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Mexican Cinema, Old And New

 April 1, 2016 at 10:13 AM PDT

Beth Accomando: Welcome back to another edition of KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast. I am Beth Accomando. Last month, the San Diego Latino Film Festival showcased more than a 160 films. As a follow-up to my podcast about Latin Extreme Cinema, The Festival and Beyond, I’m doing a follow-up podcast looking specifically to Mexican cinema and the two filmmakers I am focusing on had films screened at the festival last month. The filmmakers are veteran-director Arturo Ripstein and the up incoming Isaac Ezban. The festival showed Ripstein’s latest film Bleak Street, which reveals a master at the top of his form and a filmmaker who still has a fire in his belly to say something in bold cinematic terms. Ezban came to the festival to present his second film there, Los Parecidos, or the English title The Similars. Ripstein is a third-generation Mexican of Polish and Russia-Jewish descent. He grew up on the film sets of his father, Alfredo Ripstein Jr. When his father took him to Luis Buñuel’s experimental film Nazarín, about the misadventures of a catholic priest, the teenage Ripstein suddenly realized that film could be something other than the Mexican melodramas that his father often produced. Ripstein has bent entire career making films outside the realm of conventional expectations and sometimes in conflict with Mexican censors, but he faces such conflicts with right humor. Arturo Ripstein: It’s horrifying, but it makes you sly, it makes you -- have to walk like a reptile around the obstacles and that can also be stimulated. Beth Accomando: Ripstein provides a context for what Mexican cinema has become, and that’s why my second interview is Isaac Ezban, a young filmmaker with just a pair of films under his belt. I spoke with Ripstein in 2000, after the San Diego Latino Film Festival screened his films Devine and No One Writes to the Colonel. I conducted the interview at the home of his parents in La Jolla. Beth Accomando: Now, your father was in film industry. Arturo Ripstein: And he still is. Beth Accomando: Still? Arturo Ripstein: Oh, yes, he starts a new movie in May, old producer. Beth Accomando: I wanted to find out what were you first memories of the film industry and film making? Arturo Ripstein: Actually, my first memories of film are my first memories in general, that and the horrifying birth of my younger sister when I was about two and half, and then she -- I am the oldest son, the only son, and all of a sudden she born and I wanted to choke her and I tried ruthlessly for a while anyhow, that’s my first memory. My second memory is of me going with my father to see films with my father and mother, and go see him at work, which was for me absolutely fascinating. I remember sitting on Carlos Savage's lap, he's the editor of films like Los Olvidados and The Exterminating Angel, and Nazarin and all -- mostly all of Buñuel’s films he did in Mexico and I used to sit in his lap when I was about three years old, and it was absolutely fascinating, I mean watching the little window there that had pictures that moved was absolutely astonishing to me. Since then, I never wanted to quit, I never wanted to leave films. My imagining of things also pertained to that, what I had never flown on a plane, first time I flown on a plane I must have been 10 or 12, I was asked how -- what do you think an airplane is like and I used to say well, some big round thing that flies and inside it has a camera and a director's chair and cables in the floor, then lights that go up and down when the cameraman says so, everything that I thought of was about film, I never wanted to leave, once I started, once I entered, it was destiny. I couldn't believe, it was absolutely fascinating, there was nothing more rewarding for me than my father taking me to see him work, when I didn’t get good grades in school, which was quite often, my father wouldn’t take me and that was horrifying, I mean it was stimulating for me to get good grades because I knew then my father would take me to the studio, and that's how I found my vocation and how learned my craft. Beth Accomando: Now, you when you were this little child watching the editing, what do you think fascinated you the most, was that the images or was that the machinery or…? Arturo Ripstein: No, it was the making of the thing, it was entering instantaneously into a make-believe world, I mean you had doors that lead nowhere and stairs that when up but to nowhere and you had no ceilings and you had people, painted people that were pretending to be somebody else, and you had a director telling them what to do and the cameraman lighting them up, it was absolutely fascinating, it was like nothing you could gather in real life. I’ve always preferred fantasy than to real life, my filmmaking eventually has become a sort of a revenge against reality, against the world, it's sort of a revenge and a defense and film can be weapon so it will be defensive and an offensive, and I’ve always used it like that. I used to guard myself from life, from real life, the other one is much better, the one that would invent the change that you control and discriminate upon, that's much more fascinating. Beth Accomando: Now, do you think that seeing at a young age kind of both sides of film, I mean you’re seeing kind of the magic of what goes on in screen, but you’re also seeing behind-the-scenes, how those are created, how do you think that might have influenced the way you make films now in terms of how you see a world images? Arturo Ripstein: When I'm asked what stage I prefer from filmmaking, it's always the shooting, it's always the making of the film I guess, because I was so delighted to be there when I was a little kid. The whole aspect of the gears that go on to make a film will always very enthralling and very important to me, so I still keep the fact I rather shoot the film than watch it. Truman Capote once said that when you have a certain talent, god also gives you a whip in order to whip yourself and in the case of filmmaking, though the filmmaking is a talent and the whip is having to sit down and watch your movies, which is not that fascinating anymore. You tend to only see what could have been done better or what you don't like or what you didn't learn enough or your weaknesses, so it's very complicated, so I much rather be there in the set staging up everything and being on top of things than having to watch them later, so I guess that from my very young days being so marveled at how they did it, I do it then then and I still marvel enormously, I mean where I'm sitting down there and watching what's going on, it still is wonderful as when I was little. Beth Accomando: Do you still enjoy watching other people’s films? Arturo Ripstein: Certainly, yes, I go to the movies as much as I can and I am very stimulated many times with -- from the things that I watch in other people's films. It is very inspiring many times, it becomes less and less not only with time, but with real life also, films are tending to get worse and worse every time, I mean one you see a good film every so often and all the rest that I see I don't like at all, and that that becomes to me very depressing, but I go to the movies as much as I can. Beth Accomando: Now, I was reading that you are -- bit dissolution with Mexican film industry and created your own company? Arturo Ripstein: No, this is not disillusionment, the problem basically is that we had a fairly large industry for Spanish-speaking country, for quite a while, Mexico was the largest industry in the Spanish-speaking world. We used to make anywhere from 100 to 120 films a year, now the output is about six to eight films a year, and that is very difficult to handle. There's only just a handful of films made and it's not that I'm angry about that; I’m very frustrated because there's not many people that can go in and make films. I made my own company because at a given point I thought I would enter in to controlling a little more if the possible gains of a movie, we don't get paid a lot in Mexico if we get paid at all. So, sometimes you believe that one film can be rather more successful and another or whatever, and having a company to control that, I thought was a good idea, of course, it's never happened that I’ve seen a scent come from the films that I've been into as a company. It's just for fun, it’s my wife and my two sons that have the company, and we just like to see the name in the credits. Beth Accomando: Now, do you use your company to produce your own films as well? Arturo Ripstein: Only my own films, associated with of course with the larger companies that do the films in Mexico, film is financed by the government now, it used to be that there were producers that made the movies with loans from a special bank that gave the money to make films in care of distribution when it was possible to distribute your films through our natural markets which were the Spanish-speaking audiences. That's not possible anymore, so there's a film office in Mexico, a film office that gives you funding for the