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With Seán Martinfield

Seán Martinfield
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Cuco Gomez-Gomez Is Dead! - Francisco Lorite in shorts

By Seán Martinfield

August 9, 2006

A series of gun shots has just pierced the afternoon calm. Gold Fish the goldfish dives for cover at the bottom of her clean and clear glass bowl. You would too - knowing what she knows, from her vantage point and with plenty of nothing else to do but eavesdrop. The cops will be here any moment. Down at the live-in hotel at 617 N. Orange Drive, everyone knows life ain't always a bowl of cherries. Just ask the very handsome / well-dressed killer sprinting up the street. In the room marked as #169 another guy (described by the hysterical young woman - soaking next door in the bathtub of #168 - as, "so beautiful") is on his back, stretched across the bed. During the surprise attack and rapid flurry of shots, even his pillows got blown to bits. A feather descends; the quill lands straight into the well of the dead man's left nostril. Cuco Gomez-Gomez is dead!

Beginning Friday, August 11th through Saturday the 12th, the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films (SF Shorts) inaugurates their start of something big. From 900 (no more than 10-minute-long) entries submitted by filmmakers around the world, 56 have been chosen including comedies, dramas, experimental films and documentaries. The event promises to be very lively, stretching itself out at the Roxie Cinema, the Victoria Theatre, California College of the Arts, and Ace's Auto Wrecking Yard. I recently seized a rare opportunity to speak to one of the entrants, Francisco Lorite - killer actor and director, producer, writer and one-time casting agent for Gold Fish (now deceased). His fast-paced production of, "Cuco Gomez-Gomez Is Dead" is part of Program One, screening this Friday afternoon at The Roxie. A native of Spain, Francisco Lorite will be celebrating his 31st birthday on Friday as well. I wanted to know the most important thing he could convey to me about his experience as a novice filmmaker, specifically to the young and promising community of Latino artists here in the Bay Area. His immediate response was to proudly claim a particular debt of gratitude to The City, something that has had the most obvious and profound effect upon his career.

"I learned to speak English in San Francisco! I went to high school in Spain and then decided to explore the U.S. It was my first time in this country and I came to San Francisco. I went to a language school near San Francisco State University."

"Cuco" was released in 2005 and garnered the Imagen Award for "Best Theatrical Short or Student Film". The Imagen Foundation was established 20 years ago, specifically to create an Award recognizing top Latino entertainment talent. At the 2005 (black tie) Award Show held at the Beverly Hilton 700 celebrities, influencers and supporters of the Latino entertainment community turned out to watch Mr. Lorite and 21 others receive their awards and to celebrate the advancements of Latino artists over the past two decades.

(01:08) CONCHITA A. [The Hotel Super; lives in Room 110]: I could tell you a lot of things about this hotel and the tenants in it. I have been the Super here for six months. I am not the kind to start rumors."

(01:49) ANGELA DE LA V [A Vocal Artist, lives in Room 162]: Cu-co/cua-cua-/cua-cua/cua-cua/cua-ca!

For Francisco Lorite, language is everything. It is the cornerstone to success. He is very firm in his commitment to mastering all manner of communication. So are the members of his Cast. They are his friends and peers; the kind of crowd every student actor and struggling performer has ever known or will know. They also served as his Crew - each previously agreeing to pony-up $100 to become involved in the project in the first place and then sweating behind the scenes out of passionate loyalty to the script and the growing faith in their new production company: A Cool Co-Op. All this was preceded by a spaghetti and wine dinner prepared by Francisco himself.

(01:35) HOMELESS MAN [Lives in the basement of 617 N. Orange Drive]: His cooking sucked!

"It starts with the script!" says the very handsome Lorite.

(02:38) HOMELESS MAN: Cuco Gomez-Gomez was a very nice man, yes he was. Yes! He was. I knew it right away the very first time I went through his garbage.

In order to be a filmmaker you have to get what is in your head out onto the paper. You must write about what you know and that is not an easy task.

(05:27) CONCHITA A.: But I am not so surprised what happened to Cuco Gomez-Gomez. Especially because of his strange relationship with the tenant in Room 165. They tried to hide it from me. But I think - those two were lovers. And maybe - in a fit of passion - the other one, you know? - pow, pow, pow, pow, pow …!

"You can be anywhere," Francisco insists. "As long as the story is good, it will travel."

Who knows how Francisco Lorite knows what he knows and how did that come out in the fashioning of the script for "Cuco Gomez-Gomez Is Dead!" - ?

(06:03) TRIPLET #1 [Translates the vehement speech of his brother, TRIPLET #2]: My brother says, "The CIA killed Cuco Gomez-Gomez to stop the birth of the New People's Republic of Cucuruguay." Cuco would have wanted it that way.

