Forget the things behind and press on toward the things that lie ahead.
Cristobal Krusen(@Cristobal Krusen), an accomplished filmmaker and writer, has carved a distinctive niche in the realm of cinema with his unique storytelling abilities. With an impressive career spanning decades, Krusen has garnered acclaim for his thought-provoking narratives and visually striking films. His recent project, “Let Me Have My Son,” is a testament to his ability to weave true stories with the art of cinema that resonate deeply with audiences. A master of his craft, he continues to captivate viewers with his compelling commitment to creating visually beautiful and impactful cinema.
“I had this desire to know if there was something more than just the physical reality.“
Screenwriting: Screenwriting is considered a distinct art form, demanding creativity, storytelling, and a deep understanding of how the words will become images. While there are established guidelines for writing screenplays, experienced writers often break the rules to express their artistic eye and engage audiences visually, emotionally, and viscerally.
Being Born Again: The journey from a state of agnosticism to a spiritual awakening, described as being “born again,” offers a fresh perspective on life, relationships, and personal growth. This spiritual rebirth includes a new outlook on dreams, experiences, and relationships, perceived with different eyes and orientations. Faith is significant for forgiveness towards oneself and others as a powerful component of spiritual transformation, enabling individuals to move forward with newfound understanding and compassion.
Mental Health Awareness & Challenges: Krusen’s recent semi-autobiographical film, “Let Me Have My Son,” is a powerful look at how art can be used to raise awareness regarding global issues like mental health struggles. Mental health issues need to be addressed and destigmatized for the sake of humanity on a worldwide scale. The impact of mental health on the homeless, family, and other institutions is glaring as we transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Nice to meet you. By the way, sir.
Cristobal Krusen 0:06
Thank you very much. Likewise.
Mark Divine 0:08
I’m excited to have this conversation. You know, what I’d really like to start with though, is kind of like, a little bit of your origin story, like, where are you from? And what were the early influences parents, or peers or, you know, just your own insights that kind of sets a major trajectory for your in your life?
Cristobal Krusen 0:27
Well, I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and Tampa, I still think of Tampa as my homeland. But at the age of 15, I left Tampa, to go to a boarding school up in the Northeast. And I had never seen snow before…
Mark Divine 0:45
parents wanted to get you out of town.
Cristobal Krusen 0:48
Well, I think, honestly, my mother had aspirations for all her children, all four children. So I had an older brother who had preceded me to the same boarding school. But you asked about those early influences. And I attribute so much value to my grandmother, my mother’s mother, in particular. She was a widow, who lived in a small house, not too far from our home. And I just loved her quiet kind of lady. But I’d love to visit her. There were four children in the family. And I think maybe she kind of favored me a little bit. Maybe I’m romanticizing that, but we certainly got along well, I just loved her, and she was a wonderful influence on my life. Sadly, she passed away when I was 11. And for many, many years after that, in my late teens, my 20s, when I hit a really low spot in life, or some terrible obstacle or great disappointment, I found myself thinking of her, even calling on her name. She was just a wonderful influence in my life.
Mark Divine 1:59
That’s really sweet. I mean, it’s quite possible that she was there for you.
Cristobal Krusen 2:03
Yeah, I think so. So Tampa formed me, I was born in the 1950s. So that clues into the era in which I grew up, the 60s, of course, was a time of great tumult in the country. And I was up in the Northeast, and that marked a whole new chapter in my life.
Mark Divine 2:24
I read that you were really interested in in literature at a young age. So what was it that kind of got you interested in English literature? Did you have a voracious appetite for reading? Or what was it that kind of led you there?
Cristobal Krusen 2:36
Yeah, it was the stories, you know, the stories in these classics, in particular, and in fourth grade, but I think was the fourth grade, it could have been the third grade. I was kind of sickly, sickly child, and I had to be home a lot, you know, not in school. And in those days, we had many fewer diversions and distractions.
Mark Divine 2:58
Yes, we did.