film. When the film is accepted as a project as a viable project, you get only about -- anywhere from 40% to 50% of the cost, so you have to get the costs from elsewhere, usually coproduction is the way, coproduction with France or Spain or Canada or people -- countries that have signed coproduction agreements with Mexico, and that is how you get things moving there once a while. So, my company usually works for the major -- with a bigger company that is one that handles Mexico's money. We’re just associated in a very small term. Beth Accomando: Now, your firm sort of running into some problems with censorship, how has that affected you? Arturo Ripstein: Censorship is very interesting issue, you have to be very sly in order to sort of avoid it and Mexicans used to have a very rigorous censorship at a given point, it’s a bit more lax at this moment, but I’ve encountered with a few of my works -- some impossibilities to have -- have them shown one of my films was never released ever in Mexico, fortunately, it's probably the worst film I ever did, so I was very thankful for the exquisite taste of the military that was once the forbade the film, and there was another one or two documentaries that I did that were never shown in its entirety because the possible venue was television and they were quite censored, I mean I made a one hour and 45 minute feature-length documentary that was shown with about 45 minutes off, and it has been only show in the cinematheque and very partially and so I’ve encountered my lot of censorship, and it's horrifying but it makes you sly, it makes you have to walk like a reptile around the obstacles, and that can also be stimulating. Remember, well, with Vienna, when he was not allowed to make the ending that he wanted, and he had to change -- the ending that he wanted was Vienna and her cousin, Francis Caravel staying together insidiously and he was not allowed to do that, so he was asked to have somebody else in their presence, and he decided to have this woman, the woman that plays the maid in the film playing cards with Caravel and the cousin entering and all the three of them sit down, start to play cards, which is a much more disturbing ending the one he intended, so sometimes these issues of not being able to say the things as you want can make you say them in a much more ferocious manner, even though it is not ostensible. Beth Accomando: Yeah, I was interested in that because I know that there are some filmmakers like from Czechoslovakia, also some of the mainland Chinese filmmakers, where it seems like if you take them out of their country and put them in a situation where they may not have as much censorship problems, in some ways their films don't seem as good as when they were kind of like fighting against… Arturo Ripstein: No doubt about that. I can remember Yowl, the Turkish film that was formidable and when the director left Turkey and went to France to make this film not only made a horrendous film he also died and so sometimes it did works when Perestroika came in, Perestroika started with film as you recall and they started to make a new film that they sort of wanted, they started to make the worst films possible in the Soviet Union. So, it's reality that makes you say what you have to say, it's belonging to a certain country within a certain system, locked in a certain period of time that makes you say what you have to say, you are inevitably from where you are and inevitably from your time you cannot be more modern than what you are, you can be a little more ancient but never more modern, which is one of this -- the struggles of young filmmakers try to keep up with constantly. Beth Accomando: Now, Mexican filmmaker like Guillermo Del Toro has moved to Hollywood or at least he’s making films in Hollywood, is that something that has ever been an attraction or do you feel that you really need to be in Mexico to make that kind of films that are of interest to you? Arturo Ripstein: The Mexican filmmakers that have move to Hollywood are about four, [indiscernible] [00:17:12] Del Toro so far, have become American filmmakers, you cannot distinguish their work from everybody else's except in the case of the Toro, who has a stranger personality, in the case of the others, they just blend into whatever is asked of them to do. I was tempted at a given point to go to Hollywood for a couple of reasons, one, so that my work could be shown generally, and two, so I could eat out of my work, then I sat down to think and the price was costly, I wouldn’t have been able to do the films that I do in Mexico in the United States. I was offered -- I still am constantly films about a boy and a dog, I really wouldn't know what to do with that. Beth Accomando: I remember the films that you have made, did you find it particularly difficult making films that didn’t really have like a pro-catholic kind of view point in a country where Catholicism is so strong? Arturo Ripstein: I’ve never made anti-Catholic films actually. Beth Accomando: Not anti, but I wouldn't say that there really a -- only Christian I think. Arturo Ripstein: All sorts of things in my film, Mexico is a Catholic country, I'm not Catholic, I am a Jew, but I have always blended quite nicely, it's a very liberal country religious wise. I've never been asked or told to do things that have to do with Catholic morals at all. What I question in my work is civil society in general, which includes of course religion, but it's never been an issue, I've never been a filmmaker of that kind of never been a sociologist or anthropologists with my work. I've always tried to get my opinions away from my work, opinions I have about everything of course, but try not to let the merge with the work that I'm trying to do, so it's never really been problematic in that sense. Beth Accomando: So, the censorship problems haven’t been in regards to problems that churches had? Arturo Ripstein: Not necessarily, maybe once in a film many years ago, but not necessarily. The main censorship issue right now is economic. The first and the worst one is self-censorship, things that you don't do because you know you can't get through with it, so you just tend to forget them and the second and almost as bad as economic censorship, which is even worse here in the States, because there's a lot of projects that never get a lift from the floor because economically they’re not feasible, so many works that have been done because they were not economically right, and that is basically the obstacle that I face or that we all face, you cannot get moneys to make certain kind of films because it will appeal to nobody and they might be right that the films have the right to their existence even if they are not just to please audiences, even though when you make films even though you don’t care a lot about success, which is certainly my case, I have to have a certain success either critical or economical in order to get on with my work. It is not as definite as in the States, where you’re as good as your last box office issue, in Mexico, being a failure or being a success does not inside very definitely on your next work, you can have several flops and still keep on working, if they have a certain critical tone -- critically acclaimed tone, even though it's very minor, so it's not a big problem, Mexico in that sense, if we had money would be the ideal place to make movies and because you’re never truly successful. You can be enormously successful within certain limits, it’s what the French would call success of team, which is you’re sort of light but it's never an issue, so you don't have to compromise with your audiences because you don't have any, nobody wants you to die because you’re successful and they’re not because nobody's really successful, nobody's truly envious of your success because you don't have it, so it would be perfect because nobody would seem to even care about what you're doing in order to do it and you don’t have to imitate yourself constantly in order to please people. I was talking to [indiscernible] [00:22:58] not so long ago, he’s a good friend and a couple of drinks later, he started saying I’m so sick of being and more over that he has to be -- moreover constantly he’s a phenomenon, and he cannot betray the people that go see him, and he has to have an output [indiscernible] [00:23:22] within himself, in our case, in the case of the very minor filmmakers, the invisible filmmakers of the rest of world or at least the War and Nickel Woods is freer to do whatever we want, there's -- nobody expects anything from you, I mean the horrors are inside, it's just true dislikes amongst the filmmakers, but that doesn't pertain to anything, it’s just like in a big office where the secretary hates the boss or the other secretary and that’s how it works. Beth Accomando: Now, I can’t remember who had said this, I think it was either [indiscernible] [00:24:05] the filmmaker really only makes on film in their life and they just keep remaking it, do you feel at any sense that that’s true for you? Arturo Ripstein: Every artist has said that, not only [indiscernible] [00:24:21] the same guy, but every artist has said that, I mean