Rocco Tiigueros is tired of people on the street asking him for drugs. He’s experienced the social fallout of one too many movies, newscasts and TV shows which cast the Latin American community in an unsavory light. So he’s decided to shed his own light on the community, in the form of a video documentary called Walking with Masks.
“In one scene, I asked a child to dance through the street wearing a mask with needles stuck in it,” says Trigueros. “That’s how I feel when people on the street ask me for drugs.”
Twenty-eight-year old Tligueros began his video exploration and interpretation of the world in Mexico in 1991. In
Ciudad Juarez, the ·gigantic city just across the border from El Paso, Texas, he was part of a Mexican television production team. He also worked on a documentary about the murders of several women who worked at the foreign owned factories, so common in the vicinity of Juarez.
When he came to Canada, he found that his community lacked the high positive profiles of other immigrant communities. He began to work on changing this, becoming involved with The Society for the Development of Latin American Arts, of which he is Special Projects Advisor. He’s been instrumental in a Latin American theatre program and last year began work on Walking with Masks.
The documentary begins with images of Mexico and the difficulties Trigueros left behind when he came to Canada two years ago.
“This journey is autobiographical,” says Trigueros. “It starts with the problems that can make people refugees. It can help you understand the social situation of the Latin American community here.”
The second section of the documentary will look at Canada through an immigrants eyes, he says. For instance, he’s filming all of the famous streets in Canada and taking close looks at buildings in Vancouver that most Canadian-born residents hurry by.
“Tins is important, because these [buildings] are the roots of people living here.” he says. “I see it through the eyes of a culture that preserves its history.” Alternating these images with Latin American festivals, good food and the arts of his community, Tiigueros projects positive images and at the same time, shares his own perceptions of the Canadian society around him.
He says he hopes to provide a more balanced portrait of the Latin American community. Right now, he says he thinks the community is being represented by media coverage like that of the Hondurans arrested for selling drugs- a splinter that’s been expanded into a mask across the community. “I want to show how we live, survive and deal with every day situations,” he says. “I think many people will empathize-our stories are their stories.”
The third part of the documentary will represent the future challenges of maintaining and integrating the Latin Community. Trigueros says he believes that it’s easy to make assumptions about people you don’t know. This video is a sort of electronic self-introduction to break the stereotypes that have grown.
“We don’t want to be the strangers or outsiders,” he says. “We want to be part of the ‘we’.” With a stack of 30 two-hour tapes and a good third of the documentary left to shoot, Tiigueros will be hard at work over the next few months, editing and polishing his work. The finished video will open at a Latin American cultural festival in November.