(06:12) HOMELESS GUY: He would also bring me down food - very spicy, not my cup of tea. But, at least he didn't want anything in exchange. Not like that horny Cuban wench from 110. Brings me left-overs. Cuco Gomez-Gomez' death was the effect. I wouldn't be surprised if she was the cause.

(06:35) ANGELA DE LA V [Continues chanting]: Cu-co/cu-cu-/cu-cu/cu-cu/cu-co!

(07:00) GIRL IN TUB [She is hysterical, weeping]: Why did you have to kill yourself over me? Didn't you know I was yours forever? Why did you have to shoot yourself?

(07:15) BOXER [The tenant in 165, alleged lover of Cuco Gomez-Gomez. His broken and bandaged nose make him barely audible except for]: That's all I'm saying!

Francisco Lorite is now in the middle of his next project, a feature-length film, RANDOM. Lorite describes it as, "A thinking man's revenge film. Thanks to the success of "Cuco" and the momentum from the awards, I'm getting the attention from the supes in Hollywood."

Lorite's inspiration for RANDOM comes from his being randomly stabbed in Boston.

(07:40) Full head-shot of THE HUSBAND. He holds up a photo of himself (smiling, holding a small fluffy white dog) and a woman (also smiling, in a pearl necklace, presumably THE WIFE). Camera pans down to his hand, he is wearing a wedding ring.
(07:46) A LITTLE BLACK GIRL points to the Hotel mailboxes. The key-hook for Room 169 is empty.

(07:50) In the foreground, THE WOMAN from the photo. She is sitting up in bed, smoking a cigarette; the wedding ring on her finger is the same style as THE HUSBAND in the photo. In the background, THE HAIRY-CHESTED MAN is resting on the bed. He appears to be exhausted.

(07:52) In the hallway, shot of door #169

(07:55) CONCHITA A.: Room 165 did it.

"The stabbing made me look at life in a different way," Francisco says. "RANDOM is my reaction to that event. The nurse who took care of me said - 'You can thank your angels. That blade missed your kidneys by a hair.'"

(07:56) TRIPLET #1: I was at work.

ANGELA DE LA V: Room 110 did it.


COP: Gang related.

(08:01) BOXER barely audible]: Room 138!

Francisco's nurse suggested he might benefit from more than prayer. "Your body was invaded" she said, "You need to talk to somebody."

(08:20) Upward shot of GOLD FISH in her bowl. She shimmies nervously toward the surface of the water. ANGELA continues beating her drums. A dog is barking. The GIRL IN THE BATHTUB is crying, "Cuco, my love!" THE HUSBAND continues down the hall. He has loosened his necktie.

(08:25) Headshot of THE WIFE, sounds of heavy breathing, she is straddling THE HAIRY-CHESTED MAN.

"I went coo-coo. Anything set me off. RANDOM has become my basis to explore the ideas of retribution."

(08:30) THE HUSBAND places his hand on the door marked: 169.

(08:32) GOLDFISH [Her eyes are bulging]: Huh?!?

(08:33) Shot of THE HUSBAND's feet. He takes a step back, kicks open the door, fires six bullets.

"Don't wait for the perfect piece, the perfect script. Don't say to yourself - 'How can I make that better?'"

(08:39) Shot of THE WIFE in profile, facing left. She purses her lips, reacting to the blasts of gunfire.

(08:42) Headshot of THE HUSBAND, in front of his face the smoking gun points toward the camera.

(08:43) THE WIFE [Still in profile]: What was that?

"Don't wait! Just do it. Trust your voice. Trust your story."

(08:44) THE HAIRY-CHESTED MAN [Rises into the frame from the right. He is in profile, facing left toward the noise from the gun, next to THE WIFE]: I think it was across the hall.

(08:47) Headshot of THE HUSBAND, the smoking gun is in front of his face, pointed toward the camera.

"Don't second guess!"

(08:53) In the background, daylight streams from the bullet holes in the wall of Room 169. A man wearing glasses, with a neatly-trimmed moustache, glances from left to right, a flurry of feathers falls around him. In slow motion - the revolving blades from a ceiling fan, the whirring sounds in half-speed. It is CUCO GOMEZ-GOMEZ. He falls back onto the bed. He is dead.

"Don't say, 'When I have more success….'"

(09:18) THE HUSBAND has leaned against the door of Room 169; the numbers wiggle, they are very loose, the #9 falling into a #6 position.

(09:32) Overhead shot of CUCO GOMEZ-GOMEZ, head on the pillow, eyes wide open, facing the camera.

(09:38) A feather plunges into the left nostril of CUCO GOMEZ-GOMEZ.

(09:44) THE HUSBAND's eyes are wide open. He runs off.

"Say to yourself, 'This is the type of story I would pay to see.'"

For tickets and locations and more information on each of the entries to the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films, visit: http://www.sfshorts.org/program.shtml

Francisco Lorite's RANDOM should be in the can by March. He promised me another chat.




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