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The incredible, untold story of the "afterlife" of one American school bus and the journey it takes to stay alive.
The journey and transformation of a decommissioned American school bus into aGuatemalan camioneta becomes a poetic meditation on movement and exchange between the Americas.
The journey and transformation of a decommissioned American school bus into aGuatemalan camioneta becomes a poetic meditation on movement and exchange between the Americas.
283 backers pledged $26,510 to help bring this project to life.

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LA CAMIONETA: The Journey of One American School Bus

$26,510

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                    (Photo above taken by Diego Colombi)

Note about Kickstarter funding:  If we do not reach our funding goal by April 18th, we do not receive any funds and your credit card will not be charged.  Please click the green button to the right so that your pledge will be counted and we can continue telling this important story!

  *DOMESTIC + INT'L SHIPPING IS INCLUDED FOR REWARDS* 

THE IDEA

I first traveled to Guatemala in January of 2009.  Having read and written a lot about Guatemala during my time as a graduate student, I wanted to get to know the place for myself.

My trip to Guatemala was part of a larger, six-week bus trip from Costa Rica to Texas, and during my time there I got from one place to another by riding the camionetas – decommissioned school buses from the United States that had migrated south and been transformed into brightly-colored vehicles for public transportation.

As soon as I saw them, I was curious to learn more.  Were these actually old school buses?  How did they get here?  And who were the people that put so much care and effort into restoring and decorating them?

I struck up a conversation with one of the drivers, who told me that the camioneta we were riding on originally came from a school district in Tennessee, just 20 miles from where I was living at the time.  He and his nephew had bought the bus themselves and had recently driven it down to Guatemala.

I was struck by how close his story felt to home.  At the outset I had no intention of making a film, but over the course of the next year I found myself thinking back to that experience and becoming more and more curious to learn more.

A year later I felt the need to make a film, and thought that following the journey of one bus throughout its entire process of migration and transformation would be an interesting vehicle into exploring the stories of the people who make it all possible.

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

Guatemala is a country whose violent history still has a firm grasp on its present.  Having recently emerged from a 36-year civil war in which the state has been officially condemned for their undeniable responsibility in acts of genocide, Guatemala is struggling to grow as a democracy amidst institutional weaknesses and a wide-ranging climate of impunity.  According to a 2010 UN report, networks of criminal activity rule 40% of the country's government entities.

Over the past few years, the camionetas and the men who drive them have become primary targets of an escalating wave of violence, gang extortion and killings that have plagued the country's transportation system and instilled fear and mistrust in those who ride the buses each day.  Because camioneta drivers carry cash, gangs extort daily protection money and often kill those who cannot pay or who outright refuse to pay.  In 2006, one-hundred twenty-six of the country's 4,000 bus drivers were shot and killed on the job.  The annual number of assassinated bus drivers has risen steadily ever since.

Multiple times per week, gory images of slain bus drivers line the pages of the local newspapers accompanied by a sensationalized headline to match.  But while we see plenty of dead bodies, human stories are in great lack.

The film is an attempt to move beyond the blood-soaked headlines, exploring the personal stories at the heart of the story, woven together through the migration of one bus on its journey across the borders between the Americas and towards the hope that its transformation ultimately represents.

THE FILM

Every day dozens of decommissioned school buses leave the United States on a southward migration that carries them to Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as the brightly-colored camionetas that bring the vast majority of Guatemalans to work each day.  Since 2006, nearly 1,000 camioneta drivers and fare-collectors have been killed for not paying the extortion money demanded by local gangs.  LA CAMIONETA moves beyond the blood-soaked headlines, tracking the migration and resurrection of one bus as a vehicle into the personal stories of five men whose lives become intertwined with its fate.  Like the bus that unites their stories, the choice between obsolescence and innovation defines their decisions, propelling them toward an increasingly uncertain future. 