Matisse said that and of course Leonardo Da Vinci not only said that but did that, it’s only one piece of option that you go through all your life, people don’t change where we just grow older and crankier and arteriosclerotic, but basically everybody's the same, you have the same obsessions and you have the same likes and the same dislikes, even though they drift with your work, I mean you learn the craft and then you know what to do with the things that you like so they differ, but basically we always do more or less the same thing. At a given point, who was it, Mauriac, I think it was said that man is his style or it might have been Paul Valerie who was much brighter and Lasteel Aloma, so it's just obsessions going on about your stuff constantly over and over again that gives you a style, and even though genres can be different, at the end, you'll face will always pop-pop, pop -pop. Matisse said when he painted a doorknob, it was always a self-portrait. Beth Accomando: Now, for you, what do you feel are the themes that have defined your films that you keep revisiting? Arturo Ripstein: When I was a young director, I always thought was intolerance that I talked about, but now it’s family relations and likes and dislikes within a closely knit groups, but that would be the stories that I talk about, in the manner that I talk about these things, is constantly going against constructed order, usually my work is against is established premises. So, it is about fundamentally destruction I would very much like to say, but it’s only my opinion, I hope it's like that, I don't know. I go out there and I have certain likes, certain affinities to stories or to film to certain filmmaking -- certain style of filmmaking things like that, when I find that some story becomes inevitable that I started think about it constantly then I know that that's what I have to go and film. We don't get offers in Mexico like come and make this film for us and things like that, we usually are the ones that take our work to be main, to be produced, so whenever somebody sort of stings you and you become obsessed with that and it becomes inevitable then that's how I know that I want to make it, and it usually comes up again and again this idea of breaking an order and that's a very broad idea of course, so it's got to be handled very carefully in order to be pompous and portentous, because films are just what they are and if there is a options of -- understanding of the film and if there are three different readings of the same work, it's not my intention, it's the critics that come up with these things, never me. Beth Accomando: Has there ever been a critic that has come up with an interpretation of your film that you just … Arturo Ripstein: Many times, there's a book written about my work, there is several but especially one that was written couple of years ago or something like that, that was fantastic, I mean reading that I couldn’t even go through the whole thing because it was embarrassing and very strange, I mean the things that I said, the things that I did and how I did them was very perplexing. So, if it's there in the film world, let it be welcome, but it was never intentional. One goes through life rather blindfolded in a stupid sense of understanding things, so when these -- when other things gel, it is never so tremendously intentional, I mean not in my case at all, it just happens. Beth Accomando: Now, how do you see your latest two films Devine and Colonel, were those the two most recent films? Arturo Ripstein: No, there is another one. Beth Accomando: That hasn’t come out yet? Arturo Ripstein: No, it’s just recently finished. Beth Accomando: How do you see these works fitting into kind of the whole neural body of work? Arturo Ripstein: No, you have to me that that I don’t know. I just make every film as it comes and I’ve been making it for 35 years already, I was a 21-year-old director when I made my first one and 56-year-old director right now, quite a veteran at this point and with every one of the twenty something films that I've done, I've always except for one maybe or two that I knew were gastronomical movies, I mean once I had to do in order to eat, had a family to feed and I had to take bread and butter to the table, except for those, every film that I’ve ever done, I've always tried to make the best film possible. I failed many -- more times and said that the life succeeded, which is circumstantial but I don't know how they fit into when I die, somebody will let me know I’m sure. Beth Accomando: Now, how did you initially get into the industry and work with Buñuel? Arturo Ripstein: I want to see a lot of films with my parents, they used to take me to the movies a lot and I had met Buñuel when I was young kid, because like my father he had a fascination for weapons, for guns, so they went to shoot at shooting galleries, I don’t know how you call them, and so I went with my father and so I know this old guy that used a pistol very inappropriately, and my father took me to see those, which was a revelation. I grown up in an industry and my father was a commercial film producer, he had to captive audiences and they were intended -- films were intended for that sort of purpose, and the purpose of pleasing these audiences. So, my father once took me when I was but 15 years old to see Nazarin, it was quite a discovery for me because the thing that I saw there was that film could be different from what I had seen all throughout till I was -- sure was quite a discovery. It didn't have to be this sort of sclerotic kind of narrative in order to have to exist, I went to see Buñuel few months later, a few weeks later, and I knocked his door and sit -- where would I sit, I saw your film and like I want to be director like you, close the door on my nose of course, and I was quite amazed, and then he opened the door again and he brought me into his house, he said, come on sit down, he took me to dining room, he put a little projector there, he picked up a real [indiscernible] [00:33:21] was to focus, then he took it off, then he put [indiscernible] [00:33:25] by that, he took it off, he projected again, and then he said, you still want to be director like me, more than never and that was the beginning of beautiful friendship, no doubt. Many years later, not many three years later, I asked if I could watch him direct The Exterminating Angel and he was amenable enough to let me stand in the corner and watch him the movie, I had done with many other directors in Mexico, there was no film school, then so you learn the craft by watching films and reading -- about more reading about film in general and watching the people make them -- watching the directors make them, so I had stood in the corner for quite a while with many directors and I was fortunate enough that Buñuel let me stand more or less the same corner, and watch him do it. The bad directors that I saw make their movies were much more stimulating Buñuel of course, because when you're 18 years old 17 years old and bold enough to eat the world by in one gas -- I knew that I could do the things that the other directors were doing much better, where with Buñuel, it was very difficult to do it better than him, I mean he was very difficult even to understand what the he was doing in that set at that time, but it was very moving and a very enriching experience for me. I didn’t learn technique from Buñuel at all, I saw him from there on till he died, I mean I had this chance and he never taught me technical things or stuff like that, I mean I saw him and I know how he did it. What he taught me was rather a moral approach to film an ethical approach to film, which could basically be summed up by the idea of try not to betray yourself if you can, try to do the work that you think is important and viable, and that will not go against what you believe and feel basically. Beth Accomando: Now, do you feel that Divine was more so than your other films kind of an homage to him? Arturo Ripstein: Oh, certainly. Divine is Nazarin 45 years later, it's not Nazarin after Psychedelia and I had a great opportunity to work with [indiscernible] [00:36:29] also, so it was quite evident that it was Bunuel is so around this film room more than any other, my films and Bunuel’s films don't resemble themselves a lot, even though I've been accused of being his disciple, I just like them a lot, but I never tried to do films like he did. I wouldn’t be able to working from Surrealism and just Mexico which is more or less the same thing, but I live in an absurd country, Bunuel went there and looked for it and he found it, so my work and his work have no resemblance at all except for Divide in which the idea of Bunuel’s sort of flew over the thing, it's full of the little jokes with Bunuel, it's hopefully a Nazarin after he went through the cultural revolution. Beth Accomando: Now, the way he let you kind of come onto set and watch him and kind of helped you into the industry, are you feeling that you’re in the position to do that to young directors coming up at this point? Arturo Ripstein: They’ve never asked, no, they’ve never asked. People don’t want to owe anything to