Toronto: Mexico’s Alonso Ruizpalacios on ‘Museo,’ Francois Truffaut, Play
Scoring a 2018 Berlin Silver Bear for best screenplay and some rave reviews – Variety called it “gorgeous, giddy shaggy-dog movie” – Mexican Alfonso Ruizpalacios’ “Museo,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal, now segues to Toronto for its North American premiere before its U.S. commercial bow in New York, via Vitagraph Films, on Sept. 14.
Ruizpalacios’ follow-up to 2014’s “Gueros,” a Berlin best first feature winner, “Museo” is inspired by one of Mexico’s most notorious heists: the Christmas Eve 1985 robbery of 140 priceless Mayan and Meso-American pieces from Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum, stolen by two veterinary school faculty drop-outs: Juan and sidekick Wilson in the film. Ruizpalacios talked to Variety about the film .
“Museo” has been taken as the story of a son, Juan, (Garcia Bernal), who misguidedly tries to impress his father by pulling off a movie-style robbery. But maybe I’m wrong.
I tend to side with what Wilson says at the beginning of the film: That we can’t really know the motives of people in history. We can only guess from their actions. Digging deeper into the story, we couldn’t find a motive for the [real-life] heist. We ended up embracing that. It became one of the film’s keys.Related
The film comes across as a playful tragedy. Why such playfulfulness?
At Berlin, I quoted Francois Truffaut – I talk to him in my mind, love his films, everything about him – to the effect that there are two types of film – those reflecting the agony of making a film, and those that reflect its sheer joy. My two belong to the second category. I trained in theater, always loved the concept of play.
After Mexicans have been attacked by President Donald Trump, “Museo” sounds a note of pride at least about some things in Mexico.
When shooting “Museo,” I was constantly thinking about Mexican audiences. Their seeing the Anthropology Museum, for example. For my mind, it’s right up there next to Louvre and the British Museum. I wanted to do right by it, shooting the pieces up close, and letting people see them wonder where they came from, what they meant.
“Museo” looks like quite a big step up in scale compared to yor debut “Gueros.” Is one aim to make more impact at the Mexican box office?
We still haven’t fully convinced Mexicans that Mexican films are worth watching. But Cinepolis, the distributor, is going all in, opening “Museo” on 500 screens. “Gueros” had 50 screens.” So yes, it’s a big step-up.
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