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“…you’re bringing our
#deathparty down,” producer Tim League good naturedly jabbed at WE ARE WHAT WE
ARE director Jorge Michel Grau as THE ABCs OF DEATH hit VOD on January 31. A
mass viewing party on Twitter unfurled to celebrate the anthology in all its
unapologetic, brash, bloody glory. Spearheaded by producers League and Ant
Timpson, a boozy good time was had by a host of the 26 directors who
contributed, fans and filmmakers alike as they imbibed, commented and were
generally awed by the insanity on display. League wasn’t far off, though. While
the sheer variety of filmmakers involved always meant a spectrum of content,
Grau’s is an undeniable, sober standout in a film looking to headbang its life
In his “I,” Grau opens on a man ready and willing to kill.
One hand, gloved, holds a syringe while the other is bare, revealing a wedding
band. The band’s match belongs to the woman tied up in the tub. As she narrates
her horror of the situation—how she just never saw this coming, and how she
refuses to believe she was the problem here—the director clues us in. The
wedding bands aren’t the only matches in the vicinity; slippers and bath robes
are strewn about. The woman is tied haphazardly, with tape, neck ties and her
own undergarments. The murder in
progress is just one in a breakout of femicide that runs through Mexico. It’s a
short to stiffen you in your seat, and FANGORIA spoke to Grau about including
it in such a collection.
FANGORIA: When ABCs
OF DEATH was offered, were there any guidelines, or were you given total free
JORGE MICHEL GRAU: When I was invited, the only condition
was that the short film will last five minutes, it had to be done with the $5,000
they offered and that it should be a story about the letter assigned. There was
no subject line or anything. It was a very free exercise. Although, I must
confess that, at the time of post, I had to remove a statement playing on
the line of the pamphlet. But always with complete freedom of
action and decision. To work like that, as a team, is something that strengthens
FANG: Even though a
good amount of directors chose to handle darker, or less outlandish material,
yours stands out as really having a conscience. What drove you to tackle this
subject of femicide in this film?
GRAU: It's actually a little line of work I have. Since WE
ARE WHAT WE ARE, or 72, the line of social consciousness or social critique
edges are present. And not as an exercise to raise awareness but to raise a
look at what is happening in my country. In "I .. for ingrown" I
decided to turn their gaze to the “femicide;” this unfortunate and outrageous
impunity for the systematic killing of women in my country. I thought the word
"ingrown" built a metaphor for what grows within us, that eats the
skin. I find these types of exercises are perfect for developing or experimenting
or discovering. A walk through hell never hurts anyone and helps you see things
differently. Hopefully people who see "I .. for ingrown" will witness
that the horror is not within the screen, the horror is around us.
FANG: WE ARE WHAT WE ARE also tackled socially conscious
material. You're clearly well versed in horror, but what was your first taste
of political or social film?
GRAU: One of my favorite movies and perhaps the first thing
I saw with a clear political banner was Sidney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON. The
cinema of the 70s left much of an impression on me as we watched a lot of
movies at home. As such, all the great films of the 70s had a major political
burden, a social look. From there is my love for writing with that vein or atmosphere.
I just think that when your turn to see your environment, it’s impossible not
to see what happens, you do not need a political ideal or position. Simply look,
FANG: Did you run through any other ideas for your segment?
GRAU: No, almost from the beginning I pointed to that topic.
I developed the story through the selection of words related to "I"
and all are displayed, for example: injection, itchy. The idea was to generate
many ideas or metaphors or references within the short film to show the
frivolousness or ridiculousness of the murder.
FANG: What's next for you?
GRAU: I am now seeking funds for my new project, KEEP QUIET, which
deals with the exploration of schizophrenia in an adolescent who believes his
father is a werewolf.
FANG: WE ARE WHAT WE ARE had universality in its exploration
of the predicaments of the impoverished. Are you excited to see that adapted to
the U.S. in its remake?
GRAU: I'm fascinated with the idea of the remake. It’s a
compliment to me. It is the first film in the history of Mexican cinema to have
a remake. Besides having the opportunity to transcend your ideas and exceed
borders, the remake allows international
audiences to turn to see the film industry in my country.
THE ABCs OF DEATH is out now on VOD and iTunes. It hits limited theatrical release March 8.
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