their contemporaries, so they’re proud enough never to ask, no, I don’t have no followers, none whatsoever in Mexico, and much less than it used to be before. We belong to an industry that was very closed, so when I started to make films only the first generation of directors was still extend, there was no renewal. I entered into film when Amelia Fernandez was still making his movies and all the old guys, so the age gap was greater than it is right now. When I was standing there watching Bunuel work, I was 18 and he was 62, there was a big age gap, I’ve been making films since I was 21. So, the directors that came into film after me are not that younger and now we they are of course, but they don’t ask, they don't even watch the movies. Beth Accomando: When you’re talking Bunuel, you said that you discovered Mexico is an absurd country, what do you mean by that in particular? Arturo Ripstein: Well, it’s a very strong country, I mean I live in a city with 20 million Mexicans, which is quite ferocious, it's a country of survivors basically, especially the one that I like to take a look at, and that makes it for very paradoxical and strange country. It is fascinating and strong and delirious and difficult, so that makes absurdity. Many of the things that you see do not belong to the realm of logic, they belong to the realm of Mexico, which makes it very strange and very peculiar. Mexico is very fascinating in that sense, it's a city I’ve never lived in the country, I’ve only lived in the city that I love desperately in hate as much. So, when you have this relationship country, you can sit down and watch the strange things happen before you rise, which they usually do, they very frequently do. Beth Accomando: Now, do you feel in any way that you’re an outsider in the country? Arturo Ripstein: Every filmmaker in the world is an outsider in his own country because Hollywood has made us so, I mean I feel like a foreign filmmaker in Mexico, which is very strange and it's been done to us. American films which are only local in the United States, are the local films everywhere in the world, so what -- we do considered alien and strange and peculiar and different in many cases, so of course you feel like an outsider in that sense. Within the context of whatever is being done in Mexico and film right now, I've always felt like an outsider. I don’t know how much I’m considered an outsider by others, from my point of view, I’m very much in another venue and another walk of life. Beth Accomando: Now, you said already have another project started or finished? Arturo Ripstein: No, it’s finished. It’s a new movie, that’s called Such is Life and it is an adaptation to today's Mexico of Amadeus, but the Seneca version not the Europe version, which I think is very -- still very extant and viable. It's quite a rough movie, I went to -- the people that fineness of and it’s an adaptation of Amadeus, they also turn very interesting of course, they seem to forget and you mentioned that it's a 1,000-year-old classic, she kills children and when they see the movie it’s frightening Amadeus is exactly that, but the peculiarity of this film is that it's the first film shot in Latin America in the digital video scheme, it’s the first digital movie done in Latin America. We shot in digital video and transferred it to 35 mm later and the results were absolutely fascinating. Beth Accomando: And what made you decide to do in that way, money? Arturo Ripstein: One of the reasons was money, of course, then I like these technological things very much. So, I bought a little camera and started to experiment with it and did a couple transfers to film with it, and I thought it was perfect for the things that I talk about. It’s a very raw beauty that it gives and I thought it would be quite precise for the way I talk about things, the way I shoot movies and the results that I always wanted to get. I always wanted a camera with wings, I started shooting my first film with an enormous Mitchell camera, which needed four people to carry it around, and there were a couple of sequences in my first film, a couple of sequences with no cuts that I did and said it's very difficult to do the things I want to do with an enormous very heavy piece of machinery and rails. So, I always wanted a winged camera and now I got it with this, then another consideration of course is money. It costs about one third of what regular film would cost, now it will be cheaper in the very near future. So, I do believe that it is a way out of our cinemas of countries that don't -- that are not economically very strong, belong to a very collapsed economy, so the cheaper the films, the better it is -- in the end, the less of an economic risk, the more of an artistic risk, and that is important. Beth Accomando: Now that are you planning for to be shown on film? Arturo Ripstein: It is in film already, we’ve already seen that in film. Beth Accomando: So, that’s the way you want to see it? Arturo Ripstein: Yeah, at this moment, that’s the way I want to see it distributed. Eventually, it'll be done just in the tape and very soon not even a tape that will be recorded in different manor, and it will be controlled to things that you don't even expect at this moment, it is indeed the future. Now, for our country, it is indeed the only way out, films very costly, even though they are very cheap compared to films here, but they are very costly for the amount of audiences that we have, so we start to lower the price, we’ll get a better result in our films and it will be -- the difference between not making the films and making them, digital cinema would democratize film like painting is democratic or writing. Anybody with the paper and a pencil can write a sonnet, only the good ones remain, of course, but now everybody will be able to do it for a fraction of the cost of what is done right now. A country that has an output around 8 to 10 films a year, will now be able to -- the same cost to have around 25 or 28 films a year, just important, I mean a lot of no good movies will come out of that, of course, a lot of trash will come off that, but I'm positive that the Mozart of Mexican films will be born with this technology, so it is very important that it is done, very important. Beth Accomando: And what kind of a release is that films set for, is it opening soon or…? Arturo Ripstein: Our films have to be shown through a festival. The films of the invisible filmmakers have to be shown through a festival, so that they have sort of critical attention whatever that maybe, it's very dangerous because you not necessarily have a film that people will like or critics will like, so, it's dangerous but it’s the only way out, so we need this platform, this launching platform, in order to have our films seen, so it will be shown in a festival, I don’t know which one, festivals are very strange, you don't send your films to the festivals, we are not from Hollywood, you get invited, so you send them to whomever or the people at the festivals get rumors of what you’re doing and they ask to see the movie and they invite or not, so we’re waiting for an invitation and see what happens, and from Thereone, it will be released normally in screens, wherever the film will be seen, it will be seen in France, it will be seen in Spain, because those are co-producers of the film, and then probably in Latin America, and then maybe a dozen countries throughout the world, we hope so, it's a very strange movie. Beth Accomando: Are you happy with it? Arturo Ripstein: I am absolutely happy with it, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, one film that doesn't have the demonically sort on top your head that will fail and you feel awful about that, there's no problem there anymore, it won't fail because it’s cheap or it will fail much more modestly than enormous catastrophes which I’ve had many times. So, I'm pleased with it, the versatility, the flexibility of the medium is formidable, you can do many things that you couldn’t before. Beth Accomando: So, this film is kind of liberating experience? Arturo Ripstein: There’s truly no liberty in art, but it took me neared to what I’ve always wanted to do. Beth Accomando: I was at the screening of Divine at the Latino Film Festival, and I just want you to repeat for me what you had talked about with piracy. Arturo Ripstein: I’ve always like that, I read a book by Norman Cohn called Pursuit of the Millennium many years ago, which is a very interesting book about heresies in the year 1000 or around there, when the first apocalyptic notion of the world was going to happen and these heresies happened throughout history and throughout the world they’re all more or less similar and they all have more or less the same names in Jerusalem is a 1000-year-old heresy, Jerusalem meant heaven and earth, which is not what is promised to you when you're alive, you will have heaven in heaven, and Jerusalem promised with the second coming of Christ and with the Messiah or the possibility of eternal life and of happiness and freedom of quality, I mean Utopia in other words and the creation of Utopia, which etymologically means there's no such place, it’s