Diego Luna made a triumphant return to the Sundance Film Festival this year with his fourth feature film as a director. Featuring a road trip to a lush Puerto Vallarta beach and starring Maya Rudolph, Danny Glover, and an enormous hog, Mr Pig is a touching portrait of a regretful father reconnecting with his daughter. During the lead up to the film’s premiere on Tuesday night, the director and cast took Sundance stages by storm. From an afternoon panel hosted by Indiewire to the Q&A following Mr Pig‘s first public screening, Diego, Maya, and Danny shared the inspiration for the story, their love of pigs and Mexico, and the freedom they got from shooting the film in chronological order. At one point during the Mr Pig premiere, Danny Glover was moved to tears when talking about the film shoot and the true connection he felt to Maya, who played his daughter. Many audience members in the packed theater wiped away tears too.
Here are some highlights from the day’s activities.
Diego On How Mr Pig Is a Love Letter to His Father
“We set a rule at the beginning: we are not going to impose a reality, we’re not going to talk about a Mexico that only exists in our heads.”
It’s the story of an American farmer that decides to smuggle into Mexico an illegal pig, and tries to find a better home for him, a better future, a place where he can be free. I would love to say undocumented [pig] but since we are in the States, I am going to use the word illegal. It’s not legal to cross a pig here, it has to stay 40 days at the border, they have to check him — this is the Mexican government — so he just crosses with this pig, trying to find a home for him. Then, he is joined by his daughter and it becomes a journey of a father and daughter reconnecting. It’s a love letter to my father and to my country, too.
Diego On Why He Chose a Pig to Be the Center of This Story
I liked the idea of a man who couldn’t be the father that he wanted to be. But, then you see his relationship with pigs and it’s so profound and unique. It’s all about love, it’s all about understanding, it’s all about listening — and he can be the father that he should have been to his daughter to the pigs.
Diego On Casting a Pig
The pig was a problem. I wanted to be authentic and cast an American pig, but American pigs are not allowed to go to Mexico even though they would love it, I think. I had to cast a Mexican and teach him how to play an American. It took two months of training. Do you think he looked American? [crowd laughs] But I was lucky, even the pig was perfectly cast.. and uh… I need to shut up. [crowd laughs even more]
Diego On the Pig’s Enormous Assets
[The pig] It’s enormous and it has the biggest balls you’ve ever seen. He’s a breeder. He’s worth a lot of money because of what’s inside of those huge bags.
Maya On Her Love of Mexico
I don’t know why, but I’ve always been in love with Mexico. I don’t have a reason for it. I’m from Southern California, so maybe I feel intrinsically connected. I mean, they used to be attached. But I’ve always felt connected, and I was blown away that I was invited to have this opportunity because this was something that I really wanted. It wasn’t just, “Hey, do you want to go to Mexico?” It was, “Come to Mexico with Mexicans that know where the fuck they’re going and what to do,” and I realized this is what I’ve always wanted.
Diego On Rewriting the Script After His Road Trip Through Mexico
It’s the freest project I’ve ever been part of. We set a rule at the beginning: we are not going to impose a reality, we’re not going to talk about a Mexico that only exists in our heads. We’re going to go and shoot a reality and allow these characters to be affected by this reality. It’s nothing we can control and we had to be patient. We had to go out and find it. We did the last rewrite — we took a trip: the co-writer, myself and the DP, the AD, the producer. We did this trip and stopped and thought about, “Ok. That scene can happen here. That guy there, what is he doing?” We decide to go talk to him and see that he’s selling goats in the street. So we say, “Well, Mr. Pig can sit there and and sell his pig.” It all came from something that we found and I think that is what is fantastic about this film.