THE PLAN

Before I left I received modest scholarship support from SVA to begin the project, which was enough to cover basic travel expenses during the first phase of production.  I began in June 2010 and have completed principal photography for the film, having amassed close to 200 hours of footage that is now organized onto various hard drives.  Since returning, I've received additional financial support from SVA's Alumni Society Scholarship fund based on the short trailer for the film that I produced last fall.

I now have a working rough cut of the film and am hoping to raise another piece of the film's budget so that I can cover the costs associated with finishing the film - specifically, I need to hire 1) a story consultant to work closely with me to help develop the structure of the story, 2) a composer to create and record an original music score, and 3) additional crew to handle post-production effects, graphics, and audio engineering.

The $25,000 goal may seem like a lot, but if you enjoy the trailer for the film and choose to pre-order a copy of the film on DVD, I know we can get there!

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

Whether or not you choose to support the film, please help us stay connected!  One easy way to get involved is to friend the film on Facebook.  At the very least, you can stay up-to-date on when the film will be screening at a theater near you.

Also, Kickstarter has made it really easy to share this link with others by using the share tools, so please take a few minutes to spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, or a quick e-mail to a few friends!

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS?

Unfortunately, donations made through Kickstarter cannot be used for tax exemption because they are credit-card based.  But the good news is that this project also has fiscal sponsorship from the Visual Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization which can accept tax-deductible donations on behalf of the film.  If you would prefer to make a tax-deductible donation, please address the check to the Visual Arts Foundation and please write "MFA Soc-Doc Film - Mark Kendall, LA CAMIONETA" in the check memo.  Checks should be sent to the Visual Arts Foundation, 209 E 23rd St., New York, NY 10010. 

    *DOMESTIC + INT'L SHIPPING IS INCLUDED FOR REWARDS*

LA IDEA

Por primera vez viajé a Guatemala en el 2009. Después de haber leído y escrito muchísimo sobre Guatemala como estudiante de posgrado, querría conocer el lugar y la gente por mi mismo. 

Mi viaje a Guatemala fue parte de un gran viaje de seis semanas en bus desde Costa Rica hasta Texas. Y durante mi estadía viajaba de un lugar a otro por medio de las camionetas—los cuales  eran autobuses escolares de los E.E. U.U. que estaban fuera de servicio. Estos fueron transformados a vehículos de transporte público y  decorados con colores vivos.

Desde que los vi, me despertó una curiosidad y quise saber más. ¿Acaso eran realmente autobuses escolares viejos? ¿Cómo llegarían aquí?  ¿Y quienes serian las personas que invirtieron su atención y esfuerzo para restaurar y decorarlas? 

Entonces conversé con uno de los pilotos, quien me contó que la camioneta en que viajábamos originalmente provenía de un distrito escolar en Tennessee, a sólo 20 millas del lugar en donde vivía durante aquellos tiempos. El piloto y su sobrino habían comprado el bus recientemente y habían manejado hasta Guatemala.

Me sorprendió la cercanía de esta historia con mi hogar. Al principio no tenía ninguna intención de hacer un film, pero me encontraba pensando en aquella experiencia y la curiosidad de querer aprender creció más y más durante el transcurso del año. 

Un año después sentí la necesidad de hacer un film, y pensé que  hacer un viaje en bus  y pasar por el proceso entero de emigración y  la transformación seria un vehículo interesante para explorar las historias de las personas que hicieron posible la transformación.

TRASFONDO Y CONTEXTO

Guatemala es un país cuya historia violenta aun se mantiene firme en el presente. Habiendo recientemente emergido de una guerra civil de hace 36 años en donde el estado ha sido oficialmente  denunciado por la innegable responsabilidad de actos genocidios, Guatemala está luchando por crecer como una democracia en medio de debilidades institucionales  y en un clima de amplia impunidad. De acuerdo al reporte de la ONU del 2010, las redes de las actividades criminales dominan el 40% de las entidades gubernamentales del país.