Cristobal Krusen 3:00
So reading was my escape. And also, I must say, the comic book version of some of these classics that I read in the first and second grade, like I remember, in particular, the Count of Monte Cristo, which is just a rousing adventure, tale, right? And had me completely engrossed. As I got older, I realized, oh, this is a novel. You know, it’s not just a comic book. And so I really began reading the novels and I was fortunate to go to a private school, a parochial school there in Tampa, St. John’s parish day school. And the headmaster, who was Canadian, was very, very strict, very strict, and very demanding. And he had us reading. The one I remember in particular is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, when I was nine years old, not an abridged version, or a dumbed down version, but the original. So I give him credit for that influence as well.
Mark Divine 4:07
And that’s pretty powerful. I think I was reading The Hardy Boys about that age.
Cristobal Krusen 4:10
I was reading The Hardy Boys too.
Mark Divine 4:12
You were reading classic texts.
Cristobal Krusen 4:13
Yeah, no, I, I love the Hardy’s.
Mark Divine 4:16
Cristobal Krusen 4:17
But it was always seemed to be centered around story. And then as I grew up, I kind of tried my own hand and writing stories. And eventually that led into filmmaking.
Mark Divine 4:28
So you went to Harvard undergrad with this idea of getting into lit and you decided along the way that you wanted to try to shift toward the arts and filmmaking. So was that a hard decision? I mean, seems like all the work to get into Harvard, it’d be hard to bounce from there. To my alma mater, which is NYU also, for graduate school.
Cristobal Krusen 4:46
Okay, cool. Well, you asked me, was it a hard decision? It was actually more of a stupid choice. Because I could have finished it at Harvard. I entered as a sophomore, so I’d already knocked out the first year. But, you know, I lacked not to not to shift blame to anybody, because there’s really nobody I would name but I did lack direction, I think and I was rash, you know, and making that decision, it wasn’t really necessary. I could have stayed at Harvard. And it was just another two years. But, you know, what’s that saying youth is wasted on the young. I just didn’t have the maturity to see deeply enough that hey, look at finish your degree here at Harvard, and then studying film at a postgraduate level, that just didn’t occur to me. So I was very intemperarant, wanting to move ahead. I do regret that decision.
Mark Divine 5:47
Yeah, well sometimes you know, those are powerful because we learn from them. Maybe there was some other point in your life where you said, You know what, I need to just finish what I started here.
Cristobal Krusen 5:56
You’re absolutely right. No life experience should ever be wasted.
Mark Divine 5:59
No, I agree.
Cristobal Krusen 6:00
Because the failures in life, quote, unquote, are great teaching experiences. So yes.
Mark Divine 6:08
So where was it that you really started to find your passion, your groove as a screenwriter and, you know, producer, or director? I don’t know, do you do both production and direction?
Cristobal Krusen 6:20
I do both. I’m known as a writer-director.
Mark Divine 6:22
Writer, director. Okay.
Cristobal Krusen 6:23
Well, funny enough, it did sort of spark at Harvard. That year, I was there. There was a group on campus. And I couldn’t tell you the name of them at this point. But they would show the classics of cinema. They had like film retrospectives, they would call it. And you see a flyer on the bulletin board. And I said, that looks interesting. And I remember going to I believe it was Adams House, there in the yard there Harvard, they had this beautiful library with as I recall, you know, the bookshelves went way up high and the nice, big, comfortable chairs and somebody had set up a 16 millimeter projector we’re talking 1972. You know, 1972, 71 could have been. There was an old VCR, many. But they had gotten a hold of 16 millimeter prints. And I remember watching several Russian classics, Italian Classics, French films, Swedish, a lot of foreign films.
