Orestes Matacena
  Directed by Marcus Nispel
The New York Museum of Modern Art has made this work part of its Permanent Collection  

ORESTES MATACENA was born in Cuba to Italian immigrants. Aracelli, Orestes' mother, was 50 years old when she noticed her stomach growing disproportionately. Everyone thought it was a tumor.  No one, much less her husband, Rafael, 53, could believe the diagnosis made at the hospital. She was carrying baby Orestes!


Orestes describes himself as a "third world country boy."  He grew up on a sugar mill plantation.  When Orestes was eight years old he dreamed of one day owning a farm. Each night, he would go to bed with a notebook figuring and planning.  How big should his farm be...?  How many cattle should he have . . . ?  How much capital would he need to run the farm . . . ? How much money was he going to make . . . ?  Orestes would keep adding and subtracting until he would fall asleep . . .

On the plantation, animals were a large part of his life.  He would break mustangs and move cattle from one town to another. At a certain point he kept an extensive variety of birds in addition to twelve dogs and twenty one cats.  However, his parents strictly forbade him to bring any of the animals inside their home.  The one exception was a cat named "Kooki," who was allowed in once in a while to roam the house.

Despite the restrictions, whenever his parents where away from home, Orestes would bring one of his horses into the house to keep him company.  While its master would watch a baseball game on television in the living room, the horse would be standing next to him eating corn out of a bucket and swatting flies with its tail.

Orestes first ventured into films at age six when some friends of the family made a movie called "The Life Of Billy The Kid," with a cast comprised totally of children.

The film-makers naturally needed horses for their western, and since Orestes had horses, he was able to wrangle a part in the movie.  Unfortunately, he had to be "killed off" early in the production because his family was going on vacation.


As a teenager Orestes belonged to the resistance movement which valiantly fought to overthrow the Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro and his despotic Communist Government in order to establish freedom and a real Democracy in the country. Orestes escaped from Cuba on an airplane and lived "ILLEGALLY" for three months in Mexico City before immigrating LEGALLY to the United States.

Arriving to the United States literally without a cent in his pocket and no understanding of the English language, Orestes settled in Titusville, Florida and immediately got a job.  He worked nine hours a day, six days a week washing dishes at a restaurant at a weekly pay of thirty dollars.  Months later, tired of washing dishes, he rose to the level of assistant cook and then to the highest level of short order cook!
After his restaurant experience, Orestes moved to Miami where he became a clothing salesman, and lastly, a car salesman.  He lived sparsely eating only one apple and half a slice of white toast every three days until he finally sold his first car one month later.
A dreamer at heart, Orestes decided it was time to start up a playhouse. His first theater was in the living room of his apartment.  The actors had to be careful not to step on the toes of the audience!  A few months went by before he found a real theater. Everyone was happy that day, especially the audience's toes!
Two years later, Orestes came to the conclusion that it was best for him to move to New York.  With only a few dollars in his pocket and knowing no one, he had no other choice but to sleep at the Port Authority bus station for a few days, but by the fourth month of his arrival, he had raised the capital for, and was producing and acting in his first Off Broadway play.
Later Orestes founded "The New York Theater Of The Americas," where he produced more than thirty original plays.  He acted in many of the productions playing a variety of roles, ranging from an Italian Count to a scruffy dog, and directed his first play.

Not only did Orestes work in his own playhouse, but he was hired as an actor in many prestigious New York theater companies such as "Cafe La Mamma," "Stage 73," "Dume," "The Henry Street Playhouse," and "The Astor Place Theater," where he performed in a long list of plays.

Orestes decided to move on into films so he wrote and starred in two pictures he helped to produce.  Soon after, he went behind the camera to direct his first film "Fatal Encounter" which he also produced, wrote and acted in.
Then, Orestes went to live for a while in Hendersonville, North Carolina so he could raise the capital to produce and direct his next movie from a screenplay he had written called "Tainted".  A year and a half later the movie was completed.

Orestes then returned to New York to plant the seed for the greatest production of his life, Lawrence Rafael, his beloved son.

Finally, Orestes arrived in Hollywood for the first time. It was a little disappointing for him.  He had imagined Tinsel town to have a greater nightlife than Paris and New York put together, filled with movie stars and beautiful people getting in and out of limousines until dawn.  He was astounded to see the entire city of Los Angeles getting ready for bed by nine o'clock at night.  Always an optimist, he concluded that movie stars aren't stupid, so, like them, he should delay the wrinkles on his face by going to bed early and having a good night's sleep.  He says it didn't work for him, unfortunately.  He even lost his hair!

Nowadays, Orestes can be seen starring as the antagonist in films such as the blockbuster "The Mask" starring Jim Carrey and directed by Charles Russell, "A Kiss To Die For," starring Mimi Rogers, "Lifted," "Guaguasi," "Judgment," starring Eliot Gould, "Los Gusanos," "Greyhound," starring James Couburn, "Fatal Encounter," "The Take," starring Ray Sharkey, "Soldier's Fortune," "Diggstown" starring James Woods and Louis Gossett Jr. and the remake of "Motorcycle Gang," directed by John Milius.

Recently Orestes finished shooting "Last Stand," a story were he portrays a Russian General named Ivan Kragov who wants to conquer the world and "Wild Wild West," based on the television show starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.
On television, Orestes has appeared on "Saturday Night Live" in what turned out to be a very funny segment called "Roach Safari" in which he played a Cockroach Exterminator. Also, he has been in "Mann & Machine" (episode: "Truth or Consequence") playing the bad guy you loved to hate, and has just completed shooting the season's last two episodes of "Soldiers of Fortune" (episodes:"Deja Vu" & "Apre Vu") as a guest star for Jerry Bruckheimer.
Orestes has been a guest star on the Spanish Sitcom "Corte Tropical," was the star in a pilot called "3x2," worked as a regular in "Salvese Quien Pueda," and had a recurrent role in "Sabado Gigante" for Spanish Television.  Also, he has been featured on half a dozen talk shows for Spanish and American television.

In the last few years, Orestes has expanded his versatility as a playwright and screenwriter.  His writing encompasses a variety of styles: thrillers, dramas, comedies, horror and action-adventures. Five of the 23 screenplays he has written have been produced, and six more have been optioned. Furthermore, he has developed two sitcom concepts and created a game show.  His most recently produced screenplay was "Bitter Sugar," a love story that takes place in today's tyrannical Cuba. It opened to excellent reviews and has done extremely well at the box office both in the US and internationally, "Bitter Sugar" has been shown to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland and to the US Congress.  For Mr. Matacena that was spiritually rewarding.

If you go to www.TrueIndieMovies.com, a company Orestes founded with his partner and love of his life, Orna Rachovitsky, you can check out independently produced movies and "Sex Guns Money @ 20," a film he wrote, directed and produced with Orna. For more information please visit the film's website: www.sexgunsmoneyat20.com. His latest work as producer-write-director is "In Plain View" which can be acquire at TrueIndieMovies.