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They call La Santa Muerte the patron saint of narcos. But to her followers she's a source of solace in a world of rejection.
77 backers pledged $4,485 to help bring this project to life.

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The Life of Saint Death / La Vida de la Santa Muerte project video thumbnail
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$4,485

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In English y en Español

OUR SUBJECT:

La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, gets a bad rap: She’s often painted as the patron saint of drug cartels and violent criminals. Derived from the Aztec goddess of the underworld and shunned by the Catholic Church, this folk saint grew hugely popular in Mexican prisons in the 90s, cementing the image. More recently, her bony face has has starred in movies and shows like Savages, End of Watch and Breaking Bad; her presence always signifying violence and evil.

But there’s another side to the Bony Lady, as some affectionately call her. Among Mexican and Central American immigrants she brings solace to many in the LGBT community, those on the fringes of society and even ordinary people. They find that she doesn’t judge them for sexual orientation and other lifestyle choices. While the church turns its back, La Santa Muerte opens her fleshless arms to all.

They embrace her for her generosity in granting miracles and protecting against hatred and violence. Other devotees in the U.S. and Latin America turn to her during perilous border crossings, or dangerous work as prostitutes, taxi drivers, police or soldiers.

In Queens, New York, a community of worshippers, both LGBT and not, has formed around this illicit devotion. They build shrines to her and each year throw a big party in her honor. Across the U.S., believers are thought to number in the tens of thousands. As their ranks grow, they have attracted the notice of other devotees. This year, for the first time, the leader of an influential Mexican La Santa Muerte group will attend the party in Queens. The presence of Señora Enriqueta Vargas will lend authority across borders.

OUR PROJECT: 

We’ll produce a short video for publication with a national newspaper, magazine or blog, and a 30-minute version for entry into film festivals.

NUESTRO TEMA

La Santa Muerte tiene mala fama. A menudo la pintan como la santa de los carteles narcotraficantes y de otros criminales violentos. Derivada de la diosa azteca del inframundo y despreciada por la iglesia católica, esta santa, basada en el folclor, se hizo increíblemente popular dentro de las cárceles mexicanas en los 90s, así estableciendo su mala reputación. Últimamente su rostro huesudo ha aparecido en películas y programas, como por ejemplo Savages, End of Watch and Breaking Bad, su presencia siempre significando violencia y maldad.

Pero la Huesuda, como se le dice de cariño, tiene otra cara. Entre los inmigrantes mexicanos y centroamericanos la Huesuda proporciona consuelo a miembros de la comunidad LGBT, a esos en las orillas de la sociedad, e inclusive a la gente común y corriente. Descubren que no los juzga por su orientación sexual ni por su forma de vivir. Mientras la iglesia les da la espalda, La Santa Muerte les abre sus brazos descarnados a todos.

Sus devotos la acepta por su generosidad al concederles milagros y protegerlos del odio y la violencia. Otros, en Estados Unidos y Latinoamérica recurren a ella en momentos de peligro al cruzar la frontera y en sus trabajos de prostitutas, taxistas, policías, o soldados.

En Queens, Nueva York se ha formado un grupo de adoradores compuesto de gente común y corriente y miembros LGBT por esta devoción ilícita. Entre ellos le construyen altares y cada año la festejan en grande. En Estados Unidos se cree que el número de creyentes se encuentra en los miles. Y mientras los números aumentan, a la vez, atraen a otros devotos. Este año, por primera vez, la líder de un importante grupo mexicano de La Santa Muerte asistirá la fiesta en Queens. La presencia de la Señora Enriqueta Vargas prestará autoridad por todos los medios.

NUESTRO PROYECTO

Producir un video corto que se publicará en una revista, periódico o blog nacional y una versión de 30 minutos para festivales de cine.

Risks and challenges

We have identified numerous sources, as well as our main character in the documentary, Arely Gonzalez. They have agreed to do interviews with us, show us their faith, homes, lives and the annual party they throw for La Santa Muerte. We are experienced storytellers and video producers capable of revealing the unexplored side of this misunderstood icon.

However, our three-man crew will have to work hard to capture all the beauty and depth of this story. Using our Kickstarter funds, we will rent camera equipment and travel to as many locations as possible over a five-day period in New York City. We feel we can accomplish this with the money we are seeking. But any additional help would allow us to rent more equipment, hire an extra hand and pay for things like translated transcripts.

Help us meet and exceed our goal. We’ll do the rest.

Hemos identificado varias fuentes, y tambien a nuestra protagonista para el documental, Arely González. Están de acuerdo con las entrevistas que llevaremos a cabo y nos han invitado a su hogar, a conocer su fe, su vida y a asistir al gran homenaje a La Santa Muerte que se festeja cada año. Tenemos experiencia como narradores y video-productores capaces de revelar el lado escondido de este icono malentendido.

No obstante, nuestro equipo de tres tendrá que laborar para hacer resaltar la belleza y profundidad de esta historia. Usando los fondos recaudados por Kickstarter rentaremos cámaras y en un periodo de cinco días visitaremos tanto local sensible en la ciudad de Nueva York. Nos sentimos capaces de realizar este reportaje con los fondos sugeridos. Sin embargo, si excedemos nuestra meta podremos rentar más equipo, contratar a otro individuo para el equipo y pagar por la traducción de nuestro guión.

Si nos ayudan a obtener o sobrepasar nuestra meta, nosotros nos encargaremos de lo demás.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    PREVIEW and NAME IN CREDITS — You'll get to preview the 30-minute documentary and have your name in the credits.

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    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    LIVE ONLINE Q&A — You'll get to preview the 30-minute documentary and participate in a live, private online Q&A session. (We'll schedule two 1-hour sessions.)

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    6 backers
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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    AUTHENTIC EVENT POSTER — You'll receive the above, plus one poster of the Santa Muerte fiesta and a personalized thank you letter.

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    17 backers
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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    SCREENING PARTY — Along with the above, you'll be invited to a screening party in Los Angeles featuring a Skype Q&A with devotees, academics and more. Date and location TBD.

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    10 backers
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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    SANTA MUERTE FIGURINE — You'll be invited to attend the screening party and Q&A, have your name in a special credits section and receive a personal note and figurine popular among devotees.

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    18 backers
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Funding period

- (19 days)