The first part of a four-feature project, “Heartbeat of the World” and a one-of-a kind for the Mexican film industry, “Heartbeat” links director-screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (“The Burning Plain”), who originated the concept for “Heartbeat,” and Alex Garcia, the L.A.-based prexy of AG Studios, who produces with Argentina’s Lucas Akoskin and Arriaga.
Screening Nov. 14, “Words With Gods” will comprise the centerpiece gala screening of the festival, which runs Nov. 12-16. At the gala, Arriaga will receive Los Cabos’ Mexican Tribute award, fest director Alonso Aguilar-Castillo told Variety, confirming Los Cabos has been chasing the film for a year.
While Arriaga and Garcia are driving forces behind “Words With Gods,” an omnibus feature of nine short films, its directors could hardly be more far-ranging and international: Another attraction for Los Cabos.
Warwick Thornton (“Samson and Delilah”), for instance, focuses on Aboriginal spirituality in “True Gods” (pictured), shot in the desert near Palm Springs; Brazil-based Hector Babenco (“Kiss of the Spider Woman”) the Umbanda religion in Sao Paulo and Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) Hinduism in Mumbai.
Other directors also focus on their own religion or at least one with which they have a close connection. All films are fictions. The short film from Emir Kusturica (“Underground”) considers Orthodox Christianity in the mountains of Serbia, Iran’s Bahman Ghobadi Islamic faith in Turkey, Israel’s Amos Gitai (“Kedma”) Judaism and Mideast multi-cultural integration in Israel.
Of other directors, Hideo Nakata (“Ringu”) looks at Shinto Buddhism in the area of Japan’s devastated by tsunami; in a Madrid-set short, Spain’s Alex de la Iglesia considers Catholicism.
Arriaga’s own short, “God’s Blood,” turns on atheism.
“The film is mind-blowing. The shorts frame personal reflections, an intimate approach to what religion means to these great auteurs and how society reacts to religion,” Aguilar-Castillo said.
The nine directors will be invited to Los Cabos, he added.
However far-strung the settings — Arriaga shot in the jungle in Veracruz state — “Words With Gods” turns on common human stories: Faith, lost and found, plays a central role, along with birth and death and life’s decisive moments.
Peruvian Nobel prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa curated the order of the shorts, along historical lines. Peter Gabriel scored “Words With Gods.” Garcia and visual artist Maribel Martinez contributed animated inter-sections between shorts.
The three further films of “Heartbeat of the World” will focus on sex (“Encounters”), politics (“Polis”) and drugs (“Into the Bloodstream”).
World preeming out of competition at the Venice Festival, which kicks off Aug. 27, “Words With Gods” is skedded to bow in 2015.