And I was kind of transfixed by it all. I had never seen movies like that in my whole life. And I was deeply impressed. In the year prior to going to Harvard. I had taken a year off after high school. I spent that year in Australia, which also influenced me because I was 10 months in Australia, thinking that I would become a photojournalist. Because I love to write, I was good at writing. And I got interested in photography, as well. So I just thought, well, you know, that’s a career choice photojournalism. But filmmaking came in like a wave and just kind of swept me away. I just became so enamored with it all. And then I thought, Well, where can I go to film school? And that’s how I ended up eventually at NYU.
Mark Divine 8:18
It seems to me even though that whole industry was still in its early stages, wasn’t it? I mean, how big was the writing Hollywood kind of film production industry in this late 60s and early 70s? I mean, compared to today, it was just a speck.
Cristobal Krusen 8:34
Yeah. The Indie filmmaking scene, you know, is at a very early stage at that point for the United States, with exceptions, of course, but you had Francis Ford Coppola, as one, Terrence Malick, another, George Lucas, and several others. They intended to go through the USC film school, Martin Scorsese, he went to NYU, or he taught at NYU. So they were definitely there in place. But you’re right, it was it was early on. And by no means had I figured it all out. Not at all. But at NYU, I did think okay, this can be the stepping stone to bigger and better things. My college advisor there was Hage Manoogian, who was Martin Scorsese’s advisor.
Mark Divine 9:28
Cristobal Krusen 9:29
I thought, well, I’m pretty close to this, you know, and my screenwriting teacher was a man named Robert Allen Arthur, who has passed away but he produced Cabaret back in the day. He was a great screenwriter. He taught me how to write screenplays. So there were a lot of good things that happened to me at NYU.
Mark Divine 9:48
That’s amazing. So can you just kind of walk us through what it takes to write a screenplay? I mean, I’ve written a few books and I know people listening. Many have probably written books, but what’s different between writing like a book in a screenplay.
Cristobal Krusen 10:01
I think the first and most important thing to understand is that a book is tantamount to the final product.
Mark Divine 10:11
Cristobal Krusen 10:11
A screenplay is a step in the process to a final product.
Mark Divine 10:17
Cristobal Krusen 10:17
So if we compare making a film to building a house, let’s say the architectural blueprint is not the house. But it shows everybody interested, what the house is going to look like. So, while screenplays are not the final product, no movie, this is my opinion. But I think this is born out by many people who would agree, no movie ever rises above the screenplay. Meaning, if you don’t have a good screenplay, you’re probably not going to have a good film. And if you do have a good screenplay, you might have all kinds of resistance and problems, and whatnot. But if you hold fast hold true to to the plan, the design, it’s a design this screenplays are designed to hold fast and that chances are, you’re going to have a nice long, when it’s all said and done. There’s an art to writing a screenplay. But writing a book is a different animal.
Mark Divine 11:19
So does the screenplay have like a formulaic arc to it like the hero’s journey? Are there more than one arcs that a screenplay can have?
Cristobal Krusen 11:28
Well, you mentioned that and that’s for I’m a kind of a contrarian, I suppose. But I do resist the notion that, that you have to follow these rules. I mean, they’re, they’re, you can buy a book on how to write a screenplay, and they’ll give you rules. You know, there’s that saying, when you really have experience, you can bend the rules or break the rules. But as you’re learning, you need to follow the rules to learn.
Mark Divine 12:00
Right. That makes sense.
Cristobal Krusen 12:01
I’ve always sort of maintained that if your film is just a formulaic creation, you’re gonna have a kind of formulaic film.
Mark Divine 12:09
Right. You see that with all the blockbusters that they’re trying to produce today, it’s just the same, literally the same story with different characters just repeated over and over.
Cristobal Krusen 12:17
Yes, exactly. Yeah.
Mark Divine 12:20
It’s almost like crack. It’s just exciting for the short hit, and everyone moves on and forgets at a moment later, I can see that breaking the rules is adding an element, you know, it adds that element of surprise. It’s like the third body problem, right? You have something expected and then all of a sudden, breaking the rules is bringing something completely unexpected into the into the story. So what’s your like, how would you characterize your style? Or like your genre? Do you have a style or genre or?