true, so I've always liked creators of Utopia that fall on their faces, within their dreams the things don’t happen like that. So, it was -- I always thought that was very interesting and when I read about this little sect in Mexico that had also the appearance of a medieval sect, and I thought this is a great opportunity to make a movie, but I had to wait for many years first because it was rather more expensive than all the rest of the films I had done because it had a bunch of extras and it was a slightly longer shoot than the other films, so I had to wait for quite a while to do it and fundamentally not only that, but I knew that I had to have a fine tuned instrument to do that film, so I had to wait for a while till I felt that I was capable of doing it. We had thought about this film [indiscernible] [00:51:39] for many years and suddenly we said well now we can do it and we sat down to a perpetrated in whatever manner or fashion was viable. It's a peculiar film because it's a mural, it’s not like in painting, it's not like a small portraits, it’s like a huge thing that you have to see some simultaneously, and then you focus on whatever episodes or characters you are interested in or the characters that take your fancy, so it’s peculiar because the structure is like that, it’s a film that is not structured linearly, but it goes from the beginning to the middle to the end to the middle again to the end to the beginning again, so it’s strange -- I liked it very much, it's a film that’s been tremendously misunderstood, I don't know why. People say it's a minor film with fire -- one of the ones that I liked most in my career. Beth Accomando: That’s one of my favorite of yours. Arturo Ripstein: Oh, I thank you kindly. Thank you very much, it’s a film that I liked very much that I -- that moves me in -- it makes me laugh and it’s like that the couple times I saw it. Beth Accomando: I love the line to where you say movies are like god, they create world. Arturo Ripstein: Yes, of course. It’s about filmmaking, of course, in the end of the end, it's a Nazarene watching movies, so it's about films. Beth Accomando: So, if we take that movie create world or movies are like god, do you see yourself kind of as benevolent God? Arturo Ripstein: No, I’m very malevolent god, no doubt that -- like the god of the Gnostics, I mean he was a very erroneous and defective god that watches much more defective creatures in front of it feels horrible. Beth Accomando: One last question if you had to sum it up, why do you say you make movies, what is it that drives you? Arturo Ripstein: It’s inevitable, it's like breathing. Fundamentally what drives me is the knowledge at this point that making a movie gives you amnesia about the other ones, so many things are there and you wouldn’t want to be there that you just could keep on doing the work, it's so petrifying when you finish a work and you know you’ll have to stay for a long while without making one that -- in order to forget the one that you did, you just go and do the next one, it's quite inevitable. I question myself many times at this point why do I keep on doing it, it's difficult, it's humiliating, it's very frustrating, you never seem to get to where you want in many aspects of this, appreciation is minimum if at all, it's very difficult, but it's the most wonderful work in the world, if it wasn't so, nobody would do it because all the rest is true for almost everybody. It's hard, it's very frightening to be in front of the camera to be behind the camera, I have in front of it this blank page of fulfillment, it’s very -- to get to that point, you had to go through so much that if it wasn't really the best possible option, nobody would do, it's fascinating, it's fun, it's stimulating, it makes you think while you yell, it's good, it's like drinking water, it's like having a lustral bath every once in a while. Beth Accomando: Now, Can you tell me the name of the film you said there is one film that was never shown, it was banned… Arturo Ripstein: No, I don’t want to, it's a pretty horrendous little movie and somebody might pick it up and say, well, what thing is this, it’s a horrible movie, I mean I have my lot of horrible movies, but one learns from that. Beth Accomando: Alright, well, I really appreciate your time. Arturo Ripstein: I thank you very much. Beth Accomando: That was film maker Arturo Ripstein and in interviewer I did in 2000., but his remarks are all relevant to his work today, including his most recent film Bleak Streak, as with Ripstein, director Isaac Ezban must complete with Hollywood for theater space in his own country, but he also reveals the influence of growing up with American pop culture, his latest film Los Parecidos is a sci-fi film that pays homage to the American TV show The Twilight Sound, but while Ezband reveals the influence of American movies and TV, he invests his film with a distinctly Mexican personality. I spoke with Ezban by phone just after his film had its first screening for San Diego Latino Film Festival last month. I saw your new film Los Parecidos at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, and that seems to have been the perfect argument for why people should attend festivals, because having you there to discuss the film and answer questions was such an enriching experience because you put so much thought into your film, it was great. Isaac Ezban: Yeah, well, thank you so much, I am really glad you’re able to be there and I completely agree with you, I think effective outside really important and then I mean it is done some, maybe not objective but I do think that if you watch a film and then get to meet the director and talk to him are -- here I am talking about the film you can like it even more, because you can get more insights and what you wanted to do with the film, I mean at least speaking about me an audience when I go to festival and even before I made feature films, when I walk at festivals and I met directors, I used to like the films even more, sometimes even the opposite can happen, it’s a director, you really don’t like [indiscernible] [00:58:36] you can maybe dislike the film a little but that’s not usual, for me, the usual is if I get to hear the director talking, I like to see more and that’s why I also try to all the way be there with my film and then -- not only that, there are lot of many great things [indiscernible] [00:58:56] do networking with people still with five years and I got my agent and manager representing me, thanks to festivals and also the -- festivals is where people tell us about your skill and films and by then force certain territory so I go -- really about festivals are very important. Beth Accomando: Your film was part of the Un Mundo Extraño sidebar, explain what your film was about and why was such a perfect for that program? Isaac Ezban: The Similars, the English title, basically I always say like a love story to the sci-fi of the ’60s, and like any love story, it’s made with a lot of passion, right, and it’s basically like Twilight Zone episodes and many [indiscernible] [00:59:47] movies and sci-fi stories from the ’60s, the love takes us in 1968, one night, there’s a very hard rain in a bus station in the middle of nowhere like five hours away from Mexico City, we have this group of eight strangers lost in the station trying to get out and they cannot get out because of the rain, the buses are not coming, the roads are overflow, so it’s kind of like this classic setup of – love by the rain, kind of like Identity with John Cusack right in this set -- people always bring the best of the worst in them and they start fighting and paranoia [indiscernible] [01:00:26] what’s happening, this is your fault, why we cannot get to a city, and then on top of that element suddenly a very weird thing starts to happen to them where they start to discover that their faces are becoming similar, physically similar to one of them and they don’t know why and they start pointing fingers who is, responsible for this and I won’t tell you more, you got to see it. But yeah, I do believe that it is a strange film because I think the genre mainly sci-fi and horror but I also have some comedy on it, some of like dark humor, it’s funny that some people have told me I have to tell you something, I hope you don’t feel bad about it, but I laughed at some point, and I am like why am I going to feel bad, you’re supposed to laugh, there is dark humor, well, people don’t feel it has humor just because maybe there is a scary music playing next to fun moment, you know what I mean, so it has a weird tone and it’s definitely I believe great midnight movie, some people can watch it at midnight or great genre movie of sci-fi and nostalgia and horror, and therefore, I think it fits perfectly well in to Un Mundo Extraño. Beth Accomando: You mentioned some of your influences where ‘60s sci-fi and specifically there were TV shows like Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, so talk a little bit about the influences you had in creating this. Isaac Ezban: Yes, well, I really like the psychological part of sci-fi, when sci-fi or old model element is used, that’s a