A Conversation With Arturo Menéndez

Arturo Menéndez

Filmmaker Arturo Menéndez is feeling the buzz around his latest film, “La Palabra de Pablo,” which is unusual, because he is from El Salvador.

There, the film industry is virtually non-existent, he explained, but his newest sexy thriller — screening on Saturday, November 10, at Guild Hall in East Hampton, as part of the 15thannual Latino Film Festival — has made international waves, lauded as a contender for the country’s Best Foreign Language Film entry, which would be its first ever.

Before the screening, Menéndez caught up with the Sag Harbor Express and dished on the inspiration behind the film and the attention it’s getting, and what that may mean for the future of El Salvador.

The Sag Harbor Express: What inspired the story behind “La Palabra de Pablo”?

Arturo Menéndez: It’s inspired by the character Yago from Shakespeare’s “Othello.” I grabbed the character and “tropicalized” it to fit in Latin America.

What was most challenging about making this film?

Menéndez: As I always say, getting all together. I spent 14 years until I was able to see the light with this film. I had so much patience. But in the meanwhile, I did many things like short films and my first feature.

What do you think about “La Palabra de Pablo” being considered for Best Foreign Language Film?

Menéndez: I think it’s great, but we made a huge mistake. It aired on HBO on September. So this disqualifies us automatically.

Why do you think it has taken so long for there to be an entry from El Salvador?

Menéndez: It’s because we don’t have a solid film industry. We are taking the first steps. Trial and error. It will be like this for the next decade I think, until more and more people make films that will be worth to have an entry in the academy.

Where do you think the future of filmmaking in El Salvador is headed?

Menéndez: Hopefully on strong Salvadoran stories that can fly away to the world. Films that will transport people to El Salvador and not only its violence or bad reputation. We need to show our people and our way of thinking.

“La Palabra de Pablo” will screen on Saturday, November 10, at 7 p.m. at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton, as part of the 15thannual Latino Film Festival, hosted by OLA of Eastern Long Island. A Q&A with actor Carlos Aylagas and director Arturo Menéndez will follow. Tickets are $10 and $20 for preferred seating.  

For more information, call 631-899-3441 or visit olalatinofilmfest2018.eventbrite.com.