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SxSW 2017 Interview: TORMENTERO director Ruben Imaz

by Jason Whyte

"This is a dream like film about the last days in the life of a forgotten local hero who feels he was betrayed decades ago when he discovered a great oil field which ended fishing on his island; but he also feels that the time to fix his life may have come. The main character Romero Kantun was inspired by the story of Prospero, the magician from Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, therefore the film deals with the possibility of magic as a way of overcoming sadness and loneliness. The main role is played by Jose Carlos Ruiz whom I think is the best Mexican actor of his generation, he has acting credits in more than 60 films, he lives trapped by the film camera and so is our main character, and he is in fact trapped by his own past." Director Ruben Imaz on TORMENTERO which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

Is your first time here in Austin and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Yes, it will be my first time at SXSW and yes I am going to be at the screenings for the Q&As!

What made you want to become a filmmaker?

I studied filmmaking at Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica in Mexico City where I graduated with my opera prima FAMILIA TORTUGA which premiered at San Sebastian in 2006. I am partner in mexican based company Axolote Cine responsible for eleven features in the last decade. I am also a film producer and I produced the film FOGO by Yulene Olaizola that was presented at the Director's Fortnight Cannes in 2012.

How did TORMENTERO come together for you?

I visited a small cemetery in Ciudad del Carmen in Campeche, Mexico. There, there was a small tomb, almost abandoned, of Mexican fisherman whom in the 1960s discovered the greatest oilfield in Mexico and one of the biggest worldwide. I knew I wanted to make a film about that forgotten man.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

I feel that as a filmmaker I am a dreamcatcher. I always forget the dreams I have during a night but I know through cinema I can represent those dreams. Filmmaking is the way I keep my dreams alive, not my dreams in life, but my actual funky, hallucinated and personal ones.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

The biggest challenge was to tell this story without over explaining it. I want the film to rest in the mind of the audiences as an inner subjective memory more than a precise narrative film. I am glad that the film has an hypnotic feeling while you watch it.

Please tell me about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

We used a Canno c500 with two Angienux zoom lenses. The cinematographer's name is Gerardo Barroso, I have worked with him since film school, we are really good friends and know how to work together. Every take in the film was carefully prepared in terms of choreography. We also wanted to link to worlds that usually are set separated: nature and industry. The city where we shoot the film is a natural paradise but holds an industrial city above it.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

I want Robert Rodriguez to attend to my film. I am a huge fan of his independency and his ways of producing, he is a Tex-Mex hero for me.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I have the feeling that this film can interact very well with asian audiences, so anywhere in Asia would be fantastic.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive, like talking and texting, through a screening you were at?

I can't stand them, I am always the first one in the audience to ask them to shut up. I always do it in a nice way of course and try to let them understand. Sometimes it is really hard but I do not quit very easily.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Nobody will come and take you out of the dirt. You will become a filmmaker the minute you decide to. Do not run as if you were doing the 100 meters in the olympics, this is more like a marathon.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?

HARD TO BE A GOD by Russian filmmaker Aleksei German.


Alamo Ritz 2 on Saturday, March 11 from 3:45 PM
Alamo Lamar C on Monday, March 13 from 5:30 PM
Alamo Ritz 2 on Wednesday, March 15 from 1:30 PM

Follow TORMENTERO online on Facebook!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2017. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 10-18. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/09/17 02:12:26
last updated: 03/09/17 02:14:36
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