Cristobal Krusen 12:47
Well, I do gravitate towards drama. I’m an indie filmmaker, at heart. I would like to be, you know, bankrolled by Hollywood, well, maybe I wouldn’t want to be bankrolled…
Mark Divine 13:02
Cristobal Krusen 13:02
Mark Divine 13:03
Be controlled by Hollywood.
Cristobal Krusen 13:05
Mark Divine 13:06
Be careful what you ask for.
Cristobal Krusen 13:06
Yeah, that’s right. But I’m drawn to drama. My track record shows that I’ve often taken true stories, and dramatize them.
Mark Divine 13:15
Cristobal Krusen 13:15
I have to say, I’ve kind of over the years, just kind of fallen into that more than set out to do that from the beginning. But there is great power, I believe, in working from a true story. And of course, we’ve all seen those movies that have the little clip at the end of the real character, the real life characters.
Mark Divine 13:38
Cristobal Krusen 13:39
And that’s kind of an area that I like to work in, but I also enjoy, for lack of a better word, I’ll just say surrealism.
Mark Divine 13:46
Cristobal Krusen 13:47
Federico Fellini, some of his movies, those Italian directors, been dead many years now, Ingmar Bergman, some of his films, making I think film is it’s certainly an art form. It’s a newer art form. And I think we’re constantly learning how to use it to express ourselves. Like the Impressionist painters, did, you know, in the late 1800s, in Europe, they were met with great hostility at the beginning. And now we looked at their paintings. That’s not the case anymore. So I do long to experiment, as well. But within a story, again, going back to what you had asked me earlier, I was talking about how I’ve always been drawn to story.
Mark Divine 14:36
So what is the most challenging movie that you’ve produced? Where maybe you just thought it wasn’t going to work out and then it did somehow?
Cristobal Krusen 14:45
That I’ve actually made or that I have written and wanted?
Mark Divine 14:49
Well, I guess you could tell either, you know, I’m just more interested in like, the struggle like you know, because it’s easy to think that it’s all gravy when you have these some big successes. But, I mean, there’s nonstop struggle along the way I imagined.
Cristobal Krusen 15:03
Yeah, no, you’re right. Well, I could point to my very first movie, which I made in Mexico on a shoestring budget. I mean, it was ridiculously low budget kind of like, I think, Robert Rodriguez made the Mariachi Man for $25,000.
Mark Divine 15:20
Is that right?
Cristobal Krusen 15:20
I fall into that category. I mean, that was a struggle from every vantage point. But we got it finished. I think the movie that fits that description, well, I can think of two. One is Final Solution, which I made in South Africa. We filmed in the year 2000. And I had been working on the screenplay and some fundraising for that film, going back to 1988.
Mark Divine 15:49
Holy cow. What was the film about, just refresh my memory? I remember seeing it.
Cristobal Krusen 15:53
Yeah, based on a true story of an Afrikaner, a white South African, who was essentially a white supremacist. He was a bit of a thug, frankly. But he was a very intelligent guy and very charismatic and had his following. Eventually, he became an attorney. But early on, he was more a thug who would beat up people, you know, he and his friends would go into the townships this would have been in the 1960s, setting houses on fire and beating up people. He didn’t probably tell me everything he did, but he was, he was not a good guy. In those years, he actually had formulated. This is where the title of the movie comes from. He had mapped out a plan that he called his final solution for the blacks of South Africa, which was essentially to round the black people up into the townships where they already were in the name. And essentially liquidate there was a genocidal plan.
Mark Divine 16:56
Cristobal Krusen 16:57
That met with some acceptance on the part of the military establishment in South Africa. Now, this was in the 1960s that this was happening. He never did it. But that just shows you his kind of person.
Mark Divine 17:09
How did he find Christianity? What was the turning point for him?
