Cary Fukunaga: A Q&A about Sin Nombre

After the Saturday screening of Sin Nombre the audience was given the opportunity to “meet and greet” the director and ask him questions. I was amazed at how many people stayed behind — well, really not that amazed seeing as the movie did get a standing ovation.

The floor was open for the audience to ask freely. Cary Fukunaga came in and he was very much in good spirits, mellow and “cool”. He started cracking some jokes and then the first question came. A man wondered if the feeling interpreted in the movie was an authentic one.

Cary talked about how he had done his homework before the shooting of the film. A long process of interviewing immigrants, visiting train yards and shelters. He took trips to understand and see for himself the reality of people trying to get to the border. When it came to the gang members, he visited a prison in Chiapas. There he got help from high level officials, and a list was given to him with the names of gang members that could be ready to share their experiences.

Cary explained how he had been in contact with three guys, but one was killed. He humorously added how they had been great copy editors to his script, helping him correct the Spanish so that it sounded more authentic and “street-like”.

A lady then asked about the background or inspiration for the film, to which Fukunaga mentioned his short film created during his second year of school called Victoria para Chino, based on a tragic true story that he had read in the New York Times. For that short, he had done the needed “academic background check”. It was when he started to do more research about the phenomenon of people trying hard to get to the border that the idea for Sin Nombre was born.

Furthermore, when talking more about the production of the film, he joked a lot about seeing as this movie contains “no stars, is in Spanish and it’s by a no-name director” the budget was very modest and “there were no director chairs on the scene, it was done in a very lean and mean fashion.”

The casting for the movie had been done in both Mexico and Honduras. He had gone out of his way to find a Honduran girl to cast as Sayra via television, radio and newspapers. He instead found Casper, and seeing as he is a newcomer he wanted to pair him up with an actress that was more “grafted in her craft” so that he could concentrate more on Casper. Seeing as the movie was shot in six weeks, he felt like he would not be able to guide along two actors, so he hoped that the girl that played Sayra could manage with minimum direction.

He managed to find his Sayra in Mexico – ironic, considering Sayra is supposed to be Honduran and Casper is a Mexican. The name Sin Nombre came from an article he read about how people put up unmarked crosses along the road for those immigrants that try to take themselves to the border; as a sign of respect to those that have died trying to get there.

There are no plans for him to keep working with this issue, but he commented that during the production of the film, he was greatly affected and that he gained experiences that “surely will always be with him.

Fukunaga is currently working on a re-adaptation of Jane Eyre. The casting is done and they are just about to start shooting the film in England with Mia Wasikowska (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (Fish Tank).


Music is all I do: I work in music, I write about music, I listen to music.

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