Only a few days ago a panhandler in a wheelchair was shot and killed not too far north of downtown Miami. The motive of the suspected shooter -- who was taken into custody after a police chase -- remains unknown, but it's doubtful the deceased, 58-year-old Israel Zequra, had enemies bitter enough to shoot him dead. You may add this killing to the long list of random acts of violence that often befalls the destitute.
Inspired by all too common horror stories against humanity like Zequra's, Miami-based independent filmmakers David Jaure and Paul Alexandro are taking action. They have created a nonprofit to benefit the homeless and a moving film, entitled 3:13, about a man (played by Alexandro) who loses his job, his family, his home and ultimately his life as a desperate soul living on the streets of Downtown Miami.
Jaure wrote the screenplay and directed the film. After three years in the making, numerous film festivals have picked up the movie, and it has won awards for acting and directing in several festivals in Spain. Most recently it took the grand prize at the San Antonio Film Festival.
See also: Homeless Woman Beaten to Death on Miami Sidewalk
New Times: Congratulations on the Grand Prize award from the San Antonio Film Festival. What was that like? What did they say about the film that inspired them to choose it for the award?
David Jaure: The last day of the Festival, the awards ceremony, they were announcing all the awards as my brother and I were sitting and cheering for some great friends we made at the Festival. The last award of the ceremony was the Grand Prize. When they call out the name '3:13,' I truly thought it was a dream, and had to stand up with my brother to receive the award. Why didn't I expect it? One, our film was made with true love of the art, where all actors and most of the crew worked for no pay. Two, we had no big name actors in our film, and we're competing against films with known actors like Daniel Baldwin, William Baldwin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gary Busey...just to name a few.
Ninty-five percent of the people that watched our film had no idea the real things that happen to the homeless and how vulnerable they are to social indifference. The audience asked many questions, and I believe we really touched their heart. Many of them, after watching the Film have come to us personally and mentioned they were once before at that stage of either being homeless or homeless for several months. They open up to me.
A title card opens the film saying it is based on true events. Is it one story or an amalgamation of anecdotes?
Everything that happens to Peter has happened to real homeless people. It is an amalgamation of true events, put together into one story that makes our movie. It is these stories, that make our film so real. It is not the typical feel-good Hollywood flick with a happy ending. I believe the audience nowadays wants to go watch a movie that makes you change the way you feel and think when you leave the theater. That is my mission, to create reality in film. If I could do that and use this media in a positive way, like creating awareness, then I will be very happy.
With proceeds from the film benefiting homeless people, this is clearly a subject close to you. What is your personal connection with homelessness?
My brother and I used to work for 20 years in Downtown Miami and parked two blocks away from our office. In 1999, while walking back and forth, we saw several homeless people. As the years passed, we noticed the number of homeless people growing, especially in the late 2000s. Some we saw everyday, became acquainted, gave them food, clothing, and money. They are very fragile and not all of them will tell you their stories.
You depict the extreme evil and kindness of a variety of people: young, old; male, female; people in authority others who are outright outlaws. It's a powerful, varied depiction. What made you decide on all these different depictions because it really shows how alone this man is.
When you write a script, you also put your life experiences on paper. Good and evil is everywhere. It sometimes comes out of nowhere. It is an animal instinct in human beings. In statistics, the average hate crimes against homeless people are under the age of 30. But when I write the good and evil in each character, it is something you have to feel at the moment. Statistics always help, but when I wrote each character and scene, it's almost as if I am living this character.