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Int: Alfonso Cuarón


Alfonso Cuarón, the Mexican director of Y Tu Mamá También puts his heart in what he loves and he can prove it. Duck Season, the first feature film directed by the young Mexican newcomer Fernando Eimbcke will be on theaters on Friday because of Cuaron’s love.

When he first watched this little movie at Cannes Film Festival three years ago, the veteran director became an enthusiastic fan of Eimbcke. The praise of critics around the world and many awards, including 11 Ariel Awards (the Mexican Oscar) proved that Cuaron wasn’t the only one. But when the time came to look for a distributor in the USA, Eimbcke wasn’t able to find anybody ready for it. A small movie, in Spanish, in black and white, directed by an unknown young director telling the story of two teenagers, a girl and a thirty something apparently spending time doing nothing in an apartment, was a hard bet to sell. But Cuaron got involved in it, and everything changed. He funded Esperanto Productions with the only goal of distributing the movie in a country who has widely embrace Cuaron’ movies –among his titles there is a blockbuster, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and movies as different as Great Expectations and A Little Princess -, so he thought his name could help Eimbcke to open some doors. And it did, indeed. After Cuaron created Esperanto Productions to back up Duck Season, Warner Independent joined it with a co distribution deal.

In a recent round table with journalists in New York, Alfonso Cuaron explained why Duck Season “must be seen by as many people as possible” and why his country, Mexico, and his continent, Latin America, are giving us some of the best and most original movies of this decade, among other things.

Alfonso Cuarón

Q: Why did you decide to embrace Duck Season?
Alfonso Cuarón: When I saw it in Cannes I loved it immediately. I talked with Fernando, asked him if he needed any help and basically seemed that he had the whole operation in place: the festival circuit, some distribution deals… but later on they found obstacles to secure the release of the film in America and that’s why I got in. As a fan I wanted this movie to be seen.

Q: Why?
AC: It is just the type of film that I love the most: films that are about nothing but actually are about everything. Films in which apparently nothing happens but many things are happening and on the top of that… it is done in such an unpretentious way! It is a film that deals with so many different subject matters and profound things in such a way that makes everything to look easy and superficial, but it is not. I admire it for that.

Q: Did it remind you of your boyhood?
AC: Totally. This is the strength of the film. People say that comedy cannot travel because each culture has a specific way of laughing at things. That is true in conventional comedy but what Fernando does is probably not comedy, it is an ironic business, an ironic detachment. He is not making fun of the characters, he is observing human behavior with an ironic distance and that is where the humor comes from. It doesn’t belong to any country; it is universal.

Q: What is Esperanto exactly?
AC: I decided to create it in order to distribute Duck Season in the US. To be honest it was meant to be only to distribute this movie but if things work it will be an interesting venue to rescue orphans. The market here is so busy that sometimes cannot release amazing movies. And sometimes it has nothing to do with the topic of the film. It is not that they are obscure or more difficult movies it is just that the market is busy and they look for movies with recognizable names. So the ones that maybe don’t have those names or those faces they just need a hook and if someone finds that hook through Esperanto will be fantastic. It doesn’t matter the format or the language, what would matter is that the film exciting, beautiful, surprising.

Q: Are you planning to produce through Esperanto?
AC: I believe that, generally speaking, the people that are going to make it they don’t need you. And I am not in the business of producing. If I get involved in a project is because I want to see the film and the vision of the person that is going to do the film. But at the moment I am not thinking about producing.

Q: In the last few years we have seen a lot of Latin American good movies coming out of that continent. Whisky from Uruguay, La niña santa from Argentina… Battle in Heaven in Mexico… Why do you think this is happening now?

AC: I call it ‘the end of dictatorship’. It is true. In all of our countries, from Mexico, who has had the same party in power for over fifty years to almost every other country in the continent, we are just coming out of dictatorships. They kept Latin America as a really provincial place, because dictatorships try to keep everybody inside, looking inside the borders, and deny people the access to the world. The world was something that was not for little mice like us, Latin Americans… And what happens now is that there is a whole new generation than wants to regain the world. And cinema is just a projection of that. As far as Mexico, definitely there are great talents there right now. My favorite ones are Eimbcke and Carlos Reygadas, (Battle in Heaven). He is a visionary.

Q: Could you tell us something about your next project?
AC: It is a science-fiction type of movie, The Children of Men, but we will have time in the future to talk about it (it is expected to be released in September and Julianne Moore, Clive Owen and Michael Caine will be the leads…)

Q: What about Harry Potter, is it an experience that you want to repeat?
AC: Right now, I don’t. But I have to say that I spent the most beautiful two years of my life doing Harry Potter. Everything around Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, not the film franchise but the JL Rowlings product, is surrounded by very positive energy; it is fantastic to be around and associated with it. In the future, if I were invited to do it again I would consider it but I am not very good at repeating things that I’ve already done.

Warner Independent Pictures releases Duck Season
on March 10th (today!) in New York and Los Angeles with a wider release to occur in the weeks to come.

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