Cristobal Krusen 17:14
Well, one thing was his wife, who in fact, was the daughter of a military man, himself, but not of that ilk. You know, didn’t believe in anything like that. And also from a book called Cry; The Beloved Country by Alan Paine, which is a wonderful book, I would highly recommend as you if you haven’t read it, or anybody listening. It’s a wonderful, wonderful book. It’s been made into a movie several times. Once with James Earl Jones. Another time was Sidney Poitier. Called, Cry; The Beloved Country. And he read this book, which he considered propaganda and lies, but his girlfriend who became his wife said, read it, you think you know everything they met at the university, read it, and see if your ideas actually hold up in the marketplace of ideas. Because he likes her. He’s said okay, I’ll read it. And he was overcome by the book. But no, to me, this is so important because his heart I really think all along was a tender heart. But for whatever reason, he had just become so filled with hatred. But this book, served as the lancet, you know, the puncture, that awful casing around his heart, to bring out the beauty. And that really, a single book…
Mark Divine 18:34
That’s amazing, the power of words.
Cristobal Krusen 18:36
Mark Divine 18:36
That is infused with all this spiritual energy. That’s so cool.
Cristobal Krusen 18:40
It reoriented him and he met some Christian people here and there as well. But it was that book that primarily got him on that path. And then in our movie, we see how he reaches out to a young black man that he had one time, beaten up, you know, within an inch of his life. And he realizes what he had done, so he asked forgiveness.
Your question had to do with difficulty. And it took me 12 years to shoot the film. And then it took a few years to edit the film. And then the distributor, I think basically stole from it, financially.
Mark Divine 19:18
Cristobal Krusen 19:19
And, so a lot of horror stories. But you can still watch that film on Amazon, if you want to, just put in, Final Solution. There may be other films as well. Our movie come up under my name. Yeah. And then my most recent film called, Let Me Have My Son, has been very, very challenging, very difficult. I’ve never had enough money to make this film, its semi autobiographical. So it tells the story of mine, my oldest child who developed schizophrenia as a teenager, and it was a severe, severe case. He has had to be institutionalized for many years. He’s doing better now and soon to be discharged. So we’re very thankful for that. But I wanted to make a movie that would celebrate his life. I think that when we share a story like this, I mean, in my case, I said, well, this is my story. And this kind of gives you an idea of how we have walked this very difficult walk as a family, that it can encourage other people. So…
Mark Divine 20:31
Cristobal Krusen 20:32
And I’ve seen that we’ve only released the film, it’s only been out for three months, but we’ve been getting feedback, good feedback from…
Mark Divine 20:40
I can imagine, I mean, mental health, you know is, just kind of like the elephant in the room in the Western world, you know, I think it’s just far greater than anyone’s willing to admit, you know, and a large part of the homeless population is really mental health issues. And it just, it got exacerbated and magnified because of COVID, and the isolation and the fear. So I think it’s amazing, and probably the transformation that you had to go through to write this story, you know, in honor of not just your son, but the whole family system that was trying to support him back to health. People need to hear that, especially since there’s so much negativity in the world, you know. So thank you for doing that. I want to come back to that. But you talked about a transformation of this South African guy by finding kind of Christianity, and I noted in your bio, that you had a similar situation. Can we talk about that a bit?
Cristobal Krusen 21:36
Yeah, I did. I mentioned my grandmother to you at the outset, who was so dear to me. She was a Catholic woman, devout, my father’s family were Protestant. But I knew as a child, my grandmother, I understood as a child without being told that she had a very special connection to God. I’ll put it that way. And I don’t think that ever really left me. And I remember when I was 12 years old, she had died when I was 11. And I knelt down in my house there in Tampa, and I said a prayer. And I said, God, let me help people. That was my prayer. I want to be someone who helps other people. When I went off to the boarding school up north, and you know, like, from the age of 16 to 25 or so I went to go live in New York City. Eventually, I became almost an anarchist, I could say, an annihilist, existentialist, agnostic.
