When news of Sodeto winning a big slice of El Gordo — the fattest lottery on earth — reached this tiny Spanish town of 250 people, Greek filmmaker Costis Mitsotakis was asleep, but not for long.
“I started hearing lots of noise, lots of movement so I grabbed the camera,” Mitsotakis said, remembering the morning of December 22, 2011.
Unlike every other household in Sodeto — seventy to be precise — Mitsotakis did not buy a “participation,” a slice of the winning ticket. The local housewives association had gone door-to-door selling them, but forgot to knock on his.
It didn’t matter to him. Costis wanted to immortalize this unprecedented moment in Sodeto’s history. With camera in hand, he headed to the town’s square and began rolling.
What he captured may be the perfect portrait of pure ecstasy.
“Chaos was broken loose everywhere. Champagne. People were dancing, screaming,” he said.
For this agricultural town where drought and economic woes have bitten hard, last year’s lottery drawing was certainly an unexpected Christmas present, a true blessing. Each of the households got at least $130,000.
After the initial frenzy, there was something else that caught Mitsotakis’ attention, but did not surprise him.
People were “pretty calm,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to see crazy stuff. A few cars, but that’s it. ”
In these parts, people are more interested in new tractors, paying for irrigation systems and paying off mortgages.
This is the spirit that Mitsotakis hopes a film he has in the works will embody. It will be a movie-documentary combo, with residents acting based on true events coupled with interviews on what the future holds for this lucky village.
Money is known to change people, often not for the better, but it seems here in Sodeto residents are determined to continue to enjoy life as always.
“People are as they were before,” said Mitsotakis. “Happier,” he added with a smile.