Residente is continuing his foray into filmmaking and will help tell the story of his native Puerto Rico.
The Calle Ocho star is teaming up with Birdman screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris to write a new film titled Porto Rico about the life of Puerto Rican revolutionary José Maldonado Román.
“It has been amazing to work with Alex,” Residente told Deadline, who first shared news of the new film. “It took me a while to find a great writer because I was looking for someone who not only is talented but also connects with the subject matter.” He added: “I found both in Alex, an amazing writer who is highly skilled at dialogues as was evident in Birdman.”
The movie is set to follow Román, known by his nickname Águila Blanca, in his fight against colonialism on the Island in the late 1800s. The Calle Ocho rapper and the filmmaker connected over their Puerto Rican identity, since both of their grandmothers were born on the island. Last year, Residente told Rolling Stone, “I’m anti-colonization and Puerto Rico is a colony of the U.S.”
“I think we have an opportunity to tell a unique story and shed light on a corner of history that until now has been undiscovered by a large part of the world,” Dinelaris told Deadline. “It’s a story about the spectacular courage and resilience of someone unwilling to bend the knee at any price. I think that’s a story that now more than ever deserves to be told.”
Dinelaris explained that he was not familiar with Residente’s work, but once they met to speak about Porto Rico, he was “immediately hooked.”
“I’ve always felt a connection to Puerto Rico, it’s where I often go to get away — and where I wrote Birdman and Still Life,” Dinelaris said. “I relish the opportunity to explore its history, my history.”
Both Residente and Dinelaris have started to write the film and are “taking our time shaping the story and focusing on being not only clever or interesting but writing dialogue that generates an emotional connection, similar to how I create music,” said Residente.
Dinelaris has some roots in music after writing the book for Broadway musical On Your Feet about the life of Gloria Estefán. He also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his work on Birdman. He also co-produced The Revenant.
As for Residente, he led direction on a documentary about his life in 2017 and worked on a 2018 documentary film about Panamanian legend Rubén Blades titled Rubén Blades Is Not My Name.