MORELIA — Carlos Armella’s “Go Youth!” stands out as one of the most lighthearted and fun projects featured at this year’s Impulso Morelia, the works in progress section of Mexico’s Morelia Film Festival.
Impulso marked the first time that Armella has screened an unfinished film at a festival, necessary as shooting only finished a couple of weeks ago. The director and producers from B Positivo Producciones and Caponeto Cine screened the first hour of the film on Thursday afternoon, where it received a number of laughs and left the audience wanting more.
Armella’s earned his fest cred with the 2008 short film “Tierra y pan,” which scooped the Golden Lion at that year’s Venice Festival, although his most mainstream successes have come from his contributions to Netflix’s “The Day I Met El Chapo” and International Emmy Award-nominated “Club of Crows.”
“Go Youth!” is split into four parts, each focused on a young person struggling with the tumultuous changes shaping their world. Martin is a young man caught in the act of a very public display of unrequited affection. Daniel is entering adulthood but struggling with the transition, especially after a run-in with the law. Dulce is a hard-on-the-outside bully trying to maintain her image. And Pedro suddenly starts speaking exclusively in a nonsensical language, with an attitude and smirk that insist he must be trolling the adults around him.
In Morelia Armella talked with Variety about how the stories connect, where they came from, and seeking out talented young performers.
Where did these stories come from? Did you always intend to tell them together or did they start out unrelated?
The stories in “Go Youth!” were born from elements of Mexico City: graffiti, taxis, students and the chaos that is generated among the inhabitants of a huge city. But it is also born from my memories of adolescence. The first idea came when I saw graffiti on a wall which said, “Cris, I love you.” When I saw it I began to imagine who had written it and why. I imagined it was a declaration of unrequited adolescent love. When developing that story in my mind new characters appeared who crossed paths with the young graffiti artist, but who also had conflicts, longings and sufferings because they were young dreamers. It was always the idea to put the stories together because they spawn from one another.
How do you write from the point of view of teenagers? Did you get contributions from any youth during the process?
From the beginning I realized that I wanted to tell the story about the anguish of being a teenager, but also about the innocence, passions, ideals and beauty of that age, even though the whole world seems be an enemy. These are feelings I experienced in my adolescence that never left. However, I also knew that my adolescence was different from today’s youth. The young people who auditioned and participated in the film were a great source of inspiration in the creative process. After casting and acting preparation with the kids, we observed their behavior and tastes to integrate them with the characters. Throughout filming I encouraged the actors to adapt or change elements of the verbal and body language of their characters, as long as it was congruent with what we wanted to tell.
Where did you find the kids for the movie? Did any of them have acting experience?
An exhaustive casting was carried out through workshops, schools, direct calls and social networks. We weren’t looking for experience, rather kids with fascinating, memorable faces, and who had the intelligence to know how to get into fiction and react to the situations in that the script. Interestingly, the kids had experienced circumstances very similar to those of their characters, which helped a lot so that they could understand them and get under their skin. The majority of the youth in the cast had very little acting experience. Some of them had never acted in front of a camera.
What are your goals for the Impulso Morelia this year?
As director and editor I feel that the film is not worn out by multiple and constant reviews and opinions. On the contrary, it is still in a moment of great freshness, since filming ended just a few weeks ago. I don’t usually show my projects unfinished, so Impulso Morelia will be a novelty for me. We will only exhibit approximately half of the film, and with that we can measure how strong and solid the first 2 acts are, and the spectator’s interest in knowing the rest of the story. The biggest goal would be to see that the audience connects with the humor of the film, and to measure if we have achieved the correct balance between the four main characters. If it generates interest at Impulso Morelia, it will be an affirmation that we are on the right track, and that the film has the potential to connect with international audiences and be a worthy representative of Latin American cinema of our time.