Joshua Gil brings to the Latin American Competition a poetic and rude perspective on human soul and its fears. Nature and the characters complement and modify each other, in a deep story whose protagonist is a man in his final days, determined to shoot his own story. In this race against time, adversities and death, Evilnessis built, and comes to the Festival with the fierceness of sharp and unforgettable films.
Where did the idea for your debut film come from?
I met Rafael –the film’s protagonist- in 2006. Even though we are blood relatives and we met when I was very little, I only saw him again 25 years later, due to a family conficlt. In that second meeting, he told me the story that is the base of Evilness. He confessed me he had written a script and wanted to make a film with it and gave me a copy. He was always very much like a peasant, he devoted his life to the land and music –he never studied- so the fact that he had tried to write "something” with the structure of a script took me by surprise.
The script he gave me had twelve pages written in his old typewriter, and each page had a song that built the film’s story: a heartbreak dramatic film –as he called it-, organized as a "musical”. Those same songs are played by him in certain parts of Evilness. He wanted me to help him make his film, so I found a way of working on a story inspired by him, thus creating a docu-fiction.
In your film, evilness can be related to several things, his wife’s abandonment, the State’s neglect, the killing of animals, the desolate place that seems to have forgotten its inhabitants, betrayal. How did you work from the script these multiple layers of meaning?
It has to do with a great need to shoot what can’t be seen, what’s invisible to the eye. Regarding all the themes and characters of Evilness, the order of apparition responds to certain concerns I’ve had for quite some time: friendship, death, loneliness, economic ruin, despair and love. At the same time, they are universal themes, specially the economic one. I think in this close relationship we young people have with the elders, of both being afraid of what may come, we fear employment instability and they fear death.
However, the evilness I "evoke” in the film is a process, is the character’s raison d'être, and the result is omitted actions and unspoken words. Evilness is heard in the wind, seen in the characters’ eyes and tears. This causes Mother Nature to transform along the characters’ unexpected actions until evilness surrounds them in the form of sounds, wind and fire. Finally, the most powerful evilness appears, which is that suffered by Mexico, caused by its government. I started shooting with 30 pages of script and I moved on adding scenes with the crew and the actors, always with the same premise.
The protagonist is a very interesting and complex character, and you show him as a terribly cruel person. Which elements did you have in mind to create him?
The entire production design, the crew and part of the script were intended for the protagonist to act as naturally as possible, without this being too comfortable for him. That is, almost without him realizing we were making a movie, I induced actions or dialogues. Several years ago, Rafa went completely deaf, so I gave him all the instructions written in small netbooks I still keep: walking, eating, giving his opinion on something. For more complicated instructions, we had to make up other methods that didn’t disturb him and that didn’t force him to do or say something not true to his nature. The fatigue or the anger in his face were his real body reactions. I always felt that Rafael was charmed by the camera, which made him ignore it or never look at it. At the same time, a mutual love between him the crew grew, which is revealed in natural and pleasant scenes.
It is very striking how you work with the theme of death, linked with the time we have left: a man who dreams of making a film, in the final moments of his life. How did you work with that peculiarity and metalanguage: you making a film as a fulfilled desire?
My father is a doctor, he always talked to me about death as a natural, sudden and inevitable thing. This led me to think and put into practice concepts I learned back then and to control my emotions regarding someone’s loss. Years later, and a few months before shooting, Rafa got diagnosed with terminal cancer. He wasn’t very aware of his situation, which was good, he was usually feeling good, both physically and spiritually. He was going to die soon –and, sooner or later, I would die too, I thought- so, despite I didn’t have enough money, no support from IMCINE or the State, and with his health deteriorating every day, I made the decision of shooting the story which, in the end, would talk about the very same thing: the pressure of making a film before dying. That aim and our relationship made us even closer. I always thought Rafa had his own idea of the film we were making, and I saw him enjoying it. Unfortunately, he never got to see it finished, he died a few months after shooting.
The protagonists are your grandparents, maternal and paternal. What was the experience of making this fictionalized documentary with them?
I feel very lucky to have worked with them. The film exists thanks to them and their love to the project, and probably their love to me. Our relationship was revealed the very same day of the premiere in Berlin. I didn’t want people to think that it’s a "tribute” film or a "local” story in the director’s world. I think the story is solid and interesting enough to exist on its own, so there’s no need to justify its existence with the blood relationship. Thus, I can give credit to Rafael, who finally managed to make a film, his desire for so many years. On the other hand, Don Ray –my mother’s father-, the co-protagonist, decided to back me up on the project, since Rafa didn’t have any friends in real life and I needed someone he could talk to and engage in conversations with. There was a small but significant relationship as the result of the union of two families and, in the end, it was perfect for showing the friendship universe I needed to show and, at the same time, for ending up in Evilnees.
SAT 31, 1.10 pm, CIN 1
SAT 31, 9.40 pm, CIN 1
SUN 1, 1.10 pm, CIN 1