INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER JESÚS TORRES TORRES

EN LA LUZ  DEL SOL BRILLANTE

a film by Jesús Torres Torres

How did you fall in love with Cinema?

Interestingly enough I fell in love with cinema by way of television. As a child I saw a lot of films on TV, especially in the afternoons. Instead of watching cartoons, I’d watch Mexican movies, transmitted exclusively on television. This was my first exposure to cinema, viewed on the “small screen,” in a very fragmented way, since the broadcasts were often interrupted by a lot of commercials. Then, when I went to the movie theater, the impact of these images was much greater. But I was already a fan by then, I had the taste for drama and Mexian melodrama, embbeded at the core of my being.

What inspired you to make En La Luz del Sol Brillante?

My fascination for the stories shown on television, including the TV programs inspired by NorthAmerican westerns: The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West. And of course the cowboy movies, Mexican-style cowboy movies, (the famous Chiliwesterns), filmed in the 50 ‘s and 60’s. These programs only added to the pleasures I already experienced as a child from the radio programs my dad listened to: El Ojo De Vidrio (Glass Eye), Chucho El Roto, etc.  These  dramas, TV programs and movies all spoke of a lonely man who rode in the desert prairies, and whose only interest was to administer justice. As a teengaer, this archetypal character really caught my attention… All of these stories took place in a completely masculine world. The man, this hero, almost never showed interest in women.  In fact, most of the time,  his only partner, or sidekick, was another man, who was usually younger. Of course, this analysis came later, when I began to see and study the Western classics: John Ford, William Wellman, Budd Boetticher, all the filmakers responsible for establishing the Western as a genre. This is when I realized how homoeroticcally charged these dramas actually were. Films such as Howard Hawks‘s Red River andEdward Dmytryk’s Warlock makes this failry clear. So I decided to write a story enveloped within the world of the Western, where sexual attraction and physical contact between these male characters is not only explicit, but ocurrs naturally, spontaneously.

When I saw your movie, I immediately thought of several other artists. I thought of Fassbinder’s films and the melodramas by Douglas Sirk. And in the Mexican context, Tiempo De Morir by Arturo Ripstein and of course, Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. How aware were you of these influences? Or are there perhaps other more important ones?

Ripstein’s Tiempo De Morir, along with Buñel’s Nazarin made me realize at a very early age that film was more than just entertainment. I remember I saw both of them alone, in secret, late at night, with the volume low so as not to wake anyone up, and that I was completely disturbed. Shortly afterwards I saw an interview, also on television, with Arturo Ripstein where he talked about filmmaking in general and his films in particular. I think it was at that moment  that I wanted to devote myself to the cinema: not only as a viewer, but as as a participant … So I’m sure that there’s more of Tiempo De Moririn my film than I’m aware of. In terms of Fassbinder, I had already seen some of his movies.  And I was reading one of his biographies and discovering his early works at the time I was gettig ready to shoot my film. So some of his influence must have slipped in to my own work. With regards to Sirk, this reference surprises me the most. At the time, I had only watched Written In The Wind, and I really liked it. I admire Juan Rulfo’s photographic work, whose atmosphere is very similar the ones found in his stories. But I’ve never thought about this as a direct influnce, yet there must also be a little Rulfo somewhere in there  … However, all these influences are mostly unconscious ones. Other references had a more conscious impact. There are two films in particular, one is Shane by George Stevens, and the other is My Darling Clementine by John Ford. Shane, apart from being a landmark of the Western genre, is one of my all time favorite films. I wanted the story of En La Luz Del Sol Brillante to serve as a kind of continuation  of the character of the child in Shane. The boy sees the man arrive with enthusiasm and then,  with tears in his eyes, he sees this man who has become his hero, depart. Imagine that this child has now grown up, and has began to search for the man who left, shouting his name and asking him to return.  In a way, Sebastian’s character (the young one) is looking for Shane, his Shane, his ideal man. Meanwhile, I almost stole the end from My Darling Clementine. Well, I combined the end of Shane with the end of John Ford’s film. I’m a big, big fan of John Ford. I think  I saw more of Ford’s films than anyone elses just before I started shooting En La Luz Del Sol Brillante.

How was your film received? Was it a challenge dealing so explicitly with the homoeroticism in the context of Mexican cinema and contemporary Mexican culture?

I think the film’s done very well for being an independent production (although I received great support from National Fund for Culture and Arts, Festival MIX, and Kodak, and the valuable collaboration of MIL NUBES-CINE and many friends) It screened at many festivals in Europe and South America. And, generally, the response in these screenings was extremely positive. I’m always very surprised when someone comes to tell me that they liked it.

With regards to the challenge of dealing with homoeroticism in Mexican culture, the truth is that I I didn’t face any problems. I think even the juries of the competitions we won, while we were still develping the project, were attracted to how we handled the the sexual aspect.  I remember attending a screening at  a festival in a very conservative Mexican city. The audiences was made up of a lot of young people, and I expected there to be lots of mocking whistles and hizzes during the sexual encounter in the film. But to my astonishment, throughout the entire screening the theater was completely silent. And at the end, the audience asked me a lot of questions, but none of the comments were derogatory.

What was the hardest part about making this film?

Undoubtedly, I think the post-production. It was a road full of obstacles and problems, which were enhanced by my great ignorance in the process.

What do you like most about En La Luz Del Sol Brillante?

What I liked most was was actually getting a chance to make it. Writing and producing this film was very enjoyable…Making it with a group of friends, who are also great professionals, meant that I could do my job as a first-time director, with a lot more confidence and peace of mind.We shot it in familiar places, places I lived in during the first years of my childhood. So the shoot was very harmonious and happy, at least that’s my perception, maybe the rest of the team has a different opinion, hehe … Some of my best memories come from that time. As to the final outcome, whether the film is good or bad, everyone will have a different view on the matter, which is certainly within their rights.

Any plans to make a feature?

Yes, I’m in the process of writing a feature screenplay. It is a melodrama with great similiarites to the Western genre, a story that happens in the Mexican provinces of the 70’s. A woman and her young son try to evade their gray life, through the soap operas and movies transmited on their television … I hope I can make it someday.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Only to express my excitement that En La Luz Del Sol Brillantewill be seen over the internet, I think this will help it reach a much wider audience than it has already had a chance to do… And I’d like to thank The Standard Print for making this happen.