“Living in Exile” a Documentary with Carlos Mejia Godoy

to premiere in California

Carlos Mejia Godoy, Nicaraguan singer-songwriter, is the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Jon Silver.

Filmmaker Jon Silver’s documentary on the life in exile of the author of “Nicaragua, Nicaragüita” premieres in California on May 18th.

By 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – Far from the Nicaragua, Nicaragüita of his famous song, Carlos Mejia Godoy is like a mockingbird taken out of its natural habitat and kept in a glass box. Nonetheless. his voice hasn’t been extinguished, and from an alien setting he’s reinvented himself to begin a new life. That’s the portrayal by US filmmaker Jon Silver, which will be screened on Thursday, May 18th.

“Living in Exile. Carlos Mejía Godoy” is the name of the documentary that doesn’t focus only on Carlos Mejia the famous singer-songwriter, but portrays the man, the exile, who had to leave everything for fear of falling into the web of a dictatorship. Beyond that drama, which he shares with more than half a million Nicaraguans who have gone into exile since 2018, the film introduces us to a man who has found new forms of art in order to stay alive.

The singer-songwriter explains that his meeting with filmmaker Jon Silver was accidental. Mejia Godoy is currently living in Santa Rosa, California. Silver, the “important documentarian who has been in Nicaragua several times since the 1980s” arrived in the same town.

“By pure coincidence, he’s the neighbor of a woman who works with my sister. He didn’t know I was here. He knows me and my work well, and he told me he wanted to make a documentary. So I said: ‘Let’s do it,” Mejia Godoy told 100% Noticias.

Jon Silver explained that it would be a short film, some 20 minutes long. Then, “without abandoning the topic of music, he asked me what I was doing, and I talked to him about my oratorio to Michiguiste. I began that work about four years ago, based on the river in my home town that no longer exists, because erosion and deforestation extinguished it. From that topic, something came up that attracted his attention.”

Carlos Mejia Godoy notes that his tiny town of Somoto is full of secrets that have to do with his early childhood and later development. “To me, everything causes nostalgia, and let’s not even talk about the town’s iconic personalities. I talked to him about all that, but while we were talking, I was painting. He didn’t know I did this, since I only took it up a short while ago. It’s a new vocation that was born in me with the pandemic and exile, and from not having any more important work to do, since my concerts are once in a great while, ‘when a Bishop dies’, as we say.”

“When he saw my paintings, he told me it was something new, since I’d drawn cartoons and caricatures, but I’d never added color, used oils. He asked me if I’d taken classes, but I told him no. I look at the tutorials on YouTube – there are things there that are free and courses you pay for, but I make use of the former. I learned how to place the paper, good color combinations, so I grab some posterboard and begin to work. I’ve already sold my first painting for 500 dollars, and I’m preparing my first personal show in San Francisco,” he declared to 100% Noticias.

Documentary screening and a new book

The filmmaker was fascinated with the paintings, but decided to include all facets of Carlos Mejía Godoy into the short film. To get the film started, the singer-songwriter began talking about his life, his music, and his painting while playing his most representative songs on a piano.

“I went over to an acoustic grand piano and started playing my music. That’s not the usual instrument I use, because the Nicaraguan 6×8 tempo doesn’t sound good on the piano, but I played the songs on the piano and showed my paintings. Each one has a story, just like my songs,” he confided.

Carlos Mejía Godoy is busy with many projects. A week ago, his book Y el verbo se hizo canto [“And the verb became a song”] went on sale through Amazon. Carlos Mejia states that this is the first book he considers really complete, although he previously published two small works that he qualifies as modest: La república de los pájaros [“The republic of the birds”] and La pastorela nicaragüense [“Nicaraguan pastorela”] .

The memoir, containing the history of 50 of his songs, can be purchased in Spanish on Amazon. At the same time, Carlos Mejia is preparing his first pictorial exhibition for September.

The documentary will premiere on May 18th at 6 pm at the Café Frida Gallery in the Santa Rosa Downtown Arts District. The event is free and will include a display of 8 paintings of the singer-songwriter. The documentary screening will kick off Carlos Mejia Godoy’s celebration of his 80 years of life. On May 21st, he can be heard in concert at the Downey Theater, 8435 Firestone Boulevard, Downey, California.

[Editor’s note: Jon Silver told us the documentary will become widely available in the coming month or so and we will make that known to our readers.] 

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.