Being surrounded by filmmakers and fanatics really enabled me to appreciate all kinds of genres in film instead of immediately approaching it with scepticism.
Hats off to all the amazing artists who bring foreign concepts through film and challenge the audiences. Films that particularly play on my heart strings though, are mostly the ones that are based on true stories.
This is why I love filmmaking – showing stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.
I think of them as movies all the time. Of course, once I started writing, my memory suddenly seems to have forgotten all the wonderful ideas and stories I thought of, and it also never fails to remind me that I should’ve written them down.
Long story short, here are five true stories I would want to see a film made on.
1. The world’s poorest president
José Mujica is his name. He was the president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, and what sets him apart from other presidents is not only the fact that he drives to work in his old Volkswagen Beetle but generally his modest lifestyle. Instead of moving into Uruguay’s presidential palace, he stayed on his austere farm, donating 90% of his income to charity.
His views on politics are very challenging and he certainly lives out what he preaches. In one of the videos, Mujica said “Either you’re happy with very little, free of all that extra luggage, because you have happiness inside, or you don’t get anywhere! I am not advocating poverty. I am advocating sobriety.”
Not only would his presidency be enough material for a film, but his whole life was adventurous throughout. He was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in Uruguay of which he spent almost 10 years in solitary confinement. He was an urban guerrilla fighter, prisoner, minister of agriculture and ultimately the president of an entire nation.
In my mind, I already picture Mujica strolling through his farm with his wife and dogs in the opening credits of the movie, before flashing to crowds of hands reaching out to shake his hand, or him sitting in the prison cell pondering life.
2. The suffragette who threw herself in front of a horse
This was not the only thing that Emily Davison did in her attempt to fight for women to vote in the early 20th century. After leaving her post as a teacher in 1908 she dedicated herself to the movement.
At one point, she actually hid in a cupboard in the Chapel of the palace of Westminster in the night of the 1911 census, in order to list her place of residence as the “House of Commons” on the Census form.
That scene would definitely have a lot of potential for comedic elements in it.
She was arrested 9 times, went on hunger strike and ultimately died 4 days after being run over by King George V’s horse in an effort to draw attention to her cause for women’s suffrage.
Throwing yourself in front of a horse or moving vehicle is probably not the smartest idea, but she radically fought for what she believed in – hats off to that.
3. The Righteous Ambassador – Luis Martins de Souza Dantas
As the brazilian diplomat in France during the German occupation, Dantas enabled up to 800 people – the ‘Undesirables’ – who were persecuted by the Nazis, to escape to Brazil.
He did this by granting diplomatic visas to Brazil. Later on, he had to forge the date or any information on Jewish ancestry on the visas because he had been ordered to stop issuing them.
He ultimately had to face disciplinary hearings for his actions, but escaped punishment because he was about to retire. None of his efforts benefitted him in any way, and he was purely driven by mercy and compassion.
I’m already envisioning scenes in which his wife for example, encourages him to do what is right even in the face of opposition. Or, another picture that comes into my mind, is his colleagues starting to conspire against, or trying to figure out what to do. At one point, his office was broken into by the Nazis and he was arrested… that will serve as a good chunk of action in the movie.
4. The Mother of the Nile – Lillian Trasher
This is my personal favorite. Her life story is simply inspirational. Trasher was born in Georgia in 1887 and at the age of 23 she left for Egypt, with less than $100 in her pocket. She did not know what her endeavor would look like, but she saw a need and was determined to meet it.
Starting off with taking in one child that was given to her by a dying mother, she soon had 50, 300 and ultimately 25,000 children and orphans under her care, without any initial support from an organization or funding. She even made her own bricks to build a house for the kids in her care.
It is said of her that she never turned a single child down. She faced a lot of obstacles, protected her children in the face of war, was confronted with a lot of difficulties with the government but never gave up.
There is so much content for a film in this life story, with a lot of elements of humour that can be woven throughout. Every single time a child came to her could be a film on its own, really.
5. Gaining independence through song – The Singing Revolution
This is a fascinating series of events in the three Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 1980’s. These three countries gained independence from the Russian occupation through Singing.
It started with the traditional Mass Choir Festivals where the songs were prescribed and censored by the Russian authorities. The stage itself held up to 30,000 performers, and when they started singing the unofficial Baltic anthem, the authorities simply couldn’t shut them up. That marked the start of the Singing Revolution.
Several night-singing demonstrations followed, along with what is called “The Baltic Chain”. For a stretch of 620 km, the Baltics formed a human chain from the north of Estonia to the south of Lithuania, singing all through the night in an appeal for independence.
Just reading up on this gave me goosebumps – three nations coming together to sing for freedom!
What are your thoughts? Do you have any stories you would want to see a movie made on?