Mark Divine 22:38
It’s pretty common for young, you know, college aged kids in the 60s and 70s. Right, you were in good company.
Cristobal Krusen 22:46
I was in good company. Well, all my friends were that way.
Mark Divine 22:50
I know, right.
Cristobal Krusen 22:52
So I guess all my friends were similar. But you know, I was in my mid 20s, maybe 26-27, perhaps no older than 27 then. And living in New York, and I was in Manhattan. And I was reading an article in The Village Voice newspaper, talking about this Swami, the Hindu holy man, Swami Muktananda, if I remember his name.
Mark Divine 23:16
Yeah, I am familiar with him.
Cristobal Krusen 23:18
And how he was in the Greenwich square, having kind of a rally there. And people, I didn’t go, I was just reading about it, and how he would touch people with his peacock feathers, he had a peacock feather, and crown you on the head with his peacock feather and give you his blessing, I suppose. So many people were touched in a positive way. And I’m sitting on the floor of my apartment in Manhattan there, and I just burst into tears. And that prayer I had made as a 12 year old came flooding back into my soul. And my prayer was God, let me help you. But I wasn’t praying the prayer. I was crying out saying, why am I not helping people?
I felt like I had not done anything. Absolutely nothing at all that time to help anybody really. I mean, maybe I was wrong. But that’s how I felt. That I had not done anything to help. And sort of along the same time of that experience, maybe the year before I had been reading books about spirituality, religion, I was reading, well, I read the Bhagavad Gita, for example. I read books by Edgar Casey dealing with metaphysics. I was studying Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and in my own way, practicing meditation.
I mean, it wasn’t in a group, but just reading trying to do it. I had this desire to know if there was something more than just the physical reality. I mean, I could touch my hand I could. I had a body, but is that all there is? That was my big question. Are we just molecules ,you know, are we just something physical, and that’s it. And I just had to find an answer, I had to find an answer. And when I read that, about the Swami there, it just got me looking deeper and deeper and deeper. And I made a trip to Australia, where I was writing the screenplay, and turned out to be who he was based on a true story. And it turned out that the main character of the story I discovered who, by the way, was a Ukrainian immigrant to Australia, it turned out in my research there in Australia that he had been a Christian. And that that explains so much of his behavior, because he was like a holy man, which is why I was so drawn to him. But then I discovered that his holiness came from being a Christian. So I went out and bought a Bible. And I started to read the Bible. Because I was told, in fact that he had a Bible,eye witnesses, I spoke to people who had known this guy, the drama of his story occurred in the 50s 1950s. So I was there after the fact, I never got to meet him in person. But he inspired me to begin reading the Bible. And when I read the Sermon on the Mount, in particular, I was absolutely transfixed. I was overcome I guess you could say. Because, again, I had been searching consciously for truth, if there was a big if there is no truth, but if truth could be found, I wanted to know if and when I read the Sermon on the Mount, to me, that was the answer. So I marked that as the beginning. I can’t say I became a Christian right then. But at that point, I was 28 years old, in Australia, reading the Sermon on the Mount. And within a year, I had become a born again Christian. I went back to New York, started going to church.
Mark Divine 26:55
What does that mean to you? Born again Christian. And I love that phrase, that phrase of being twice born, or, you know, an idea of an awakening experience, where you suddenly awakened to greater totality of your existence. I mean, there’s a lot of every tribe in every religion has a version of this. So what does that mean to you, born again Christian?
