Portraying Jaime García, better known as the “Charro of Toluquilla,” a womanizing mariachi singer whose life is split between a fantasy world, AIDS, and the deep love for his little daughter, José Villalobos’ “The Charro of Toluquilla” competes in the Ibero-American Documentary sidebar of the 31st Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival.
An icon of popular folklore, “Charro” refers to a horseman with colorful clothing and a big sombrero. Charro cinema became a genre, similar to an American Western, in the ’40s and ’50s — a golden age in Mexican cinema.
“As a director I share García’s imagination. I grant him the opportunity of being a superhero at the beginning. The character allowed me access to his intimate life. I am constructing a portrait of his psychology through colorful moments from his life,” Villalobos explained.
“Charro” took a post-production prize at Los Cabos fest and has received support from the Tribeca Film Institute and state production fund Foprocine.
Guadalajara-born Villalobos studied film at the city university, worked as an editor, producer of docs shorts and features. “Charro” is his first docu feature as a director, producer and photographer. Villalobos followed and shot Jaime García — the “charro” — during four years.
Documentaries might be expected to flourish in México, a country rich in diverse traditions and folklore. Out of 130 features produced in Mexico in 2014, 35% were documentaries, the highest figure in recent years. In 2013 30 documentary features were produced in Mexico, 45 in 2014.
“Years ago, technology was worse and more expensive. It was very difficult to shoot a documentary that could be compared to a fiction film in production values. Now, both have a similar language, visual values and creative process. I think this is a trend in a consolidation process,” Villalobos said.
The young Mexican director is in an early stage of preparation of his sophomore effort, “Los fracasados” (Losers).
“I’m interested in absurdity and black humor, antihero characters with charisma and deep internal conflicts,” said Villalobos.
In “Losers,” he added, “I am concerned in exploring the mistakes and contradictions of the characters, whether they achieve their goals or not. I want to keep trying to shoot with low budgets, great cinematography, great characters that I can find in the streets, look for nice locations and improvise a bit. I do not mind making fiction or documentary.”