metaphor to look about the very human element, I mean it might sound strange, but it’s actually pretty – contradictory saying to use a fantastic element to talk about the very human element, but that’s what a Twilight Zone used to do, the Twilight Zone had these great stories, so I know somebody who lost his job and then he finds the devil, I mean it’s like a very realistic thing, a very human thing, fantastic element started to use as a metaphor to that. So, I really grow up watching twilight zone, I know I didn’t grow up in the ’60s, I actually grow up in ’90s, but I use to watch it in the TV and then I bought all the DVDs and actually used to watch one episode every night before going to bed, not only Twilight Zone, but like Outer Limits, the good fans of sci-fi need to know that sci-fi doesn’t stay in the TV – it is not only in cinema and books and comics, [indiscernible] [01:02:58] writers like [indiscernible] [01:02:59], Ray Bradbury, [indiscernible] [01:03:02], Stephen King, and even some modern sci-fi features like Fringe and Lost and well I mentioned Identity which was a big influence as well, and some other movies like work of John Carpenter, The Thing was a big influence, obviously I love The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s movie, which I saw it after finishing The Similars, what I said, well, this is a film about eight people lost in by a storm in a contained environment, how am I not going to love that. So, yeah, those were some of my influences and I wanted to look at [indiscernible] [01:03:38], Twilight Zone and when I was writing the script, I said, well, maybe not all of my films are going to be such [indiscernible] [01:03:47] something like the Twilight Zone. Unidentified Speaker: You unlock this door with the key of imagination beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance of things and ideas, you’ve just crossed over into The Twilight Zone. Isaac Ezban: But I do know that this is the one that’s going to be the most, this is the one that is going to approach more to what a tribute is, so if I am going to do it, that go all the way, so I decided to have on the story, open and closing the film kind of like what telling… Unidentified Speaker: [foreign language] [01:04:32] Isaac Ezban: … and have the music kind of like music that Bernard Herrmann used to do Hitchcock films or for Twilight Zone, I decided to go all the way with all those element, but I do feel that I like filmmakers when they use their references but I think it’s also important to create something new with those references, so that’s what I try to do. I didn’t want it to look just like a copy homage [indiscernible] [01:05:07] my intention was to pick up those references and do something new with that, that’s what I wanted to do. Beth Accomando: Well, the thing that seems to be new is that well it is an homage to an America TV show, it has very uniquely Mexican qualities to it, can you talk a little bit about some of the elements that you used that maybe an American audience might not pick up on as readily as Mexican audience would? Isaac Ezban: Well, yes, of course, there is of course all the pop culture of Mexico in that period and I mean the film that was heard in the radio like [indiscernible] [01:05:47] which is actually a very modern dance, they play music like from the ‘60s, and there is the element -- they might have seen some of the pictures, they obviously show James Bond and Marilyn Monroe, which is people that American do know, but they also [indiscernible] [01:06:07] which is a few hours before the [indiscernible] [01:06:15] which is a very red spot in Mexico, social history where in beyond just took a little bit of context on that, you know how to fix these -- there was a lot of inconformity, not only Mexico actually but also it happened in France, in the US, in many countries all over the world where the youth people, the young society where doing revolts and in Mexico it happens pretty hard, especially because there were some revolts, made by students of the university for a lot of months in 1968 and the President [indiscernible] [01:06:50] at the Olympics were taking place in Mexico in October 1968, so he wanted to do something to sort all these manifestations, all these revolts and there was one revolt in [indiscernible] [01:07:05] like a plaza in Mexico, like a square, and suddenly the army opened fire and they killed a lot of students and it’s a big mess what happened actually some people remain missing until today, and like I didn’t want to make a political film or a film that talks about that night, because my cinema is more like a thriller entertaining, sci-fi film, I didn’t want to do like a political film, but I did want to do something that -- good sci-fi like those examples were mentioning, the Twilight Zone and those writers, I believe that good sci-fi always have political or social commentary behind. So I said, okay, what if I want to do that on Mexico, a classic example would be in the US it was in that period of the cold war, maybe we would see how US [indiscernible] [01:07:57] metaphor or devotions, or the nuclear fear or whatever, I said, what was happened in Mexico in the ’60s because we had no cold war or like that, I came up with of course [indiscernible] [01:08:12] was happening and then there was this speaking conformity of young people feeling that all authorities wanted us to be the same, they wanted all young people to feel the same all outdoor it is, I mean your work, your parents, the government, all. So I suddenly felt it would be a good idea to make a round movie where because of our paranormal element in the story, people actually start becoming the same in this context, so that's something -- that is a Mexican element, but some American audience might not understand, but I tell you what I’ve been surprised, these things [indiscernible] [01:08:51] big and so it was such a tragedy, a lot of people in world has heard about it and in the world premiere of the film Fantastic Fest which was in Austin, Texas in September last year, and one guy, completely American like grown up [indiscernible] [01:09:14] I’m surprised you decided to do a file with such a controversial date in Mexican history, it’s like somebody in America makes a film where eight people are lost in an airport trying to take a flight in 9/11, so I was surprised a lot of Americans and Europeans do know about the date, but I also think if you don’t know about it, you still can understand and like the movie. Beth Accomando: Yes, definitely. Talk about using a confined space and kind of trapping these characters in a tight location, because it does create this claustrophobia that’s really great, the tone is wonderful. Isaac Ezban: Oh, well, thank you so much, the confined stage was very important for me, I am huge fan of films that work in a confined space and I think it’s a huge challenge both for the writer and the director everyone behind the film, and also for the audience itself to be completely hooked and entertained, so I like challenges, I’ve done ambitious thing, I mean it might seem non-ambitious because it’s like okay, you don’t have faith what is the opposite learning that is the most ambitious because you have to use all your elements in that space, and I think it’s even harder to do a film like this than a film where you have a lot of spaces, like I said already, I love The Hateful Eight, lot of Twilight episodes were like here is the thing from John Carpenter, I just saw actually San Diego last week, 10 Clover Field Lane which is maybe is equal to Clover Field that I think it’s also confined piece and [indiscernible] [01:10:51] those movies when I see a great confined movie, I really love it because I know [indiscernible] [01:11:01] and in not all my movies I was going to be like that, but I want to try something like that. Beth Accomando: You have this confined space, you also talked about your score, you’re trying to kind of pay homages to Bernard Herrmann and you talked about how you were using kind of this minimal score which complements the location very well. Isaac Ezban: Yes, well, I don’t think it’s completely minimal, I think it’s contrasting, it has some beats maybe specially in the first 30 minutes of film where it is very minimal, but it doesn’t look like a score of a horror movie, it’s more like melodic, more like a Hollywood melodrama kind of score, but then when things starts getting darker and darker, I think the score becomes very big and loud, but it was intended like that, it’s a – well, I wanted the same composer who I worked with on the incident and I do believe that music is very important in film, music is very important to make you feel certain emotions. I know some directors would hate me saying that music making you feel something, I mean in compulsion with the images and all, I do like music that makes you feel something and I feel like nowadays music -- every time it’s less important in films like -- some films, I mean I am not talking independent, I mean even some big Hollywood films that can have budget to do a big score, the score looks like generic, and people are just -- it looks like the score of another