Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán

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Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran
Roberto Durán.

Panama’s aspiration to establish a movie industry has been given a serious boost since a Hollywood-style film with a homegrown theme is to be made here about Panama’s legendary boxing champion, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran. The movie was scheduled to be made in Puerto Rico and the U.S.A but the Panamanian government, firstly as a matter of national pride and also to help the film industry promotion law which was passed last year, decided to “bribe” the film company with a $3 million subsidy loan if they brought the project to Panama. It is “unacceptable” to have a film about a national hero made in a foreign land, quoth Ricardo Quijano, Panama’s Minister of Commerce.

It should be an exciting movie. Duran, now 61 and devoting his energy to his restaurant, La Tasca, in Panama City’s El Cangrejo district and to television appearances and charity events, is regarded as one of the best boxers of all time, winning 104 out of 120 fights, 69 of them by knock-outs. One of his most memorable triumphs was the trouncing of Sugar Ray Leonard.

Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal
Gael García Bernal

Duran, who was born in a fishing village, sold newspapers, shined shoes, and went on to become a champion, will be played by Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal. The film, with a budget of $16 million, will be directed by Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowicz.

This will be the third major movie to be filmed in Panama. In the year 2000 Pierce Brosnan and Jamie Lee Curtis were here to film “The Tailor of Panama”. James Bond followed in 2007.

Film making will be a growth industry within the Panamanian economy according to Panama Film Commission director, Arianne Marie Benedetti. So in the future, look for “made in Panama” movies, especially one called “Hands of Stone”.