Pursuing his dream of making films internationally, Maximiliano Barrientos did not hesitate to leave his life behind in Posadas, Misiones, to filming a short film in England. But the pandemic thwarted his plans and when he was stranded and unemployed, he had to sell even his camera to be able to eat and pay the rent. The 850 euros that he had saved disappeared due to the high cost of living in England and ended up in a street situation, very depressed. And when everything seemed to have no solution and he was planning to return to Argentina, he was presented with a new opportunity to start over: crossed to France, he settled in the house of some friends and with just 15 euros he started a gastronomic micro-enterprise that does not stop growing and adding customers.
The idea came up one rainy day while he was thinking about how to multiply that little money that he still kept in his pockets. In a moment of hindsight, he recalled that during his childhood he sold chipá with his grandfather and thought that home-cooking could become a job opportunity in the face of so much uncertainty.
He started offering his snacks based on cassava starch and semi-hard cheese in Facebook groups (of Argentines and Paraguayans in Paris) and then he gathered the courage to settle in front of the Eiffel Tower and offer them to tourists. Without expecting it, His publications went viral, they began to contact him from various parts of the city and he became known as “El chipero de París”.
His goal was to try to get a student visa or a visa called “Talent” (which is granted for long stays, equivalent to a residence permit) before November 5, the date on which his permit to reside as a tourist expired, but not so. achieved and now resides in France illegally. “I live in fear of being deported”, Maxi admitted to Infobae while waiting for the filming of a film that would allow him to regularize his legal situation.
“I am stranded in France, I cannot work, I earn just enough to pay the rent and I have a race against time. Film festivals are approaching Paris and to improve my situation the only alternative is to make a film to obtain an exceptional Visa that is granted to renowned artists. My life looks like a movie but it’s the harsh reality”Said the young man, who has the help of the Argentine lawyer Carolina Baza.
“She contacted me on Facebook, she opened the doors of her office in Paris and her heart to listen to my story and thus help me to get out of this painful and frustrating situation,” she recalled almost 11 months after leaving her homeland to succeed as a filmmaker.
“Together we sought to solve my legal situation in France and came to the conclusion that there was only one way to go to get out of the abyss: shoot a film in Paris that can compete and win an award or be able to exceed Europe’s high film standards to obtain a visa”Maxi recounted.
Aware that with the sale of the chipá it will be impossible for him to raise the 45 thousand euros he needs for the filming of “The dark side of Paris -a kind of reality show that portrays drug trafficking, the white slave trade and other Parisian mafias- decided to expand the menu and He added the Paraguayan soup, the asado, the gnocchi, the sweet potato and the sweet bread.
“Thanks to the appetites of the Argentines and Paraguayans, the roasts sell well and thanks to the Arabs and the French I get good quality meat. But also I have to go through the murkiest places in Paris to get cassava starch, sausages and blood sausages “, admitted the chipero while recounting the risks to which he must submit to survive.
He even said that his arrival in France it generated an unthinkable war for the territory of the chipá that is disputed with other Paraguayans. “What started as healthy competition ended in a commercial battle. And I, as a filmmaker, cannot face the Paraguayan chiperos. My great disadvantage is that I am Argentine selling a typical food of his country. But how do I have to keep selling to shoot my movie I use my knowledge to boost my business by uploading spots and advertising campaigns for my products to my social networks “, took pride in the face of adversity.
But that is not all. It was also encouraged to open a profile on the GoFoundMe platform for people to show solidarity with your cause and make donations to you. Filming a documentary is not an easy task and you cannot do it alone. Luckily, the filmmaker Magalí Baza (the lawyer’s sister) joined the project and now they are trying to summon the rest of the 65 people -between actors and technicians- they need to complete the staff and start filming on January 10.
While during the day she is in charge of shopping, kneading and baking the chipá, in the afternoons she goes out to deliver the orders she receives on her social networks and at night she unleashes creativity to outline the last details of her film production. “I have to direct as I have never done before since it is my last chance to recover my life, that life for which I fought so hard and today brought me here. I will never lower my arms and I will fight her to the end ”, Maxi said with firmness and conviction.
The chipero knows that he must maintain good behavior and not commit infractions in order not to be deported. “Unlike Nigerian vendors who throw a blanket in front of the Eiffel Tower, I stay near the Senna and if I see that the police are approaching I throw the tray with merchandise into the river so as not to have problems ”, Maxi said, who sells half a dozen chipá for 5 euros and usually collects about 600 euros per month.
According to his estimates, the film will take him three months, two for filming and one for post-production. He is confident of finishing it in April for presentation at the Cannes Film Festival.“This film is made yes or yes, there is no going back because I have no alternative. I need a visa to regain my legal status because as I am now, no film studio is going to hire me and my dream is that Warner Bros. approves my film about Malvinas veterans, which requires a budget of 28 million euros for its production. ”, the “chipero de Paris” was hoped.
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