×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mexico’s Alonso Ruizpalacios on ‘Museo,’ Francois Truffaut, Play  

‘Museo’ celebrates its North American premiere at Toronto

Scoring a 2018 Berlin Silver Bear for best screenplay and some rave reviews – Variety called it “gorgeous, giddy shaggy-dog movie” – Mexican Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Museo,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal, now segues to Toronto for its North American premiere before its U.S. commercial bow in New York, via Vitagraph Films, on Sept. 14.

Ruizpalacios’ follow-up to 2014’s “Gueros,” a Berlin best first feature winner, “Museo” is inspired by one of Mexico’s most notorious heists: the Christmas Eve 1985 robbery of 140 priceless Mayan and Meso-American pieces from Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum. First thought the work of a sophisticated international crime syndicate, the robbery was in fact the work of two Mexican veterinary school drop-outs: Juan and loyal sidekick Benjamin Wilson in the film. Ruizpalacios talked to Variety about the film.

Museo” has been taken as the story of a son, Juan, (Garcia Bernal), who misguidedly tries to impress his father by pulling off a movie-style robbery. But maybe I’m wrong.

I tend to side with what Wilson says at the beginning of the film: That we can’t really know the motives of people in history. We can only guess from their actions. Digging deeper into the story, we couldn’t find a motive for the [real-life] heist. We  ended up embracing that. It became one of the film’s keys. I always kept in mind Iago in “Othello.” His most evil feat was not saying why he did what he did at the end of the play. He just says, “What you know, you know. From this time forth, I never will speak word.”

The film seems a tragedy, of an intelligent iconoclast, Juan, in a society where people learn things by rote, accept received wisdom blindly…

There’s something to that. Juan has a mind of his own, but no real purpose. He’s deeply confused, a rebel without a real cause. That’s part of his tragedy.

But if tragedy, it’s a highly playful one. Why such playfulfulness?

At Berlin, I quoted Francois Truffaut – I talk to him in my mind, love his films, everything about him – to the effect that there are two types of film – those reflecting the agony of making a film, and those reflecting its sheer joy. My two belong to the second category. I trained in theater, always loved the concept of play. Fiction for me is a game, to be taken very seriously. The cinematographer Damian Garcia is one of my best friends. I look forward to being on set with him, mucking about. Many of the actors in “Museo” and “Güeros” are from my theater company in Mexico. There is real friendship

After Mexicans have been attacked by President Donald Trump, “Museo” sounds a note of pride at least about some things in Mexico.

When shooting “Museo,” I was constantly thinking about Mexican audiences. Their seeing the Anthropology Museum, for example. For my mind, it’s right up there next to Louvre and the British Museum. I wanted to do right by it, shooting the pieces up close, and letting people see them wonder where they came from, what they meant.

“Museo” looks as if it it was shot on a significantly higher budget than “Güeros,” a road movie which never leaves Mexico City. What were the benefits of this step-up?

The budget was really just about bringing alive the story. What it did allow us was to shoot in 35mm, which I wanted to do with “Güeros,” but couldn’t. Also it was very important for me to be able to travel to the Mayan ruins of Palenque, to Acapulco. But we never had the budget to dress a whole street, use an open background, cars, people and clothes. So we had to limit depth of field, just shoot foreground.

Mexico has something of a Chile syndrome. It makes movies that are acclaimed abroad. But Mexican movies domestic market share rarely reaches 10%. Is one aim of “Museo’s” bigger scale a larger impact at the Mexican box office?

We still haven’t fully convinced Mexicans that Mexican films are worth watching. But “Museo” will premiere in Mexico at the October’s Morelia Festival. Then Cinepolis, the distributor, is going all in, opening “Museo” on 500 screens in Mexico. “Gueros” had 50 screens. So yes, it’s a big step-up.

VARIETY PORTRAIT STUDIO AT TIFF

More Film

  • Ava DuVernay Toby Emmerich Michael Douglas

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, Michael Douglas to Speak at Produced By Conference

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, and Michael Douglas will speak at the Producers Guild of America’s 11th Produced By Conference. The event will be held on June 8-9 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. Other notable speakers include Netflix executive Cindy Holland; Blumhouse producer Marci Wiseman; “Homecoming” showrunners Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz; Entertainment One [...]

  • Jean Francois Helene Etzi

    Disney's French Chief Jean-Francois Camilleri Exiting, Helene Etzi Upped

    Jean-Francois Camilleri is leaving Disney after more than 30 years and will replaced as the head of its French operation by Helene Etzi. Sources said Camilleri’s departure was his own decision. He announced his exit on Twitter, Tuesday, and paid tribute to his team and colleagues at Disney, thanking them for the “unique adventure.” In [...]

  • dumbo Tim Burton

    Film Review: Tim Burton's 'Dumbo'

    The key image in Walt Disney’s 1941 “Dumbo” is something out of a fairy-tale daydream: Dumbo, the baby elephant with long-lashed goo-goo eyes, a cuddly grin, and ears as long and floppy as wings, flapping those ears to soar around a circus big top, flying over the crowds with a freedom as touching as it [...]

  • Guys and Dolls

    'Guys and Dolls' Getting Remade at TriStar (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Guys and Dolls,” the venerable Broadway musical, is set to return to the big screen. TriStar Pictures has purchased remake rights to the original Damon Runyon short stories about gamblers and gangsters that inspired the shows, as well as the rights to the Broadway musical with its book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and [...]

  • Captain America: Civil War

    'Black Widow,' 'Little Women,' 'Charlie's Angels' Among Most Tracked Female Directed Projects, IMDb Says (EXCLUSIVE)

    Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” Cate Shortland’s “Black Widow,” Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman 2,” and Elizabeth Banks’s “Charlie’s Angles” are among the ten most tracked projects on IMDbPro. Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”), Chloé Zhao (“The Rider”), and Susanne Bier (“After the Wedding”) rank among the most widely followed female directors on the [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    European Parliament Gives Final Approval to Controversial Article 13 Copyright Directive

    The European Parliament on Tuesday gave final approval to Article 13, a controversial part of a wider directive that shakes up the rules around copyright in the European Union. The new rules will have ramifications for online platforms, content owners and creators, and the general public. The proposed new framework, now approved, has sparked widespread [...]

  • Fox Disney Layoffs

    Fox Studio Quickly Fades Away as Disney Starts Work on Integration

    In the waning days of 21st Century Fox, there was a run on the searchlight. As Disney neared the completion of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, employees on the Fox lot rushed into the studio’s gift shop to pick up mugs, shot glasses, sweatshirts, hats and T-shirts emblazoned with 20th Century Fox’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content