Claris FileMaker's integration into Problemista's plot.

Throughout Problemista, the new A24 indie film from Julio Torres, there is an ongoing dialog and deep drama about Claris FileMaker Pro. Yes, FileMaker Pro is featured in a movie, which you might think is good news. Based on initial press coverage and a clip on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, we thought perhaps not. In those brief seconds of national television coverage, our beloved software was called a “harder to use, not free” version of Google Sheets.

So, is this big screen debut a major problemista for all of us who love FileMaker?

Well, spoiler alert! With the kind of dramatic arc that only a great film can render, and true to the customizable and expandable nature of FileMaker itself, when we reach the film’s apex, we come to find that the hero of the tale is indeed FileMaker Pro.

How could this be? What is this wonderous hero’s journey centered on FileMaker Pro? Let’s get into it.

Chasing time: Julio Torres' creative odyssey.

Problemista is written and directed by, and stars, Julio Torres. You may know him from standup specials, the HBO series Los Espookys, and you have likely enjoyed sketches he wrote for Saturday Night Live, including Papyrus with Ryan Gosling. Julio emigrated from El Salvador to New York City, where he attended The New School for Literary Studies and worked for various media companies and art institutions before landing a television writing gig and eventually joining the writing staff of SNL.

The somewhat biographical film mirrors Torres’ own struggle to find an employer to sponsor his immigration. Alejandro (Julio Torres) faces relentless obstacles as he works to immigrate to the United States. The film does a brilliant job of emphasizing these issues and creating tension while keeping us laughing. The audience and characters' anxiety intensifies – visualized through the recurring motif of an hourglass slowly counting down Alejandro's remaining time to secure a sponsor.

Alejandro’s hourglass was shown on a shelf in a drab room full of other hourglasses, all representing the many people who must live within these limited, stressful, shrinking windows. In stark contrast, the affluent citizens in the film can literally just drink a potion that cryogenically freezes their bodies, stopping time so they can painlessly nap while their problems are solved.

Witnessing Alejandro's struggle to find a sponsor and seeing the ensuing downward spiral is deeply immersive. Our empathy for Alejandro grows with the film's progression. There are moments that feel like it’s all too much, but then, just as he is at his lowest, the narrative begins to shift. Alejandro starts to stand up for himself, and instead of fearing the dragon, he evolves to be able to slay it. By the way, the dragon thing isn’t an analogy – this movie is surreal, with dreamy scenes that take you inside Alejandro’s mind.

The critic’s conundrum: Tilda Swinton is delightfully despicable.

We meet Alejandro as he is fired from his job as an archivist at a cryogenics company and, as a result, loses his sponsorship. The sands start to slip through the hourglass as he looks for a new sponsor. As he retreats, his good nature has him helping Elizabeth, an art critic played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton, in moving the belongings of her artist husband who is cryogenically frozen at the facility. Elizabeth is obnoxious, rude, floundering, and troubled. But Alejandro’s own depth of character, innate appreciation for humanness, and raw expression draw something out in her.

Elizabeth enlists Alejandro’s help in organizing a show to sell her husband's art to raise money to continue his frozen care. However, before the show can proceed, the art first needs to be accurately cataloged in, you guessed it, FileMaker Pro. Despite knowing nothing about FileMaker, Alejandro, eager for the job and the sponsorship it could bring, insists he has the necessary experience to manage the database.

Handling the database is clearly important, as it is the only object that Elizabeth doesn’t disdain. In fact, to her, it is "The Cadillac of archival databases." Elizabeth’s FileMaker Pro database is extremely important to her because it’s the way she tracks the location of her husband’s artwork. She fears that something will go awry and that she may lose track of her paintings, an important connection to her husband.

Canvas of code: An ode to FileMaker's artistry.

Thus, FileMaker emerges as an unexpectedly prominent third character. This isn't totally surprising, given Torres' proclivity for transforming inanimate objects into characters, such as a personified Craigslist and a McDonald's McNugget toy named Krisha, who was cast but didn’t make the final cut.

While Torres could have cast other software in this role, he chose FileMaker. As it turns out, FileMaker had already played a role in his career. Before becoming a comedian, several of Torres' past organizations used FileMaker. Since FileMaker's effectiveness and ease of use hinges on how each custom solution is designed for the particular organization, he may have encountered poor examples of what FileMaker is capable of. Yes, anyone can build a simple application with FileMaker, but creating highly adaptable custom applications requires experience to best capture requirements and opportunities.

Just as the artwork in the film starts as a blank canvas, so does FileMaker. An empty file waiting for the artist to create. Each FileMaker system converges design, code, and data to culminate into a unique expression tailored to an organization's specific needs. At its best, FileMaker development is a collaboration between users, business stakeholders, and the coder or designer.

During the question-and-answer sessions at the Problemista SXSW premiere, Julio Torres stated that FileMaker was a significant part of his life and admitted he "never figured it out." No worries, Julio – you're not alone. Many users never delve deeper than the UI crafted by a developer. Because the efforts and talents of the artists vary, so can the results. If you haven't figured it out yet, worry not. FileMaker is a medium made for artists of all levels and allows for dynamic solutions that adapt to the growth and evolution of the organization.

May all the databases be synced.

The story reaches its resolution with Alejandro telling Elizabeth, “All the databases are synced!” With this, everything is set right in the world.

While Problemista is not Scrooged or Mean Girls, it is one of the best movies by a former SNL writer. Just as FileMaker has a bright future, so does Julio Torres, and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Thank you, Julio.