Los Amigos Invisibles didn't have the time -- or the money
-- to make a movie about the Venezuelan funk band's 20 year-history. Luckily,
bassist José Rafael "Catire" Torres ran into old friend Juan Miguel Marín at
the Miami International Airport last year. Marín's band opened for the
Venezuelan funksters on a tour of the United States a few years back; he was a
fan. He thought there could be a great documentary in the story of six guys who
scrapped their way from disco dreams in Caracas to cult-stardom in New York
City and around the world. Marín didn't have any experience in filmmaking, but
Los Amigos gave him the go-ahead anyway.
Marín didn't have any money either. But he did have
Javier Andrade, a filmmaking friend back in his native Ecuador, who agreed to
direct the film. They raised money by appealing to Los Amigos fans on
the social media fundraising site, Kickstarter. More than 500 fans kicked
in at least five bucks each, raising more than $30,000 to produce La Casa del
Bassist Torres and keyboard player Armando "Odnam"
Figueredo spoke with New Times just before the world premiere of La Casa del
Ritmo at the Miami International Film Festival.
New Times: Where do you all live now?
Armando Figueredo: We're spread out around the world. A few years ago we all lived in New York City. [Guitarist] Cheo's in New York. I'm in Mexico. Some of the guys are in Miami.
Rafael Torres: I had to go back to Caracas for family business. But I'll move back to New York. I still love it.
How have you managed to stay funky for 20 years?
Torres: The most important rule is to avoid sex between members.
Figueredo: No, that's how we stayed together. How did we stay funky? We like the whole dance scene a lot. What ties us together is funk and disco.
Why make a documentary about Los Amigos Invisibles?
Figueredo: A guy actually approached us and said, "Guys, you know, you're a Latin American band from Venezuela living in NYC for nine years and you've been together for 20 years in a very harsh environment." It's a good story, because it's not like we were raised in the music industry in the 80s when the money was flowing.
What do you like most about the movie?
Torres: What I think is cool is the way it was shot. The filmmakers asked the same questions to each band member individually. In the end, it's the band telling the story, phrase by phrase, told by different band members. The concert was filmed, if I'm not wrong, with 10 cameras. The audience looks really cool. The producer and director wanted to make the movie theater look like a dance floor, a party.
Since the movie's about the band's history, I have one last question, about my favorite Amigos song ever, "Superf--ker" (2003). What exactly qualifies someone for that title?
Figueredo: It's very easy, all you need to do, is to wear nothing but your underwear, and a cape.
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Torres: You can make the cape out of a sheet or a towel, even a sweater. Or any other kinky stuff you like.
--Celeste Fraser Delgado