Still from 'New order'.
For Michel Franco (Mexico, 41 years old), a social conflict of capital dimensions is just around the corner.
He makes it clear in his latest film,
, which has caused a stupor today at the Venice
Festival, where he is competing for the Golden Lion to be announced this Saturday.
“It is not an omen, but it is a warning.
I want to spark a conversation that helps things change.
My film invites us to think about what we are doing wrong ”, said the director today, sitting with a cup of tea in a hotel on the Venetian Lido.
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, the only film in Spanish in the contest, is a brutal dystopia that takes place in a Mexico not far removed from the present, where an uprising of the indigenous population establishes a military regime that subdues the white elite.
The new power murders hundreds of people and kidnaps as many, locking them up in concentration camps until their families pay millionaire ransoms.
Those with less luck will be executed.
The streets are filled with checkpoints and a curfew is decreed that limits free movement.
The result is intimidating due to its rawness.
“I think it falls short of the violence it could have shown, but I don't like to torture the public.
For me, the limit is not to fall into gloating ”, Franco defends himself, who was inspired by movements such as Black Lives Matter or the
in France, as well as urban protests in Chile, Colombia or Hong Kong.
The film generates perplexity by the director's intentions, which are never clear, and by the imprecise ideological reading of what it shows.
“I did not want to give messages or educate, because the cinema is not good for that.
My political convictions are not important.
The ambiguity of the film is deliberate.
I wanted to keep it open, even if it was not easy, so that the public from different countries can project themselves in what I tell, ”says Franco, who wanted everything to be as indefinite as the abstract painting with which his film begins, the work of the Mexican artist Omar Rodríguez-Graham.
Its title is more illustrative:
Only the dead have seen the end of the war
The paramilitary group in the film can refer to the Zapatistas, the FARC or the rest of movements in the history of the political struggle in Latin America, but also to the events of 2014 in Iguala (Guerrero), where the police violence led to the disappearance 43 students, or other violent episodes mythologized by official history.
“When they teach you the French Revolution in school, they tell you it was positive, but they never tell you about the people who were killed or looted,” Franco protests.
Your movie seems to hint that violence is never justified.
“I don't think I am.
But be careful not to suffocate too much and not to pull the rope until it breaks.
If the situation explodes, we all lose.
Some seem to cry out for violence ”, he clarifies.
portrays a wealthy Mexican family that will experience this outbreak of violence in the front row.
From his gallery of hateful characters, Franco only saves three: the daughter of that privileged tribe, a candid but compassionate woman, willing to be absent from her own wedding to save an old maid who is between life and death;
and two of his domestic workers, indigenous people who do not support the use of force.
Between the symbolic violence of the rich and the physical violence of the poor, Franco chooses equidistance.
"Except for those who have good intentions, even if they are naive," responds the director.
Analogy with the Holocaust
The audacity of their parable and the narrative vigor of the film are undeniable, even though they also travel through troubled territory.
At times, the film shudders with its implicit references to the Holocaust: prisoners are numbered, doused with hoses, executed and industrially cremated.
The indigenous people, turned into oppressors in this fiction, occupy a somewhat embarrassing position in this uncomfortable analogy, which the director assures was not voluntary.
"I am Jewish, so I carry it in my subconscious," says Franco, a descendant of Sephardim.
In Venice, the film coincided today with two other titles marked by extreme violence, which seem to predict the end of the cycle that the pandemic pronounced:
And Tomorrow the Entire World
, about a German anti-fascist group that is dedicated to fighting far-right militants , and
Run Hide Fight
, about a shooting at an American school.
Like those films,
describes a sudden event that changes society forever.
A very topical notion, even though it was shot a year and a half ago.
“They are ideas that were already in the air before this crisis, but that the pandemic is going to pronounce.
The rich will have a vaccine before the poor.
People without running water are urged to wash their hands and families without connection to be educated online, while the rest of us complain about how annoying it is to lock ourselves at home or wear a mask.
Social resentment will not stop increasing ”.