Chronicle of the Times: Interview with Everardo GonzálezBy: Gabriela Martínez @GabbMartivel
The documentary Devil’s Freedom (2017, dir. Everardo González) was one of the winning films at Impulso Morelia 2016 at Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) and was presented during the 15th FICM.
Devil’s Freedom is a film that addresses violence through interviews with victims and victimizers. Through testimonies of people whose faces are masked, their fears and their relationship with the indifferent society are known.
In an interview for FICM, Everardo González talked about his work as a documentary filmmaker and the role played by Impulso Morelia in the production of Devil’s Freedom.
What does the phrase “The abyss also gazes into you” mean for Devil’s Freedom?
It’s a quote from Nietzsche that makes us see that when we look too much at evil, we see the evil that we have ourselves and that is what Devil’s freedom is about. This movie is a mirror to see the evil we have as spectators and citizens.
How did winning Impulso Morelia 2016 influenced your movie?
When I heard that Impulso Morelia existed, I told to Roberto Garza, my producer, that being there would be better than being in the Official Selection because, somehow, the fact that a film is going well is circumstantial. Many times, the success of a film not only responds to it’s quality, but that it’s seen by the correct eyes and what Impulso Morelia offered was that, that the Devil’s Freedom was seen by the eyes that could impel it and it was. The premiere of the film in Berlin was the result of an event like this.
Impulso Morelia helped make the relevant eyes see the film and that’s why it was very important for us, even for someone like me who has been involved in this for 18 years. There is nothing written or ultraconsolidated, that is why festivals are so important, not only because they take us to a natural spectator for films, but because they make us visible for the market that wants us, that is interested. We are very grateful that it exists.
Do you consider that the perception of the documentary by the Mexican public has changed?
Yes. I remember my first screenings with four people, now they go up to 1500. Careers as relevant as Tatiana Huezo‘s, are also due to the progression that the gender has had in this country. Making a documentary is now a more dignified and comfortable space, but also deceptive because it puts us on the stage of competition, something very complicated. We documentarians record the tragedies of others, then you compete to know who made the best portrait of the tragedy.
Today the programmers of festivals take us into account, nevertheless it is necessary that the documentary be considered a relative more of the cinematography, tha also its photographic, sonorous, assembly merits be recognized too.
You mentioned that the documentarians portray the tragedy. Do you think there can be objectivity in those portraits?
No. On the contrary, I think that subjectivity is something that plays a lot in favor of the construction of stories. Objectivity is a straitjacket that does not allow narrative construction. Each person has a different perception of the world, because reality is not only what happens in front of the eyes, it is how it feels that you see or hear.
There are films that require more verification of many facts. Definitely, a great part of the value of the documentary today is that the most important thing is to considered the director’s point of view, that is why the authorial documentary is currently more appreciated, not necessarily the one that has an editorial commitment as it happened in the seventies and eighties in Mexico.
In the past, you have defined yourself as a chronicler rather than as a documentalist, why?
I like to feel on the side of people like the brothers Alva, Mayo or Casasola, whose mission was to register the image for posterity. I remember a lot that I had this restlessness when I started to film Los ladrones viejos (2007), I was wondering how Chucho el Roto would behave, and there was no record of that. That is why it was important for me to contribute to the permanence of the image, so that in the future the new generations will know how we talked, what our problems were or how we behaved. One of the nice things about cinema is to look at reality from the other.
I really like to see everyday life in movies, simple things that let me see something else. That’s what the documentary allows me to do: chronicle the times. I don’t know if I’m a chronicler, but I like to think so.
How do you build the characters in your stories?
I value if the person has a personality with the possibility of building a character, and that is where I appeal to the basic dramatic genres. A character with strong narrative premises, who knows he will be killed, for example, is a dramatic character. I try to analyze if it is possible to follow a character or instead, a plot or an event.
Do you have a filmmaker that you consider your influence?
I like Werner Herzog because his cinema is an exercise in iron will, he is someone unstoppable who has a vital need to make films beyond success or failure and for me that is a genuine filmmaker.