movie and I sometimes wonder what happened with classic scores like John Williams, like what he did Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Star Wars, I mean you can still remember the music of that film twenty years after and you get the theatre theme, that score, and I feel like that essence has been lost, like in the last three years, so you had also been -- in which film, I mean some films are dramatic and then for a more realistic approach on the elements, on the plot, in those cases, sometimes some movies even have no music at all and it works perfectly fine, but for the kind of scene which I am doing at least at the moment and especially for a beat like this which was retro beats, attribute, everything is done like the 60s, the acting, the set, the camera movement, I felt like the music needed to be like that as well, so we work with Eddie Lang, who is a very good composer, he has done stuff in LA as well and Europe, and he looks like a big department of film, he took four months just composing, we’ve recorded the music with [indiscernible] [01:14:07] the movie is 89 minute long and it’s 71 with his music, so he said like man, it’s too much, but like I said in the beginning, maybe not all my films are going to be like this, but since this was very close to an attribute of that I want it to be like that and I feel it might sound like a lot of music in terms of minutes of running time of the film, well I think it works basically well with the film and it’s exactly what I had featured in my mind. Beth Accomando: And I think what I mean not so much minimal in terms of not having an impact, but you used not a lot of different instruments in creating the score, wasn’t that the case? Isaac Ezban: Yeah, that’s what I mean when I said it’s contrasting like it has some elements that the score is almost – it is very quiet, I meant some moment where it become huge, and that’s contrast is I think important in any score in any kind of movie, yeah. Beth Accomando: And this is your second film, you did another film called El Incidente and you’ve actually kind of tied the films together and interesting like -- can you comment about how you are kind of creating a universe for your movies? Isaac Ezban: Yes, well, I am not going to say exactly how we -- dream the end… Beth Accomando: Don’t give it away, but if you can kind of… Isaac Ezban: But, yeah, I really like filmmakers like Kevin Smith or like Tarantino does it as well or when writer like Stephen King – he mentioned [indiscernible] [01:15:47] and I want to start doing that with my films, so in the incident, there were a lot of thing that were explained, there was one thing that was not explained at last who created this incidents like this rule that the characters are living upon, and I can’t decide it to answer that question, Similars, would see who or what created the incident and maybe my third film I might use like a reference for The Similars and keep going like that, yeah, I do like the idea of -- I love references, I am one of those [indiscernible] [01:16:23] to get and every time I like a movie I go [indiscernible] [01:16:27], I connect everything, I am one of those guys who used to watch a lot with my friends, with the pen and a piece of paper writing theories about everything, I kind of want to create that in my films as well, like Universe where it connects with one thing and the other. Beth Accomando: Well, El Incidente could also fit into this [indiscernible] [01:16:47] kind of feel where it’s not the real world exactly and it creates this different kind of Universe and timeframe and everything. Isaac Ezban: Yeah, certainly. The films lay there luckier in the front section, I couldn’t go over there, they ask for a Raul Mendis was there for a film, but I couldn’t be there last year, yes, I completely agree it’s about that section as well. Beth Accomando: So, what’s it like for a filmmaker in Mexico now, is it easy or difficult to be a young independent filmmaker starting out? Isaac Ezban: Well, it’s always difficult they say, when I get this questions, I always say that it’s like a contradictory answer that I can tell you because it’s of course very hard, making a film I can tell you is the hardest job in the Universe because it’s perfectly creating a world and you have to make it believable, every film is like a big street and sometimes it’s just like you started as one person and you end like a different person, so it is very hard, at the same time, there is -- every time there are more support in Mexico especially we have a big support to make films like from Mexican Film Industry 80% of the films are funded by the state by France, and it’s not so easy to get them, but if you do get them, I mean it’s something that I see they don’t in another country say in Latin America or United States, I mean in the United States, the industry is much more spread like maybe the industry is more industry based or business based, but didn’t have a connection in the business to make a film, and I mean in Mexico, everything is smaller and it’s funded by the state especially in the last three years, there has been a lot of development in the support that the film -- can give you, I mean yeah, also internationally speaking, I mean in every level we see from Mexican filmmakers doing what’s called like art film and doing a large in turn to Mexican filmmakers in Hollywood Awards like the Oscars, which I know it’s not for a Mexican film, but it’s still a Mexican filmmakers which obviously help us in terms of image and I do think that Mexico is in golden era, beginning of golden era of cinema again, well, there is one problem which is people now go to a movie, the audience, I don’t know if you hear it, but the piece has just came out two weeks saying that -- last year, 2015, we broke the record in Mexico, the biggest year or film production in history of Mexico, which I think it was like 150 films produced in one year, before that, record was 147 in like 1950 something, like in the golden era of Mexican cinema, so almost after 70 years, we broke the record again, however, the next thing the statistic showed up of those films, only half of them saw a release in theaters, so which is a very ironic thing where we make a lot of films but sometimes not many of them are audience based like the industry has become director based, it’s only because of the way it’s funded. I think that, as in America, in Mexico what I would want is first of all look out more support of the exhibitors of a theatrical change of distributors, of the audience obviously to trust more Mexican films, but also I think it’s up to us, Mexican filmmakers, to make more films for the audience and not just for us, I mean I always try to do that, when I make a film obviously there are some [indiscernible] [01:20:51] but I always want it to be also for the audience. So, I try to be in a middle ground -- because the audience is who are eventually going to see it, and also for the genres in which I am working which is sci-fi and horror, I do believe that there is more opportunity in the States or somewhere else just for a genre, I also have some projects it’s like something over there as well. Beth Accomando: And do you feel that there is anything that ties together the new generation of filmmakers coming up, do you feel that some of the younger filmmakers are being a little more extreme or a little more fitting into this Un Mundo Extraño kind of thing or do you feel there is a wide variety of filmmaking going on this new… Isaac Ezban: I think there are some variety, there is many young people making films, that’s right, many more than before, because this grant that you can apply something not so well, something that has many thing years or little more, so before like in the ’80s or the ’90s, if you want to make a film and you were in Mexico, you need to have a lot of permission, get a lot money raised and for maybe 28 year old man wouldn’t be doing because it’s harder, also it’s not only Mexico, everywhere in the world, the camera every time it gets smaller and easier to work on which is why by the way creativity is every time more important because the elements to make a film are more accessible day to day than the creativity and the [indiscernible] [01:22:26] is more important, so nowadays there is more young people making films, but I will say there is wide a variety of people making a lot of kind of genres from very content [indiscernible] [01:22:39] drama to more commercial films like romantic comedy, action films, to genres -- which actually genre is very commercial in Mexico. So, there has been all kind of stuff going and then I do believe -- maybe there is a tendency to do things in a more open-minded way, so there is more genre of films every time, so like you were saying those are maybe the films that would fit into Un Mundo Extraño, so every time there is more genre of films being made, like for example, there was a film called Mexico Barbaro which I participated in as well, which -- it kind of the like -- there will be just what they call eight filmmakers work on the genre and they told horror legend from Mexico, that’s something that maybe wouldn’t