“A Day in the Life” with writer and director Arturo Pérez Torres

I met Arturo Pérez Torres in a bar called Not My Dog, one of those hole in the wall places that must’ve been built on a spiritual vortex as only the best people were drawn there, making music and friends to the wee hours of the morning.

He was so attractive I could barely hold up my end of the conversation.

Arturo had been in Canada for five years, living in Amsterdam, various U.S. States and France since leaving his home of Mexico City at eighteen.

He had three documentaries to his credit: Wetback, Super Amigos and City Idol, which I watched with a mix of amazement and intimidation. He has the knack for guiding a story without placing himself inside it. He’s a gentle storyteller.

I met his (then) five-year-old daughter Saylor eating pistachio ice cream and that cemented my desire to be with him seriously.

Arturo was building a beautiful house in Mexico. Oh, he’s a hot film maker AND an architect? Coolcoolcool.

We first partnered together on filming my dad during one of his hyper manic episodes. My dad reveled in the attention and I welcomed the focus. Arturo held the camera so non-intrusively he was almost invisible. We guerrilla style snuck the camera into the emergency psych ward. Arturo is not scared of things.

He bought a house in Toronto that was listed as “for contractors only, not a fixer upper”. The place was condemned. The hardwood floors had become leopard prints from squatters’ cigarette butts. The windows were boarded up. There was a hole from ceiling to basement from water damage. Arturo was not intimidated, confident this property was his ticket to staying in the Toronto housing market. I would leave in the morning and there’d be a balcony built by the time I’d come home in the afternoon. Ten months later we moved in.

Then he made a baby boy with me. Huxley.

Then he made Las Áquilas Humanas, a doc about a four person, one raccoon and an ostrich circus in Guatemala.

Then he transformed the garage into a beautiful studio office/apartment.

Then he made another doc in Uruguay about the legalization of marijuana.

Then he made the two apartments in the house into one home to accommodate our growing family.

Then he and I made our first feature, The Drawer Boy.

Then he bought land on the coast of Mexico, excavated it, and began designing and building another palace there.

He doesn’t stop but still knows how to relax. Works hard, plays hard. Arturo has clear goals, and attains them. Seems like a pretty simple mandate to life, but for me, it’s been revolutionary, the idea that you can actually attain goals, as long as they are clearly defined, and “not possible” doesn’t exist in your vocabulary.

-Written by Aviva Armour-Ostroff

Arturo Pérez Torres
Me and my daughter Saylor, riding around the neighbourhood in Parkdale, Toronto.
Arturo Pérez Torres
Finishing a deck on my house in Parkdale, Toronto
Directing Jakob Ehman on the set of The Drawer Boy in Blyth, Ontario.
Directing Jakob Ehman on the set of The Drawer Boy in Blyth, Ontario.
Testing the door at my still-under-construction house in Mazunte, Mexico.
Testing the door at my still-under-construction house in Mazunte, Mexico.
Me and my kids, Huxley and Saylor.
Me and my kids, Huxley and Saylor.
My partner Aviva and I doing a Q&A for Drawer Boy at the Heartland Festival in Indiana.
My partner Aviva and I doing a Q&A for Drawer Boy at the Heartland Festival in Indiana.
Me as husky: pulling Aviva and Huxley through the Toronto snow.
Me as husky: pulling Aviva and Huxley through the Toronto snow.
Aviva and I receiving an award for The Drawer Boy.
Aviva and I receiving an award for The Drawer Boy.

What ‘hood are you in?

For the last 12 years I’ve lived in Parkdale: one of the most multi-cultural neighborhoods in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. I love bragging about this piece of trivia every chance I get.

I live with my partner Aviva Armour-Ostroff, my two kids Saylor and Huxley, and Alice the cat.

What do you do?

I am a documentary filmmaker who recently crossed the line to narrative filmmaking. I also read, write (words and songs), do graphic design, and love working with my hands mostly as a builder and as a cook. I have designed and built three houses.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on my TV series where real news triggers fake stories.

And I am finishing building a house in Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Where can we find your work?

My last film, The Drawer Boy can be found on Highball.TV

My documentaries can be found on Vimeo on Demand under Open City Works.

 

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1632 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography