«Guillermo Arriaga a wild passion ». This very significant title is the one that has the keynote talk that this Wednesday, at 7:00 p.m. and telematically, will give within the Toledo Film and Word Festival (CiBRA) the writer, producer and film director born in Mexico in 1958. Known for his screenplays of films such as “Amores perros”, “21 grams”, “Babel”, “The three burials of Melquiades Estrada” and “The Burning Plain “, as well as for his novels such as”Save the fire», Which has earned him the Alfaguara Prize this year, the Mexican artist will speak to the participants of the event precisely about that: cinema and literature, his two great professional passions.
What is it like to meet again with Spain and Toledo, even if it is telematically?
As a writer and as a Mexican, few things excite me more than traveling to Spain. It is a country that I love, where I have always been treated wonderfully well. Cultural diversity always amazes me and Toledo left an indelible mark on me, from its people, of extreme kindness, to its architecture, its museums, highlighting El Greco); its crafts (for years we have enjoyed the use of a turtle carved in Toledo that works as a bell. My parents played it to call us to eat and it is still a tradition). Whenever I can, I will travel to Spain, physically or telematically. I will not stop thanking you for your generosity with me and trying to reciprocate as much as possible.
He participates in the Toledo Film and Word Festival (CIBRA) in a talk entitled “Guillermo Arriaga: a wild passion.” Do you honor that nickname?
I think it is others who have to confirm whether the name is valid or not.
He will speak, obviously, of cinema and literature, his two great professional passions. But, as they say, who does he love more: Mom or Dad? Which of the two artistic disciplines do you choose?
Above all, I am a storyteller, who sometimes decides to tell it in a novel, others in short stories and some more in the cinema. In all cases, I do literature and I feel privileged to be able to do it in its different forms.
Even so, he has said on occasion that he will not write more films if it is not to direct. Why?
Because if I’m passionate about something, it’s collaboration and that’s why I like directing. Furthermore, writing is the most arid and complex part of cinematographic tasks and directing seems to me the most joyous. Dozens of people working towards the same goal is deeply motivating and as a manager, if I can’t find an answer to a problem, there will be someone willing to help me. I don’t want to miss out on the enjoyment of this massive collaborative exercise.
In any case, the last recognition he has obtained has been thanks to literature, by winning the Alfaguara Prize this year with “Saving the fire.” What is the reader going to find in it who does not know it and believes that it is his most round novel?
A bet. That is what I want readers to find in each of my works. Let them know that I took risks, both in the themes, as in the structure, as in the language. It is a novel written from different narrative voices and each one handles a different time and language. Of course I don’t think it is my best novel. None of my work is round and I am glad that it is. Imperfection is perhaps the greatest virtue a literary work can have. That is precisely what some passages in the novel are about.
He is the fourth Mexican writer to win it in recent years. Do you send good tequilas to the jury or are these recognitions justified to the authors of your country?
I would be deeply ashamed of being awarded an award for lobbying, for surreptitious calls to support me from known jurors, or for trying to corrupt them with tequilas, money, or blackmail. I hate corruption, dishonesty and would be incapable of trying to induce a jury to decide. I’ve never done it, nor will I.
In “Salvar el fuego” he returns to the everlasting theme of violence in Mexico, but with the counterpoint of love, redemption and hope. Is this how you see your country?
No, I don’t see it that way. I believe that the theme of violence in Mexico is not generalized in Mexican literature. There are those who tell stories of love, of friendship, of hope, of joy. I see my country with love and optimism, always. It is now at a turning point, conjunctural, as Spain had its turning point with the Civil War and the horrific Franco dictatorship. But, just as Spain was able to overcome its breaking point, Mexico will too. If you weren’t optimistic, there would be no point in writing books, having children, or teaching classes.
I don’t know how the situation is in Mexico with the coronavirus. But has the pandemic given you time to write and create, be it something for film or literature? Can you advance us something?
The Alfaguara Prize has deserved my full attention and concentration. I have become an expert in zoom, Skype, Webex and other platforms to be able to carry out the tour of the award in a virtual way, as in the CiBRA. I feel very honored to be the winner of the Alfaguara Prize and it seems fair to give him my time and my dedication to respond to readers, readers and the press.