Imagine a peaceful existence thrown suddenly and inexplicably into a state of violent upheaval. Now imagine a young woman forced to flee into the desert, wandering aimlessly through the vast expanse as the world burns around her. Sounds like an attractive premise for an allegorical arthouse film about a society devouring itself in violence and destruction, right? Well, that’s more or less exactly what happened to the residents of Monterrey a few years ago, when president Felipe Calderón’s guerra contra los narcos blew the lid off the state of Nuevo León’s uncertain peace.
But it’s also an attractive premise for an arthouse film, and it has emerged as something of an obsession for visual artist, filmmaker, and Monterrey native Rubén Gutiérrez, who’s currently raising funds for his first feature on the Mexican crowdfunding platform Fondeadora. After a long career as an internationally recognized artist, Gutiérrez premiered his first short film, Sickness of the Present, at the Cannes Short Film Corner last year. Though it was shot in Finland, Sickness followed a very similar narrative arc, as a writer seeks refuge in the wilderness following an inexplicable eruption of violence.
The new feature, Piérdete entre los muertos, follows the heroine into the desert, where she stumbles across an older man buried up to his neck in sand. Unable to dig him out, the young woman is treated to a story about a mythical place where all questions are answered. It’s a pretty heady premise, and may recall the symbolism of works like Simón del desierto and other mid-career masterpieces by Luis Buñuel. Gutiérrez himself cites the French New Wave and sexploitation master Russ Meyer as influences, something evident in the teaser’s deliberate portrayal of breasts, legs, and blood.
The unsettling teaser also gives us an idea of the tone Gutiérrez has set out to achieve, as well as his evocative use of a single, fixed camera angle, off-screen space, and jarring jump cuts. The post-apocalyptic baseball bat covered in nails and barbed wire – along with the humming, ambient soundtrack – will no doubt give you some good ol’ fashioned escalofríos.
Gutiérrez has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 MXN, which translates to about $6,400 USD – a modest sum that can be easily met with the help of a handful of Latin American film fans like you and me. Plus, Gutiérrez is offering some pretty attractive perks, including original artwork by some of his big-time artist buddies and a producer credit for donations over $640.
So open your heart and your wallet, then tell your friends you helped produce the next Latin American masterpiece.