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"Imagination is always linked to reality"

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Emiliano Rocha Minter • Director


- Cineuropa sat down with Emiliano Rocha Minter, whose film We Are the Flesh is being presented at the Fantasia IFF, to discuss the title’s aesthetics and confrontational nature

Emiliano Rocha Minter  • Director
(© Joke Schut)

Emiliano Rocha Minter, a budding 26-year-old Mexican filmmaker, is presenting his bold and corporeal feature debut, We Are the Flesh [+see also:
interview: Emiliano Rocha Minter
film profile
, a Mexican-French co-production, at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. Rocha Minter is part of the new wave of Mexican filmmakers, endorsed by such figures of Mexican cinema as Alejandro González Iñárritu and Carlos Reygadas. We Are the Flesh follows a brother and sister as they encounter an enigmatic figure challenging their attitudes in a rather libertarian way, achieving enlightenment through a transgressive set of rituals. The film’s sales agent is Reel Suspects.

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Cineuropa: We Are the Flesh is a very specific film in terms of aesthetics, but also regarding its substance and message…
Emiliano Rocha Minter:
I was watching a lot of films at several festivals, and at some point, those films started to make me feel very depressed. There were exceptions, of course, but I started to get a little worried that arthouse cinema was lacking in life. I have the impression that, at the moment, there is a lot of self-consciousness getting in the way of healthy sincerity – no one wants to take a risk and miss a shot. I felt completely trapped, so I really wanted to burn something and fly away.

Your film leaves enough room for interpretation, but is it intended to be a social commentary on the current situation in Mexico? The uninitiated viewer might have a hard time decoding the message.
I am not so sure about the social commentary. Imagination is always linked to reality. We might think that a film talking about reality is always rendered in a realistic way, especially when you are making a social critique. I have seen plenty of Mexican films dealing with Mexican reality in this way. We Are the Flesh is a social commentary, but more in a "reality meets imagination" kind of a way. It explores what reality is doing to us, within us, in our own caves.

Were you making a political film?
I hope that We Are the Flesh is more like an insurrectional political energy that hits you on the level of emotions and sensations, that walks into your body and takes up residence in the back of your mind, planting something inside you - like how electricity makes your heart shudder and triggers questions from inside your flesh. I think that’s a more intriguing space to play on, the politics of the inside. Maybe it is more like an intimate film that looks right into the heart of politics. I am tired of the average political film, trying to complain about the outside. Furthermore, we cannot forget that, above all else, films should be cinema.

We Are the Flesh is surprisingly graphic. How did this happen?
When I was writing the script, I only had one rule: we would never leave that building/cave. With that simple rule in mind, anything could happen. While writing the film, I wanted it to show a journey going backwards, from a human being’s first house to the womb. For me, that cave was a setting in which all our dark fantasies could play out. It was a scenario of possibilities that branches out in several directions, and one of them was to go back to the body, to the flesh and the animosity that is within us. In the cave, I could be free and not judge myself so hard, so as to be able to confront these visions and never close my eyes. At some moments I was afraid, thinking, “Oh fuck, this is too much,” but it would have been too cowardly to stop. I kept going, diving into that world and never stopping to think too much, just going inside myself. Maybe there are some explicit things in the film, like a penis or a vagina, but everybody sees these on a daily basis. So there are rare images in the film, but I think we have to take the risk to keep watching and enjoy the ride. Through art, we can explore chaos.

It looks almost like you are stepping into the territory of Gaspar Noé.
I really like Gaspar’s films, and for sure, he is a reference for the explicit and the intense. I think my film is more naïve than his – more like when you tell someone about a dream you had last night, but you are afraid to explain it because people are going to think you are crazy. So I think the territory of my film is the dream, because dreams are islands where the imagination doesn’t have any limits – our inner police are asleep in our dreams, and our desires awaken and connect directly with our imagination in a very free, beautiful and disturbing way. 

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