MANOS DE ORO
In 2018, my father, a lifelong mechanic, was hospitalized for a month due to a very serious condition. Despite his agonizing physical pain, what hurt him the most was his inability to work, perform any hard labor, and be a provider. "Manos De Oro" tells the story on the effects of this feeling.
Inclusion StatementOur foundation is built entirely around diversity and inclusion. With a Mexican-American Writer/Director and a Filipino-American Producer, the film strives to humanize and validate the post-retirement anxiety of a Mexican man living in the U.S. Not as a criminal or as a thug— but as a real person.
About The Project
"Growing up in a traditional Mexican household, I did not have to look far to learn what it meant to be a hard worker. My father, a lifelong mechanic and overall lover of manual labor, would regularly work 80+ hour weeks in order to make ends meet for us. And on his days off? Those days were reserved for my siblings and I to help him mow the lawn, pick up trash, and keep ourselves busy with chores outside. Despite this obsessive behavior that made him appear seemingly invincible, the day came when my father had finally met his match.
Manos De Oro was born as a direct result of an experience that my family had to deal with in October of 2018. After being diagnosed with a debilitating condition, my father was hospitalized and forced to stay in hospital bed for a month. Although his physical pain was frightening and unbearable, my father's darkest hours were spent coping with the overwhelming anxiety of not being able to work. His unrelenting desire to get his hands dirty and be productive again drove him into tears every single day. It was heartbreaking.
The experience of watching my father go through what he did moved me in a lot of ways, and it fueled me tell a story that kept one question in mind; what will it look like when a man like this, an obsessive workaholic, is forced to hang it all up? Ultimately, this film is designed to be both a feeling and a reflection; a feeling that emotionally invites audiences to hold up a mirror to themselves, and a reflection of our culture that allows them to thoughtfully consider the nature of what they truly value in this life. Thank you."
Logline: After months of struggling with a crippling arthritis, a former mechanic attempts to regain his identity as a working man with purpose.
Synopsis: Manos De Oro tells the story of Sergio, a former mechanic, who is in the middle of a crippling battle with arthritis. Sergio lives with his son, Fernando, who still works at the mechanic shop where his father used to work. Tensions are high at home-- who is the new provider of the family and who is really taking care of who? While Fernando is away at work, Sergio spends his days around the house trying to make himself feel useful, despite his debilitating condition. This is a man of very few words and one who will never ask for help.
When the opportunity to fix an old family friend’s truck arises, Sergio begins a downward spiral towards denial and self-destructive behavior in an attempt to regain his identity as a working man with purpose. As a result, his troubled relationship with his son is put to the test. Manos De Oro is a deeply personal portrait of a man that once was, but no longer is.
Obsession. Acceptance. Mental health. At the very core of our film, Manos De Oro is comprised of these thematic elements. On the one hand, our goal is to unravel the mind of an obsessive workaholic and shine an honest light on the anxities that this worldview can bring along with the damage it causes to the loved ones around you.
On the other hand, acceptance is everything. The acceptance and self-awareness of these behaviors is critical in order to break free from them, and through Sergio’s story, we will take our audience by the hand as they witness one man’s journey of how he got there.
Mental health. The current standing of mental health in the Latino community often breeds many men and women to become experts in either ignoring their pains or covering them up (usually with work). This is done out of fear of being labeled as crazy or “one of those” disruptive attention seekers. This dominant attitude is wrong and harmful, and we aim to demonstrate what can happen when helped is not seeked out.
Raised between Texas and Mexico, Julio César Cedillo has been an actor for the past 30 years and is best known for his showcase performance as the titular character in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which marked Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut and went on to win two major awards at the 58th Cannes Film Festival. Julio can also be seen as Fausto Alarcon in Denis Villeneuve’s gripping 2015 masterpiece Sicario, starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. Most recently, Julio's work can be seen in Netflix’s worldwide hit show Narcos: Mexico acting alongside a cast that includes Diego Luna and Michael Peña. He prides himself in bringing real nuances to his work based on real life cultural experiences. Ultimately, his greatest role to date is being a father to his three children that he loves and cherishes.
Born in Mexico City to a mother who is a painter and a father who is a cinematographer, Jero Medina has had a full artistic upbringing. In Mexico, he first appeared on stage at the age of 4. He spent his early teenage years in New York City where he began his acting career and later moved to Los Angeles before heading back home to Mexico City, where he currently resides. Jero is also part of the Primitive Grace Theatre group in NYC, directed by Paul Calderon and David Zayas, and is a proud bicultural actor-- enabling him to work both in the U.S. and in Mexico. His latest work includes the film Belle de Jour (remake) and the upcoming season of Netflix’s hit show Narcos: Mexico.
