Speaking at the Marrakech Film Festival, where he is serving on the jury, Michel Franco told Variety he will shoot his sixth feature, “The Dreams of a Few” (Lo que algunos soñaron), in April. His last pic, “April’s Daughter,” premiered last year in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, where it won the Special Jury Prize.
The Mexican director is renowned for his distinctive, somewhat austere filmmaking style, but says his new pic, which will be shot in Mexico with an all-Mexican cast, will mark an evolution in his style, although he will still use the same core crew of his previous films, including cinematographer, Yves Cape.
“It’s a bigger movie, with a bigger cast. It’s a bigger movie, production-wise. It’s not an intimate story as in my previous five films,” he said. “I guess the technique and narrative change when you’re following more characters. So it’ll be a change from my aesthetic and usual approach.”
Franco didn’t elaborate. “It’s not that I can’t say much more because I’m secretive; I’m finding out myself,” he added.
The project was presented in June in Paris, during the Franco-Mexican coproduction meeting organized by France’s CNC and Mexican Film Institute (Imcine), where producer Édgar San Juan described it as a near-future dystopia, revolving around the gulf between rich and poor in Mexico City.
Franco says that this evolution in his style is linked to the subject matter and the script. “I never impose a style. It’s not that I’m in search for popularity. I’m always looking to engage audiences. ‘Lucia’ got a pretty big audience and ‘April’s Daughter’ worked pretty well in France and Mexico. As on every occasion, I hope that this works. Even though some people may think I am shooting for festivals, I’m not at all. I’m looking for an audience.”
Franco says that he likes filming in Mexico, since his work is intimately related to his environment, which will once again be treated in the upcoming pic. “It’s not that I enjoy all the trouble we’re having. It’s a complex reality. But many other countries don’t have such an interesting film scene. Maybe things are more civilized there.”
In the new pic, he wants to focus on a story linked to the gulf between rich and poor in Mexico. “It’s no secret that Mexico is very poor. Twenty-five million people are starving, nobody talks about that. My new movie has to do with a number of matters that are not normally dealt with in cinema. It’s a good thing to do this and still be cinematic and try to find an audience,” he said.
“You don’t want to be patronizing towards the audience. We have to find the way of making our own cinema and not trying to apply a Hollywood formula. To me the most mediocre way of making films is within a formula.”
Visiting Morocco and Marrakech for the first time, Franco says he can relate to the country in two main ways – because of parallels in terms of the color and vibrancy of the culture, and because of his own roots.
“My whole background is mainly Syrian so I relate in certain ways. My grandparents came from Lebanon. Food at home is Lebanese. My mother curses in Arab when driving. I listened to Arab music when I was a kid. There’s a big Lebanese community in Mexico, in particular of Sephardic Jews.”
He says that he is impressed by the high standard and consistent quality of the 14 films in official competition and after the end of the festival says he will take a six-day tour of Morocco before resuming pre-production. “Even though I’m shooting in April, it’s good to get away and see things from a distance. And to watch all the movies I’m watching. It feeds my own purpose as well.”