction and privatization of beach access. The destruction of the few green areas left on this part of the coast is a large concern for many people who call Puerto home.
Sortino’s aim was much more than simply spewing facts on the issue at hand; as with all art, he wanted to reach people more deeply. When asked his hopes for the film, Sortino replied, “That people see these natural places from another place, from a place more in the heart, to understand the life that happens there and that not everything is business . . . if we do not raise awareness now, in a not so distant future, it will be too late.”
Nearly 500 people viewed Cometa at its initial showing at the beach club in Bacocho. The feeling of possibility was palpable in the air on that November evening. However, more than simply inspiring and raising awareness, Sortino also wants the short film to serve another purpose. “For those people who are there putting their body, their soul, their heart into fighting so that Puerto is not destroyed, [Cometa] is also a message for them to say that they are not alone, that through cinema, through art, through music, through any artistic expression, we can support these types of initiatives, which seek to support us all.”
El Sol de Puerto