Cristobal Krusen 27:17
Yeah, I must tell you, I had never heard of the term myself. Until I was working at a health food store there in Manhattan after I’d come back from Australia, I carried around this pocket, New Testament, and somebody said, Are you born again, to me. And I said, what is that? I didn’t know what it meant. And of course, Jimmy Carter, the President Carter, he famously said that he had been born again, but I can tell you what it means to me. What it means to me, now. And back then too, I learned that in the Gospel of John, chapter three, Jesus says, to Nicodemus, you must be born again, you must be born again. And then Nicodemus said, What do you mean, I can’t go back in my mother’s womb and be born. He says, no, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a spiritual rebirth. So for me, being born again, means almost you could say, having a second chance, I’d like to think of it that way. Where I won’t say you get to live life over again. But you get to live what remains of your life from that time forward, with a different set of eyes with a different perspective. With a different orientation, to everything, to life, to dreams. By dreams, I mean, when you sleep, and you have dreams, just everything. People you know, places you go, nature, just everything is perceived uh, different. That’s how.
Mark Divine 28:51
I like that’s a good description, and also your relationship to your past. You know, you can have forgiveness towards yourself, and anyone else who might have hurt you or wronged you. And that’s powerful to release a lot of that energy.
Cristobal Krusen 29:04
Thank you for saying that. Because I’ll just be frank with you of late. I’ve been struggling with that exact thing personally, where I’m still trying to get over some things that I’ve done in the past, you know, but I’m reminded that the apostle Paul, he had a troubled past. And he said, but you know, what, I’m not going to focus on I’m not going to live in that. I’m going to forget the things that are behind and I’m going to press on toward the things that lie ahead. And forgetting what is behind, it doesn’t mean that you just sort of like the monkey so that we can’t hear anything it does. Not that you know, things happen that you may regret, or you did things that you may regret, but you’re gonna let them go. And like you say that, you know, forgive yourself. If God has forgiven you, who are you to hold on to unforgiveness right? We need to forgive ourselves too.
Mark Divine 29:59
My favorite quote, I often say to my folks is, ego is resistance to what is. And what is, is. Everything is God-Source.
Cristobal Krusen 30:10
Mark Divine 30:11
And we get to play our little part. And our ego wants to take responsibility for everything as if it were Master of the Universe. And then when things don’t quite go according to plan, we beat the shit out of ourselves. That’s not fair.
Cristobal Krusen 30:27
Mark Divine 30:28
Give ourselves a break. That’s awesome. So I want to come back the title, um, is so powerful, Let Me Have My Son, as sounds like a cry for help to Jesus or to God.
Cristobal Krusen 30:39
you’re right. A cry is literally true to life, in the sense that with Daniel, his name is Daniel and he was first institutionalized at the age of 18. After five years, I mean, I was watching my son, who was a great athlete, by the way, this beautiful young man just had so much potential, and here he was locked up in a mental hospital.
Mark Divine 31:02
Can I just ask, was there any kind of like triggering thing? I had a friend whose son went schizophrenic. And it happened after one incident with drugs just triggered something in was there anything like that?
Cristobal Krusen 31:16
Mark Divine 30:16
With your son?
Cristobal Krusen 31:17
Mark Divine 31:18
Cristobal Krusen 31:19
It’s a host of factors here, probably because he did experiment with drugs, that’s one. There was also, there is, a history of mental illness on both sides of his mother’s side, my side, I’ve been told by psychiatrists, he likely has a genetic predisposition that the drug…
Mark Divine 31:39
Yeah, that got, switched on.
Cristobal Krusen 31:42
Triggered, and there was some trauma in the home. Traumas, never a good thing, and can often lead to a flashpoint with mental illness. Yeah, but when he was in the hospital, they were giving him different kinds of medication, and nothing was really, they didn’t really quite know what to do. And I could tell, in fact, one of the doctors told me, he’ll likely be here the rest of his life. I couldn’t accept that on any level. That’s when I began just saying, Let me have my son. Because I felt that if I could get him at home, and probably wishful thinking, I’ll admit, but if I could have him home, he’ll do better.
