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Mexico: Up Next! – Mariana Arriaga

Director presents first film, Venice-selected ‘In Self-Defense,’ at Morelia

It seems that Mariana Arriaga has inherited something of her father’s earnest nature watching her short “En defensa propia” (“In Self-Defense”).

In it, a break-in goes wrong resulting in painful examination of how one processes another’s march to death, one beyond the observers’ control.

Mariana, the daughter of screenwriter-diredctor-producer Guillermo Arriaga (“Amores perros,” “Babel,” “Words with Gods”), the adorned and renowned king of Mexican screenplays, acknowledges that her father is her inspiring director.

When asked her favorite, she answered, “This is gonna be a little bit cheesy, but my father. He’s the biggest influence in my life. I like the way he talks about human beings and these decisions and these situations that can take place in Japan, Morocco or Mexico,” she said. “It can take place everywhere.”

Guillermo Arriaga wrote “In Self-Defense” when in his twenties, adapting his own short story.

“At first I thought it would be difficult my father writing the short film and me directing it. I was afraid he would impose both his taste and his decisions on my way of doing things, but no, he gave me space. He gave me advice … He let me be completely free.”

Mariana Arriaga has a feature on the horizon but, not sure of the script, she’s moving another short, and gunning to get Luis Alejandro Silva, an actor of Venice Golden Lion-winning “From Afar,” and shoot it in Venezuela. She’s also looking at working more with Emilio Echevarria, a veteran for her father’s pics, who plays a disarmingly bigoted and unethical doctor in “In Self-Defense.”

“Yes, I love his character (referring to Echeverria),” she said. “It’s nice also that my brother Santiago, who’s one year younger, wants to produce, and I want to direct: So the next film will be this team Arriaga.”

The filmmaker added that “Defense,” which competed at Venice and now again at the Morelia Festival, made to complete Arriaga’s studies, was only possible thanks to the work of her fellow students and also a remarkable group of women that she worked with. The heads of most departments were women, and we were students and we were young: I like that.”

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