Somewhere in between his multiple commitments as an actor, Gael García Bernal has found the time to direct a new feature film, Chicuarotes, and as El País reports, the shoot recently concluded in Mexico City, more specifically in San Gregorio Atlapulco, which is a culturally unique part of the city’s Xochimilco disitrict.
Written by Augusto Mendoza, who’s worked with Gael’s best bud Diego Luna on Abel and Mr. Pig, Gael’s sophomore effort is a dark comedy about two friends, “El Cagalera” (Benny Emmanuel) y “El Moloteco” (Gabriel Carbajal), living in this region of the Mexican metropolis and who believe they need to take drastic action in order to leave their life of economic hardships behind.
Back in September, the town of San Gregorio Atlapulco was one of the most affected by the massive earthquake that hit Mexico’s central region, which put the viability of the production at risk. Yet, it was important for the actor turned director to film it here because the story is intricately linked to this place and for him a film “sublimates life, and the fight we give to stay alive.” Gael also told journalists that the movie has a festive quality that derives from where it’s set, a town where, despite facing difficult problems, “la gente jala a la pachanga.”
Three years ago when he announced his intention to make another fiction film at a festival in Doha, Gael was sincere about his mostly unsuccessful debut, Deficit (2007), which had a lot of ideas about class and aimless youth, but not enough substance and craft. We are all glad he admits it.
If you are wondering what the title means, the colloquial term, “chicuarote,” is used in San Gregorio Atlapulco to refer to both a type of chili and to people who are stubborn. A recent MSN Mexico article recounts that some local townspeople are upset he used a word which they believe is property of those who live there and even contemplated a lawsuit.