Mark Divine 32:25
Cristobal Krusen 32:25
I became his legal guardian. And I forced the hospitals hand, I said, you have to give me my son, let me have my son, because we’re moving to Mexico. And I had lived in Mexico before and spoke the language. My other kids were on board with it. I was going through a divorce at the time. So it was sort of me and my, my kids. And we went to Mexico. And I got my son, let me have my son. And we depict that in the movie, what happened in Mexico? And it did not answer all the problems, if you will. But on the positive side, I will always be thankful for Mexico, because that time we had there as a family overall, was absolutely beautiful. And I had my son at home. And he did better, but that’s not the end of the story. He also had a relapse. But for a time he did..
Mark Divine 33:24
Cristobal Krusen 33:24
Mark Divine 33:25
Was your son, I mean, when it comes to like spiritual healing, how much of his recovery do you think was just like your energy bringing just the energy of love or God that you would consider to be spiritual energy? And was he attuned to that?
Cristobal Krusen 33:41
Mark Divine 33:42
What’s your perspective on that?
Cristobal Krusen 33:43
Now, that’s a great question. And he is attuned to that, very much so. The power of love. We hear that said, you know, bandied about, it’s real. I know it’s real. I’ve seen it, an operation with my son, in particular. And he is very, very open to spirituality, to Christianity, to love. I mean, he’s about to get out of the hospital. But right now, he’s at a distance. So I don’t see him that frequently. But whenever we talk on the phone, which is almost daily, we often pray, together, and he will pray for me. And when I was making the film, I’d pray for him and he say, let me pray for you that just beautiful prayers. My son is very, very attuned to other people. And he loves people. He really genuinely loves people. He, he’s interested in them, and he wants to be connected to them, which is why it’s so painful when he’s separated by an institution…
Mark Divine 34:52
Cristobal Krusen 34:53
…from other people, even his own family. So we’re really looking forward. I’m looking forward to seeing him, kind of bloom. In the coming years, I have a lot of friends who are just waiting to visit him, he’ll be in a group home. So it’ll be a totally different situation where people can come and go and meet him, and…
Mark Divine 35:15
What does recovery look like, first of all? I mean, what does recovery look like for him?
Cristobal Krusen 35:20
For him, if we’re just frank, you know, he’ll neve,r he’s 40 years old now. He’s not going to be the professional athlete that I thought he might have been at one point. He’s diminished. There’s no question. He’s diminished. The medications, there are side effects of these medications. His hands will quiver, the depending on when you’re talking to him. And when he’s taken medication his speech may be slurred. But recovery is him feeling loved, experiencing love from others, and then giving love. And maybe that sounds highfalutin. But I mean, in the real world kind of thing.
Mark Divine 36:02
No, I love that.
Cristobal Krusen 36:03
That’s what recovery looks like.
Mark Divine 36:05
That’s awesome. Now we’ve got to wrap up here. So the movies out. Did you write the book first?
Cristobal Krusen 36:11
Mark Divine 36:12
Like the screenplay?
Cristobal Krusen 36:13
Yeah, well, I wrote the book first. The book is not a novel. However, just so that you understand. It’s more a collection of letters that were written over the years, asking people to pray for my son, telling the story along the way. But it was written before the movie was. And the movie is streaming on Amazon, Amazon Prime, or you can go to our website, let me have my son.com, that has all the information about how to watch the film too.
Mark Divine 36:45
What’s next for you, Cristobal?
Cristobal Krusen 36:48
Wow, well, I have four grandchildren nearby, and I just visited two others out of New Jersey. I have remarried, my wife is a lovely person, a great support to me. So, but I do want to make more films. You know, I’m getting up there in years. And I’m not an ex Navy SEAL. So I’m in pretty good shape in terms of not limping around. I have ink in the well here. You know, I think there’s more I can do.
Mark Divine 37:16
I sure do. Ink in the well, I love that. And you can replenish that ink supply anytime. That’s awesome. All right, sir. Well, thank you so much.
Cristobal Krusen 37:25
Thank you for having me.
Mark Divine 37:28
Yeah, it’s been a pleasure. I really appreciate it and best to your son. Thank you, honesty, like we send him our love.
Cristobal Krusen 37:33
Transcribed by https://otter.ai