CT Filmmaker Moves from Repressing to Embracing His Latino Culture


By Alexandra Lucia-Miller
Eminent Argentine filmmaker A.D. Calvo moved to Stamford after spending his early years in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro. While he had the opportunity to learn Portuguese and Spanish, he wasn’t always so proud of his roots.
He recalls being the only one of his three siblings who suppressed his Latino roots. Calvo didn’t want his friends to hear his mother’s accent. In his own words, he “buried a lot” of his heritage. “I was trying to blend,” he said.
While Calvo may have repressed his Latin roots, these days he’s tremendously proud to call himself Latino, and desires to incorporate his love of Latino cinema into his film making.
Becoming a filmmaker was an epiphany that came with turning 40 and addressing the death of his father who passed away at the same age, a very reflective realization of coming to terms with his age, and how to make a lasting and beautifully artistic contribution to the world, should his own health start to fail him
Calvo’s decorated film credits include the 2008 thriller The Other Side of the Tracks, a chilling tale about a young man who is haunted by visions of his girlfriend who was killed in a horrific train accident 10 years prior.
He has kept busy with two alarming films House of Dust, which follows college students as they inhale the ashes of deceased insane asylum patients, and the upcoming 2013 thriller The Midnight Game which follows a group of high school students trapped in a house after a dare goes horribly wrong.
He attests, “I’ve made four films but none of them have featured any Latino characters. If I’m blessed enough to make a movie, I do want to make a Latino film. I love Argentine film. I hope to be able to go back there to film. We have a big advantage over Latin filmmakers; I’d love to adapt a short story to a film. Latin film has a certain element of magical realism, I’ve gravitated towards that.”
Navigating the desire to produce a film, maintaining elements of mysticism, and having it appeal to a larger audience hasn’t always been easy for Calvo. “Mystical, for the American film industry, kind of means falling in between supernatural and drama. And they want to put it in a box – either comedy or drama, not an in-between.”
Calvo worries that his horror films will take a direction that is more immediately violent, and less psychologically thrilling, “I’m being pushed to go more hard and hardcore, even though I don’t like a lot of violence.” But that doesn’t dissuade Calvo from continuing to write and make horror films.
For any aspiring filmmaker or writer, Calvo’s best advice is to focus on the “content of the film. Spend more time on the script.” When he started making films, he put out endless calls for screenplays. “I started to lose perspective on what’s good. I think in the arts, for me, it’s about having your barometer finely tuned and be able to identify if that’s going to work.”
While reflecting on recent film trends, Calvo observes the “overabundance of the writer/director and kickstarter campaigns, and everybody thinks they can do it DSLR (digital reflex single lens camera) ,” he has a leg up on the competition. His passion to take on a more mystical Argentine perspective and subject matter is what American film needs. With directors like Spain’s Pedro Almodovar’s Volver and La Piel que Habito, and Mexico’s Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros, and the popularity of Salma Hayek’s recent film Savages, the stage is being set for a stronger Latino perspective.
In describing his rationale for pursuing film, Calvo said, “I got into the business to make content.” He certainly has the capacity, experience, and talent to keep the purity and excitement of filmmaking, and more specifically horror films, alive while introducing audiences to new elements of mystic Argentine cinema and the psychological perspective … all gifts of a truly unique Latin ancestry.
The trailer from The Other Side of the Tracks via YouTube