North America’s Directors on How Filmmaking Can Tear Down Border Walls

'Soy Nero'

The goal of the Los Cabos International Film Festival is to build relationships across the Mexico, US, and Canadian borders. This mission is important now more than ever as nationalism is on the rise across the world, and threatens to keep artists from learning from one another, and sharing their work with audiences that perhaps wouldn’t have access it otherwise.

In order to stay true that mission, Los Cabos Film Festival provides support services like grants and networking opportunities for directors and producers, and free screenings for local audiences, who are then able to talk to the filmmakers who are behind the works they are seeing. The festival seems intent in not only keeping avenues of communication open, but also nourishing and inspiring the next generation of North American directors.

During Q&As it’s not uncommon to hear producers mention how the festival had a role in their project’s development in some way. Filmmakers often provide behind-the-scenes examples of how they had to creatively problem-solve due to a limited budget. Actors and actresses spend a few extra minutes by the concession stand chatting with fans about their work. Festival programmers understand that building lasting relationships requires time, effort, patience, and access.

Here are some things the directors competing in the Los Cabos section had to say about the importance of communication, interconnectedness, and storytelling.

Read the rest of our coverage of the Los Cabos International Film Festival here.

Matthew Johnson On Why Mexicans and Canadians Have a Special Perspective to Tell US-Based Stories 

Director of Operation Avalanche (Canada): In terms of the story, I think it was important that we were Canadians telling… If you don’t know, [the film] it’s about the CIA faking the moon landing. That’s the point of the movie. I think being Canadians and not Americans gave us a great perspective on American history in a way that we weren’t precious about it, and that we could just use what we wanted and change facts because we weren’t dealing with our own history. And I think that’s something that Canada and Mexico actually has a great opportunity to do in terms of storytelling. Because we’re so close to the United States both geographically and politically we have a perspective on that country that they just cannot have because they’re in it, and I think it’s not our responsibility but it is worth looking at how we can tell stories about America that are important and need to be told, but from the perspective of outsiders and so I’m encouraged to see especially given the new political climate how an outside perspective on the American dream is told by people like us, people in this room.

Rafi Pitts On How Border Walls Are Nothing New & Fighting the Walls Inside People’s Minds

Director of Soy Nero (Mexico/Germany/France): Well, sometimes I feel like I’m in a walking nightmare because I think as a filmmaker you don’t calculate, you don’t know what the future is going to bring but you feel what’s going on somehow. And you reflect upon it and how you feel towards it, and then you express the feelings that you have. So it sometimes coincides with time, which you hope when you’re making it and in the case of this story you hope you’re pulling an alarm on a situation that your fellow man is facing, that’s what you hope. And then all of a sudden you feel like you’re too late because there it is. The monsters are already there. When I say the monsters, there’s Trump but there are so many Trumps. Brexit was Trump. In France, we have Marine Le Pen. There’s all these extremes that are gaining a lot of power. And these borders which are crazy really, when you think about the Mexican-US wall, the beginning of it that nobody talks about was in 1994 — five years after the Berlin Wall came down — in Tijuana. That’s the beginning of this wall idea. Then, after 9/11 and the Patriot Act the wall began [again]. And what I find worse is that the walls are in people’s heads because of the simplification, because of the barriers. At the end of the day, even the Berlin Wall proved this, if you want to cross the wall you cross it. No wall has stopped anybody from crossing it. So for me it’s [about] taking away the walls, especially the walls in the minds of people because they are much more dangerous and Trump encourages those walls.

Amat Escalante On How Mexican Directors Are Expected to Head to Hollywood

Director of La Región Salvaje (Mexico/Denmark): Mexico is in an interesting position because it’s so close to the US. So it’s not for no reason that Mexican filmmakers have gone there, and have had a lot of success. It’s something that has affected the whole Mexican film industry, personally, for each filmmaker, but also the public. For example, yesterday at the Q&A, they all thought it was so weird that I was still in Mexico, right? That’s strange for them, they would say, “Thank you for not leaving.” Things like that. This place that’s next to us, is very powerful, and takes filmmakers from here. And that has been something that motivates you because it makes you more ambitious when you see that a Mexican filmmaker who came from some Mexican city, whether that’s Guadalajara like Guillermo del Toro or Iñárritu from DF, but 100% Mexican people who become the most important filmmakers in the US. Whether you want to or not, psychologically that does have a… it’s going to have an effect on generations here in Mexico for sure, I think. Whether you like it or not or you criticize it or etc. That’s it.