Except for the fact that an ad hoc camera crew is following him around, his faded jeans and trucker hat make Diego Luna look like the last person who should be staying at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. We talked about his new flick, Mexican film and Latin American audiences.
Photo courtesy Dustin Zarnikow, Santiago Times
Luna sits down with Revolver to talk about how the festival audience received his first feature, Abel, which opened Sanfic 6. The actor- turned-director then discusses the Mexican anthology film Revolución, which also screened at the festival, and talks candidly about what he believes has been fundamental in the international success of Mexican cinema.
Luna is particularly happy with the post-screening discussion of the Chilean Premiere of his film Abel, the story of a young boy who upon returning home from a mental institution begins to act like the head of his household.
“Tonight we learned that my film works in other Latin American countries too”, he confides enthusiastically. “Sometimes, even though we share a Spanish language, we aren’t as connected as we should be.” According to Luna, Latin American audiences often drift towards Hollywood themes while overlooking more local and regional stories. With Abel, “it was nice to see that the audience stuck with it all the way through,” Luna remarks, “they laughed and seemed to be moved by the story…. I’m very happy.”
Most people recognize Diego Luna from Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 film Y Tu Mamá También. He’s had a hefty career as an actor since then, but in that memorable coming of age film, Tenoch (Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) took global audiences across the Mexican countryside for what seemed like the very first time. Cuaron’s film was part of a revolutionary break with the past. With Mexico leading the way, Latin American films were suddenly thrust onto the world stage.
“Young directors started to get involved,” explains Luna, “and they saw themselves in a globalized world, influenced by European cinema as well as by independent films coming out of the US.” A rich cultural diversity, portrayed unapologetically by a new generation of directors, “is what makes Latin American cinema worthwhile and relevant today.” This is why Luna is so excited about Revolución, an anthology film project he helped produce.
The film attempts to capture the cultural diversity that characterizes Mexico. The idea was to have ten directors individually portray the legacy of the 1910 Revolution. “Watching the films individually, you get the sense that each director comes from a totally different reality and that was the whole idea....we live in a country full of diversity and I think the film celebrates this.”
Luna laments that he’s seen few Chilean films lately (“I saw Tony Manero and La Nana”). “It’s sad that I have to come to this festival in order to find out about new Chilean productions.” The economic reality of the film industry both in Chile and in Mexico puts a damper on his unifying vision for Latin American cinema. The system is pinche injusto (“f---ing unfair”). But at the same time, Luna recognizes that filmgoers aren’t moved by altruism and that local filmmakers are responsible for telling their stories well. “We have to see why we aren’t connecting with our own audiences.” Despite the constraints, he’s optimistic: “we have to start to dream up bigger things, attract larger audiences and we mustn’t forget that when we get it right… people do come.”