Durante los últimos años las camionetas y los hombres quienes las manejan se han convertido en las victimas principales de una ola creciente de violencia, extorsiones pandilleras y matanzas que plagan el sistema de transporte del  país, y a la vez, estos han inculcado temor y desconfianza entre los pasajeros diariamente. Porque los pilotos llevan dinero en efectivo, diariamente las pandillas los extorsionan a cambio de seguridad y matan frecuentemente a aquellos que no puedan o se nieguen rotundamente a pagar. En el 2006 ciento cincuenta y seis de los 4,000 pilotos de camionetas del país fueron baleados y asesinados durante su jornada. Desde entonces la cifra anual de pilotos muertos ha incrementado continuamente.

Varias veces a la semana las imágenes sangrientas de pilotos asesinados llenan las páginas de los diarios locales acompañados con titulares sensacionalistas. Sin embargo mientras vemos abundantes cadáveres, son escasas las historias humanas.

El film intenta alejarse de esos titulares violentos, explorando las historias personales como parte del centro de esta historia, entretejida con la emigración de una camioneta y el  viaje de éste  atravesando las fronteras de América hacia la esperanza que su transformación representa. 

EL FILM

Cada día docenas de autobuses escolares viejos salen de los Estados Unidos en una migración hacia el sur que los lleva a Guatemala, donde son reparados, repintados, y resucitados como las camionetas brillantes que traen la mayoría de guatemaltecos al trabajo cada día. Desde 2006, casi 1.000 pilotos de camionetas y sus ayudantes han sido matados por no pagar el dinero de extorsión demandado por pandillas locales.  LA CAMIONETA intenta alejarse de esos titulares violentos, rastreando la migración y la resurrección de un autobús como un vehículo en las historias personales de cinco hombres cuyas vidas llegan a ser entrelazados con su destino. Como el autobús que une sus historias, la opción entre la caída en desuso y la innovación define sus decisiones, propulsando los hacia un futuro cada vez más incierto. 

EL PLAN

Empecé la producción en junio 2010 y he completado la fotografía principal para la película, habiendo amontonado cercano a 200 horas de grabacciones. Tu inversión en este proyecto me ayudará pagar los costos asociados con terminando la película. En los meses que vienen voy a  colaborar con un redactor para ayudarme a desarrollar la estructura de la historia.  Tu apoyo también permitiríanos enriquecer la película por emplear gente adicional para manejar efectos de post-producción, la ingeniería dle audio, una banda sonora original de música, y la producción y el embarque de las recompensas ofrecidos en esta campaña. 

OTRAS FORMAS DE APOYO

Tanto si eliges colaborar o no con la película, por favor, ¡ayúdanos a estar conectados! Una forma fácil de involucrarse es hacerte amigo de la película en Facebook. Como mínimo, estarás informado cuándo la película sea proyectada en un cine cerca de tí.

Además, Kickstarter ha hecho muy fácil compartir este link con otros utilizando las herramientas de compartir, así que, por favor, ¡tómate unos minutos para difundir la palabra a través de Facebook, Twitter, o un rápido e-mail a tus amigos!

