If the film world ever achieved something like a rock n’ roll supergroup, it would look a bit like the lineup of directors for Guillermo Arriaga’s omnibus brainchild, Words With Gods. If the name sounds familiar to you, that’s because Arriaga wrote the screenplays for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s acclaimed trilogy consisting of Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel — along with a handful of other films — before setting off on his own with his directorial debut El búfalo de la noche.
But that’s just the beginning. Featuring nine shorts by nine different directors and representing diverse religions ranging from Judaism to aboriginal spirituality, Words With Gods is an exploration of man’s complex relationship with the divine and that peculiar phenomenon we call faith. In addition to Arriaga, directors include Argentine-Brazilian Hector Babenco (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and infamous Spanish genre director (and Pedro Almodovar protégé) Alex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus), along with other film superstars from around the world.
Scored by Phil Collins of Genesis fame, and curated by Nobel-Prize winning Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, there’s no question Arriaga was shooting for the stars with this project. Judging from the trailer, Words With Gods looks kind of like a mix between Babel and an inspirational UNESCO promo video. There are disturbances in the Middle East, Hindu religious festivals, pretty children, breathtaking landscapes, and a couple of handguns thrown in for good measure. While we’ve got to give Arriaga props for the idea, let’s hope its not just another corny, “Heal The World” type feel-good movie. He’s certainly put together an A-list team, now let’s see if they were up to the task.
Words With Gods premiered over the weekend at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.