So many big-budget American films are made with an eye toward export that they are virtually silent films. In other words, shut off the sound on any blockbuster and you can follow it with perfect lucidity, even without subtitles.
When doing an American movie, I try to keep the language fluid and brisk. With my personal films, it’s the exact opposite -- I hate in my personal films for things to pay off. I would have hated in The Devil‘s Backbone for somebody to explain to the boy the fate of his parents, or for one of the characters to be “redeemed.” I find it -- not alarming, but very usual for the flavor of European films to become homogenized. The Brotherhood of the Wolves, which I enjoyed, could easily have been made in Hollywood. And much as I enjoyed it, I did so with a sense of loss. When I see a European film with more bite, like No Man’s Land, I feel nostalgic.
One Mexican film I had involvement with, and of which I am extremely proud, is Amores Perros -- a savage movie that doesn‘t try at all to be safe. I worked for a few days with the director as an associate editor. It was already a masterpiece by then, but I was able to make a few small recommendations about its shape and rhythm.
What advice do you give to young filmmakers in Mexico? Or here, for that matter?
I have no advice. My crossing over was a complete accident. I’ve been cursed with a Gypsy‘s curse as a filmmaker. I never shoot where I live. I am from Guadalajara, so when I went to Mexico City to make Cronos, it was as a traveler, a stranger in town. When I did Mimic, it was for an American company, and the story was set in New York, and we filmed it in Toronto. We filmed The Devil’s Backbone in Spain. Blade 2 is an American movie made in Prague. I have no idea how I achieved this, and wouldn‘t know what to advise.