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    All donations receive a hand-written "Thank You" note from the director. // Todos los donativos reciben una nota de "gracias" escrito a mano del director.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    A copy of the director's previous film, "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in a special "Thank You" section of the credits. // Una copia de la película anterior del director, "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en una sección especial de "gracias" en los créditos.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    A special, two-disc “Supporter Edition” DVD of the finished film with packaging unique to this campaign, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. // Una version "Edición Especial" de dos DVDs de la película terminada con el envase unico a esta campaña, una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    An autographed, two-disc “Supporter Edition” DVD, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," an exclusive "LA CAMIONETA" school bus toy, and your name in the credits. // Una Edición Especial de dos DVDs firmados por el director, una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," un autobús de juguete exclusivo de "LA CAMIONETA", y su nombre en los créditos.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    An exclusive "LA CAMIONETA" T-shirt (available in all sizes), an autographed, two-disc “Supporter Edition” DVD, the "LA CAMIONETA" school bus toy, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. // Una camiseta exclusiva de "LA CAMIONETA" (disponible en todo los tamaños), una Edición Especial de dos DVDs firmados, un autobús escolar de juguete exclusivo de , el juguete de autobús escolar de "LA CAMIONETA", una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A custom poster print of a still image from "LA CAMIONETA" suitable for framing, the "LA CAMIONETA" T-shirt, the autographed DVD, the "LA CAMIONETA" school bus toy, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. // Un póster a medida de una imagen de "LA CAMIONETA" listo para encuadrar, la camiseta de "LA CAMIONETA", el DVD firmado, el autobus de jugete de "LA CAMIONETA", una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    36 backers
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    A custom poster print of a still image from "LA CAMIONETA" suitable for framing signed and numbered by the filmmaker, the "LA CAMIONETA" T-shirt, the autographed DVD, the "LA CAMIONETA" toy, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. //
    Un póster a medida de una imagen de "LA CAMIONETA" listo para encuadrar, firmado y numerado por el director, la camiseta de "LA CAMIONETA", el DVD firmado, el autobús de jugete de "LA CAMIONETA", una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    A school bus or camioneta-themed video of your creation (max. 5 minutes) to be featured on the film’s official website, a custom poster print of a still image from "LA CAMIONETA" signed and numbered by the filmmaker, the "LA CAMIONETA" T-shirt, the autographed DVD, the "LA CAMIONETA" toy, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. // Tu propio vídeo sobre un autobús escolar o camioneta publicado en la página web oficial de la película (max. 5 minutos), un imagen personalizada de una imagen de "LA CAMIONETA" firmó y numeró por el cineasta y listo para encuadrar, la camiseta de "LA CAMIONETA", el DVD firmado, el juguete de "LA CAMIONETA", una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Exclusive, hand-painted “LA CAMIONETA” piggy bank, a custom poster print of a still image from "LA CAMIONETA" signed and numbered by the filmmaker, the "LA CAMIONETA" T-shirt, the autographed DVD, the "LA CAMIONETA" toy, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. // Una hucha exclusiva de "LA CAMIONETA" pintada a mano, un imagen personalizada de una imagen de "LA CAMIONETA" firmó y numeró por el cineasta y listo para encuadrar, la camiseta de "LA CAMIONETA", el DVD firmado, el juguete de "LA CAMIONETA", una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    An actual school bus sign (the part above the windshield that usually reads "SCHOOL BUS") from the junkyard in Guatemala custom painted and mounted on a display stand, a custom poster print of a still image from "LA CAMIONETA" signed and numbered by the filmmaker, the "LA CAMIONETA" T-shirt, the autographed DVD, the "LA CAMIONETA" toy, a copy of "THE TIME MACHINE," and your name in the credits. // Un signo verdadero del autobús escolar (la parte encima de la parabrisas que lee generalmente "AUTOBUS ESCOLAR") del deshuesadero de Guatemala que es pintada a mano y montado en un soporte de presentación, un imagen personalizada de una imagen de "LA CAMIONETA" firmó y numeró por el cineasta y listo para encuadrar, la camiseta de "LA CAMIONETA", el DVD firmado, el juguete de "LA CAMIONETA", una copia de "LA MAQUINA DEL TIEMPO," y su nombre en los créditos.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Everything else listed above plus 2 VIP tickets to the World Premiere of "LA CAMIONETA" in New York City. Can’t make it to the premiere? I’ll send you 4 tickets to a screening at the film festival closest to you!! // Todo lo mencionado arriba más 2 boletos de VIP para el Estreno Mundial de "LA CAMIONETA" en Nueva York. No se puede venir? Le enviamos 4 boletos para el estreno de la película en el festival más cercano a Uds!!

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Executive Producer credit in the film, profile creation on IMDB, and everything else listed in the rewards (except the VIP tickets to the premiere). // Crédito como Productor Ejecutivo de la película, creación de su perfil en IMDB, y todos los beneficions mencionados arriba menos los boletos de VIP para el estreno mundial.

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Funding period

- (45 days)