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“Aroma de Azucenas” transports Puerto Rican filmmaker Julián Fernández Garnik from his childhood to film festivals

The Puerto Rican filmmaker Julián Fernández Garnik would never have imagined that Saul Davilathe emblematic lily seller on the streets of Santurcina and whose mother bought him flowers when he was a child, would be the protagonist of his short film “Scent of Lilies”.

It was precisely an invitation to emerging filmmakers in ‘Santuce is Law’or that led this young man to go in search of an iconic symbol of the city, and all roads led to Saul.

“I’m from Carolina, but I studied near Loíza Street and grew up in the area where the great Saúl has sold lilies for more than 50 years. I clearly remember the sweet aroma that enveloped our home every time my mother bought Saúl’s lilies.“, Julián Fernández Garnik said in an interview with The new day.

With the unmistakable cry announcing the arrival of the flowers ““aaaaazucenas, aaaaaazucenas” Saúl goes through the history of Santurce, greeting all the residents.

Although murals, big heads at the San Sebastián Street Festivals, paintings, songs, ballet concerts, cultural festivals and even publications in the New York Times have been dedicated to this character from Puerto Rican urban daily life, Julián wanted to pay him a tribute. “living tribute” from another perspective, so that not only Santurce felt it was theirs, but all of Puerto Rico. This is how “Aroma de Azucenas” was born.

Saúl Dávila, the emblematic lily seller in Puerto Rico (Supplied)

“We wanted to sit down with him and have him tell us his story, to create a historical document that you could share with your loved ones. We put together little by little collage of the Santurce neighborhood with the central character that united it; Saúl,” Julián explained about the creative process, accompanied by director of photography Alex Forestier.

This film revolves around Saúl, a traveling flower vendor in Puerto Rico who has stood the test of time and has sold lilies “almost every day for the last 50 years”resisting widespread automation and the displacement of jobs like his to become an iconic symbol of the cultural tradition of the Puerto Rican people.

They were two days of arduous filming, but of a cultural enrichment that for Julián has no explanation. “I felt like I was talking to a celebrityhe said between laughs while detailing the lessons that the making of this documentary left him.

“At a time when many people are gravitating towards increasing social isolation and seeking to be superficially happy, Saúl reminds us, with his contagious smile and his mantra of treating everyone with kindness, that it is always preferable to stop, enjoy the aroma of the flowers and finding joy in the essential, pure and beautiful parts of our daily lives,” Garnik concluded.

Julián’s films have been awarded and screened at other international festivals, including the Oregon Short Film Festivalhe Rincón International Film Festival and the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival.

Puerto Rican filmmaker Julián Garnik
Puerto Rican filmmaker Julián Garnik (Supplied)

Recently, “Aroma de Azucenas” was part of the International Latino Film Festival in Tampa Bay and is preparing to debut soon in the Latin American Festival in Texas.

For this talented young man, Puerto Rico has countless talented filmmakers emerging and independent waiting for a vote of confidence to begin “exporting” the high quality of Puerto Rican cinema.

“Yes, our industry must believe in the big Hollywood stories that come to film on the Island, and leave money and jobs, but also in the stories of independent filmmakers, because they have stories that also matter,” he said.

By the end of the year they hope to have “Aroma de Azucenas” available “online”.

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