Director Antonio Mendez Esparza hopes that audiences come to experience his film "without knowing much." "Those were some of my best experiences in the cinema," he says. Though at the film's core, Esparza allows, "is a story about hope, and the memories and loss of what we leave behind. It is the story of Pedro, who returns home [to Mexico], after having been working for a few years in the US." Born in Madrid, Esparza himself lived in the U.S. for nearly nine years, graduating from Columbia's MFA program before traveling to Mexico to make the film.
READ MORE: CANNES REVIEW: Cannes Critics' Week Winner 'Aqui y Alla' Establishes Antonio Mendez Esparza as a New Directing Talent
What were the film's greatest challenges?
"It was a beautiful project, but also a extremely tough and demanding one. There were many, but all of them were part of the project, like being part of the community we were gonna film in, trying to capture 'reality", more to "recreate it.' Having the trust of the actors, was a key challenge, but once they were on, which was early on, it was there for the rest of the film."
What should we take from this film?
"A feeling of familiarity, of an unknown familiarity with the characters. Of understanding, and even more, of certain admiration. I hope they fall in love with the characters."
Any particular inspirations in making this piece?
"Firstly the real people interpreting the characters. The people, the locations, everything in Guerrero - the part of Mexico where the film happens. I was inspired, by filmmakers, that while I was making the film, had made films with low budgets, reduced crews, and for me, outstanding, Pedro Costa was a referent, but also other filmmakers younger, who using any camera make a film."
Anything in the pipeline?
"I have a new project, about a mother and a son that in my mind is closely related to this one. It will take place between Spain and Brazil. And as I am Spanish, and little superstitious, cant tell much about it."
Indiewire invited AFI FEST competition directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival. Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.