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A story based on the lives of real people
 The filmmakers wanted the film to have an authentic feel. Instead of using professional actors to play the parts, they felt the next best thing to reality was having a person playing himself. For example, the police officers, gang members, prostitutes, cockfighters, and most importantly, Pablito, are the same people in the film as in reality. They brought their own personality, their own words, inside the framework of the story.
 
When the production time came, a few of the cast members had mysteriously disappeared – at a time when many people were being kidnapped and murdered – and the filmmakers had to reconsider their storyline. The filmmakers decided to base the story directly on the strong bond between Pablo and his son, Pablito.

Having the actual character move and speak as themselves added a subtlety and honesty to the performance that would have been otherwise difficult to find in an actor. The fusion between fiction and reality was a powerful one in which the actors played a huge role in the creative process, bringing their individuality to the forefront, and placing this film in a genre of its own.