Interview with Graham Riettener

The Brain Behind “Dare to Dream: A Story from El Salvador”

Graham Rittener is a full-time Bitcoiner and documentary producer with a background of around 20 years in growing businesses in the fields of design, technology, and innovation. At the end of 2019, he closed down his last company, ZINC, a boutique consulting firm he co-founded, and began working with clients globally to design and develop new products and services across both hardware and software. Last year, he released his first cinematic project, a deep and thought-provoking story of a tiny but courageous community brought to the silver screen.

🎤 BFF: Once you said that making such a film was just a dream, at least in the beginning, what made you want to turn it into reality?

💬 Graham: I’ve always been a fanatic of great documentaries, probably something to do with an insatiable curiosity that’s influenced my life for as long as I can remember. For a number of years, I had been thinking that one day I might try and make a documentary. I visited El Zonte in July 2021, just after President Bukele’s announcement that El Salvador would be making bitcoin legal tender. I didn’t go there with the sole intention of making a documentary, but rather just to find out more about this fascinating story of Bitcoin Beach. As I learned more about El Salvador’s history, I became convinced that this was the story that needed to be shared with the world through film. I also felt that Bitcoin had been good to me, and I wanted to give back.

🎤 BFF: What do you think sets your film apart from other longer or shorter films about Bitcoin and El Salvador?

💬 Graham: This documentary was intended to tell the human stories around bitcoin, by showcasing how bitcoin changes peoples’ lives in developing countries like Salvador where most locals were simply unbanked. There was also very little video content at the time that focused on the human side of things, talking about people and bitcoin, so I felt that this was an amazing opportunity to do that. To make such a film.

🎤 BFF: What was the biggest challenge/-s in making this documentary, and how did you overcome it?

💬 Graham: We faced two major challenges. The first was organizing the necessary logistics; as we had to get a film crew from Europe on the ground in El Salvador for a month and an additional two weeks in the US. The other big challenge was editing down so many hours of great footage into something more succinct.

🎤 BFF: Who is the target audience for this film and how do you plan to reach them?

💬 Graham: We always felt this story had the ability to connect with a more mainstream audience, not just the bitcoin plebs. In the developed world, we really hope this film will be seen by everyone that is frustrated with the fiat system but still has a negative or indifferent attitude towards bitcoin. We also hope that this will be seen by people in the ‘global south’ and inspire them to do something similar to Bitcoin Beach. With regards to the first group, it was for that reason I decided to go down a traditional distribution route. It’s actually very difficult to get an independent film distributed, so I was very happy to achieve that. With regards to the second group, it was really important that people could see the film without having access to banking, so it is available through our website to purchase with bitcoin using Lightning of course.

🎤 BFF: What do you want viewers to remember most about your film?

💬 Graham: I believe the main message is one of hope. It’s a very uplifting documentary, and it really gives a feeling of optimism and hope, something the world really needs right now! It’s also a film about courage and perseverance, that almost anything is possible if you really believe in it. It’s meant to inspire people, whoever you are and whatever you’re doing in life. Literally, dare to dream!

🎤 BFF: What is the future of bitcoin, not only in El Zonte but also in other parts of the country, and how can content like yours help it?

💬 Graham: I have no doubt bitcoin adoption will grow throughout the country, but perhaps it will be slower than we all thought. Content like mine will hopefully inspire the rest of El Salvador about the power of bitcoin. The future is very bright there.

🎤 BFF: Do you think that the past of El Salvador and “its new history being written now” could also be reflected in other countries?

💬 Graham: I think that ultimately every country will go through a major transformation because of bitcoin. That is the goal, right? Not every country will go the same way as El Salvador, but eventually, I believe the whole world will have to fall into line and adopt bitcoin in some way, otherwise they will get left behind. Who knows how long that will take? But it’s a truly fascinating time to be alive!

🎤 BFF: Thank you for this talk, Graham. We truly appreciate it.

💬 Graham: Likewise! The pleasure is mine! I guess we will still talk about a few interesting things I have in mind, in a while.

For more insights and the full conversation, check out the article “El Salvador Seen and Told Through a Camera Lens” on Love Is Bitcoin.

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January 15, 2024.