Visually, there was never any question that Manos De Oro would be shot in striking black-and-white imagery. In the early stages of conceptualizing how we would commit the images I vividly saw in my head onto the screen, the choice was always clear.
The idea of perspective has been at the center of many of our conversations when discussing the cinematography for this project. Through a cinema verité and docu-style way of filmmaking, we hope to achieve an intimate, poetic, and often claustrophobic feeling that direcly mimics Sergio's perspective and emotional journey as we find his on-screen truth.
Our Cinematographer, Mark Ragunton, and I have been influenced by various films that we believe our strong references for how we would like to visually tell this story. These films include Güeros (2014), Wild Strawberries (1957), The 400 Blows (1959), Mommy (2014), and The Wrestler (2008).
June - October: Pre-Production
October 10-13: (4) Days of Filming
October - December: Editing, Musical Score & Sound Design
December - April: Festival Submission Process
April - July: World Premiere
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About This Team
Merced Elizondo is a Writer and Director based out of Dallas, TX and has long been a creative soul. After a summer internship at NBCUniversal in 2015, Merced launched his filmmaking career by working on multiple productions all across Texas and later graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. Since then, he has devoted his attention to independent filmmaking and is currently developing short film and feature film projects to write/direct/produce in 2020. His latest effort, Manos De Oro, finds him in the director’s chair for the third time.
Mark Ragunton is a Filipino Cinematographer based out of Dallas, TX. With a Producer's background and a focus on cinematography, Mark is driven to launch, execute, and photograph narrative films with a cinematic eye and a human touch. His ambition to tell emotionally-charged and purposeful stories stems from his belief that images speak to the viewer's soul. In 2018, Mark’s creative relationship with Merced eventually led him to shoot his short film thriller, Just Lie Here. Manos De Oro will be Mark's second collaboration with Director Merced Elizondo.
Fascinated with the art of cinema since the age of two, Jazzie Gonzalez is well-versed in the act of storytelling. She has cultivated her talents with notable clients such as HGTV, ABC Studios, Uber, and Toyota. Jazzie is now focused on her career as an Assistant Director in the exciting world of independent filmmaking. With two short films currently on the festival circuit, Jazzie is collaborating with Merced Elizondo for the second time on his new project, Manos De Oro.
Matthew Thomas is a Composer from Austin, TX. He previously scored Merced Elizondo’s previous two films, Right Where You Left Me and Just Lie Here. Manos De Oro will be the pair’s third collaboration together. Other credits include director Terrence Malick’s upcoming epic A Hidden Life and comedy series Public Displays of Insanity, which was recently released on Amazon Prime. He currently studies at the University of Southern California’s Screen Scoring Program and will be earning a Masters in Music next spring.
Carolina Govea is a Dallas-based Production Designer. She launched into the world of filmmaking via the YouTube channel Sock Puppet Parody in 2014 as the Puppet Master. The channel’s rapid success on the internet allowed her to carve her own unique path in the industry and begin to take on other ventures. Since then, Carolina has garnered extensive experience on art-heavy projects that have established her as one of the most talented Production Designers in the area for short and feature film projects. She will be working alongside Merced for the first time on his upcoming project, Manos De Oro.
Elinia Eads is a Dallas-based Make-up and FX Artist. Since completing training in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2010, she went on to work in the local fashion/film industry and later, with Playboy TV Network. In 2012, after moving back to Dallas and developing connections in the local film/television industry, she began to work on shows such as Robert Rodriguez's: Rebel Without A Crew, Married at First Sight, ABC's False Profits and local horror flick - Satanic Panic. Manos de Oro will be Elinia's first collaboration with Director, Merced Elizondo.
Originally from Sherman, TX, Summer Moore is a Dallas-based Costume Designer that has been sewing and working with the latest in fashion since she was only 8-years-old. For the last two years, Summer’s extensive wardrobe experience has found her working on some of the best feature and short film productions all around Texas, including 2019’s 90 Feet From Home and Fangoria’s Satanic Panic and V.F.W. She hopes to soon be responsible for the entire design and sewing process of costumes on major productions in 2020. Manos De Oro will be her second collaboration with Merced Elizondo.