have happened like 20 years ago. They say people are all like me, like I am just one of them and the other seven also working -- expected of the genre of films and they do these kind of stuff, so yeah, I do think that every time -- topic of there are more films and working on all kind of genres, so there are more drama… Beth Accomando: Oh, we actually had Mexican Barbaro Show here in San Diego at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, which was curated by Miguel Rodriguez who curated this Un Mundo Extraño, so that was great to see, and I enjoy genre of filmmaking and to me genre film making feels a little sometime especially with horror and sci-fi, it feels a little bit rebellious, so it’s always nice to see. Isaac Ezban: That’s right, it is rebellious and I think that’s why many young people are approaching in the genre, yeah. Beth Accomando: And can you talk it all about what you have coming next? Isaac Ezban: Yes, well, actually I had a pretty good luck in the way that’s when I filmed the incident, I always had the funding to The Similars, because the incident was funded privately, from private investors, but for The Similars we applied for funding at the Mexico Film Institute – because we raised two films into such different ways, they were almost at the same time, I just shot The Similars seven months after the incident which is great because no one – they say Mexico, a lot of people make efforts – but the gap between the first and second it’s always longer, and for me apparently maybe the gap will be more between the second and the third, there is going to be like a big gap luckily I have many projects incoming, but it’s not like last week as when I did the Incident six months later I was shooting a film right, now I have a – as a director it’s always very important to have many projects in development, because projects take a little time to -- projects have many stages, maybe one project in pre-production or in the editing or there is distribution process. So, I currently have two screenplays which I am developing in Mexico, hopefully this year or next year, I also have two screenplays which I am developing to go in English spoken in States hopefully next year as well. There is also one screenplay where I am attached as a director which is not a screenplay written by me, so that will be like my first work which is something I am excited about, which is like approaching someone else’s story and this is also in the States, it is also something I go do it by an agent or manager and if all runs smoothly and I will be shooting this year in the summer. I also have an independent that I shoot in Mexico in the end of the year and I am also part of anthology kind of like a Mexico Barbaro for science-fiction made by 12 directors, which we’re doing in Mexico this year. So, I’m not attached to all of those, you know whatever happens first, hopefully, all of them will happen, maybe not all of them will happen within the launch of one year because that is physically impossible, but maybe where I just have way of moving forward, eventually all of them will happen hopefully. Beth Accomando: Well, you sound like you’re potentially very busy there. Isaac Ezban: I am, I work and being busy because I like making films. Beth Accomando: Can you remind me which segment you had done in Mexican Barbaros? Isaac Ezban: Well, yeah, I did the segment number four called [indiscernible] [01:26:55] which it like the Mexican version of the Goblin or the Troll, which is the one about couple of young people that go to the woods because she wants to lose her virginity in a cabin and she does loses her virginity but with the goblin, you remember that? Beth Accomando: Yes, very clearly. Since you’re doing anthology kind of a science-fiction anthology, when did you enjoy that process of kind of working with a group of filmmakers where you’re all creating kind of your own little chapters? Isaac Ezban: Oh, yeah, I enjoy it a lot, I think it’s interesting that it’s a film that was not funded by any big company or big -- it was basically just eight people who we all want to make films and we decided to do it, right, even obviously but like any anthology, I mean anthologies are always kind of uneven just because there is maybe many different directors with different styles, so I think I really like anthology like which is so bad or BHF [indiscernible] [01:28:04] anthology where led director with longer segments which like more time for directors to develop history, Mexico I know it was very good, I mean now that you recall my segment, it’s actually pretty different and the incident which was at the moment my most subtle film, I mean The Incident is subtle at all, I mean people [indiscernible] [01:28:30], but however, it is subtle if you compare it to the rest of my work. So, I was just coming out of doing what is my most subtle film The Incident and then they invite me to Mexico Barbaros, I was like okay I need to go crazy now, and that’s why I came up with this story of the Hallucious and it’s also pretty fun, they called us to do Mexico Barbaro, they called eight crazy guys like me and they told each of them okay, there is no censorship, all of you have to do something crazy, so imagining eight people each of them trying to be crazy than the other seven, I think it’s a pretty interesting weird film and I really like it. Beth Accomando: Yeah, I enjoyed it too, and then I enjoyed the -- even though all of them tried to extreme, they are very different from each other in the choices that they make, but I will say that your piece like your other two feature films does kind of work within a confined space as well. Isaac Ezban: Well, it does maybe right in the cabin, right. [Indiscernible] [01:29:36] I think it is yeah. Beth Accomando: Well, I want to thank you very much for your time and I really look forward to whatever you create next, so hopefully, we’ll be speaking again. Isaac Ezban: Well, thank you so much and yeah thank you for the interview, and for giving me all these long space, and yeah, just want to say to everyone who is listening, thank you so much for being interested in my work and yeah, let’s keep in touch, I mean you can follow me in Twitter Isaac Ezban just like my name altogether and there you can see more information of films and also when podcast is up there, please send it to me, so we can also share it in the social networks of the film, and let’s keep in touch and thank you for everything. Beth Accomando: Yes, thank you very much and best of luck to you. Isaac Ezban: Thank you so much. Beth Accomando: Thanks for listening to another edition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and I’d love to hear your comments and get reviews. You can also find archives of the podcast at So till our next film fix, I am Beth Accomando, your resident Cinema Junkie.

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Cinema Junkie speaks with a veteran filmmaker and a newcomer whose works were featured in this month's San Diego Latino Film Festival.

The San Diego Latino Film Festival, which wrapped up on March 20, featured films by veteran director Arturo Ripstein and newcomer Isaac Ezban.

Ripstein's latest, "Bleak Street," reveals a master at the top of his form and a filmmaker who still has a fire in his belly to say something in bold cinematic terms. Ezban came to the festival to present his second film, "Los Parecidos (The Similars)."

Ripstein grew up on his father's film sets and began his career under Luis Buñuel's tutelage. A third generation Mexican of Polish and Russian Jewish descent, he came of age with Mexican melodramas, some of which were produced by his father Alfredo Ripstein, Jr. But when his father took him as a teeneager to see Buñuel's "Nazarin," an experimental film about the misadventures of a Catholic priest, Ripstein realized that film could be something else. He went on to spend his career working outside the realm of conventional expectations.

Ripstein said that he has had to compete for theater space with Hollywood films in Mexico, and that those movies turn filmmakers outsiders in their own country.

The great poster art for Isaac Ezban's sci-fi film "Los Parecidos (The Similars)." The film played at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.
Caminante Films
The great poster art for Isaac Ezban's sci-fi film "Los Parecidos (The Similars)." The film played at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

It's the same case for Ezban, who was influenced by American pop culture when he was growing up. Still, Ezban injects his work with a distinctly Mexican personality. His latest, "Los Parecidos," is a sci-fi film that pays homage to "The Twilight Zone." While "Los Parecidos" uses a format similar to "The Twilight Zone," it references historical events in Mexico, such as the 1968 student demonstration that ended in violence at La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco, Mexico City.

This podcast features Cinema Junkie's conversation with Ezban right after the film festival and an archive interview with Ripstein from 2000 at his parents' home in La Jolla. Listen to the episode "Extreme Latin Cinema" here.