[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] An orphanage for girls, started 25 years ago by the US-based Episcopal Church in the murder capital of the world, is the subject of a new film backed by Hollywood star James Franco. Franco, the star of tv’s Freaks and Geeks, and the biopic James Dean, is perhaps better known for his roles in the Spider-Man trilogy, Pineapple Express, and In the Valley of Elah. Now, he is the executive producer of Las Chavas (Home Girls) a new documentary detailing the efforts of the Revd Spencer Reece to teach poetry to the girls of Our Little Roses home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The film will receive its premiere at an international film festival in the Spring.
Spencer Reece was an award-winning American poet before he was ordained as a priest. He travelled to Honduras to spend a year at the Our Little Roses home to learn Spanish. But, after two months he wanted to return home – uncomfortable with the level of poverty he saw in and around San Pedro Sula. But the words of one of the girls struck him: “Don´t forget us!”
He applied for a grant to teach the girls poetry – no mean feat considering he still didn’t speak Spanish very well; and returned to the home to embark on the project. He was followed by a film crew led by director Brad Coley. The film of the project, Las Chavas, is now complete. Its backers have just received confirmation that it will be shown at a forthcoming international film festival; but they are unable to say which until the festival releases its schedule.
Our Little Roses cares for around 70 girls from birth to aged 18. “The girls filmed here had lost their home but were fortunately rescued by Our Little Roses,” a press statement in support of the film says. “An abandoned girl left to the streets quickly becomes one of two things in San Pedro: a maid or a prostitute. But since the founding of this home, girls have become engineers and dentists.”
Executive producer James Franco said: “I worked with Spencer previously adapting his poem ‘The Clerk´s Tale’ into a beautiful movie. We became friends during that process and after he was ordained and went to Honduras he discussed this project with me. It seemed like another great combination of poetry and film for a great cause, so I was happy to be involved with it.”
The girl’s poems are a mixture of lament and hope. A trailer for the video (see below) translates one:
“We live in a world that's full of hate
I live in Our Little Roses in Honduras
which is next to El Bordo
Which is one of the most dangerous places
because they kill you
and follow you when you're not looking
When I was six years old I came here
I felt I was in paradise”
Another one is portrayed:
“Sometimes I want to be a turtle
To get into my shell and never come out
But I still have hope
That one day I will get up
When I see the sun after hiding in the shadows
and be the person that I always wanted to be”
Another has the words:
“I am a girl
Who has endured being invisible
Her entire life
I feel an emptiness in my soul
Which I don't know how to fill”
The film Las Chavas is making these invisible girls visible, and giving them a voice.
“Behind their ten-foot wall with round-the-clock armed guards, the girls often don´t believe such work [behind putting the film together] is being done on their behalf. That they are being remembered,” the press statement said. “Now five years later, comes both artistic gestures for the world to embrace. The unique clear voices of these girls in poems and on film.”
A book of the girls’ poems will be published by Tia Chucha Press in Autumn 2017.
Las Chavas trailer (2’09”):
Movie short giving background to the film (9’54”):