The other week I was lucky enough to grab myself a ticket for the screening of Diego Luna's directorial debut, Abel.
The film was introduced by Diego himself and was followed by a Q&A with Diego and producer/Diego pal/partner (along with Gael Garcia Bernel they run Canana films) Pablo Cruz.
I stumbled my way to the front of the screen with Kandy (andenoviral conjunctivitis was totally hating on my eyes at this point!) where Kandy's sister Rosie had saved us some seats. I was getting nervous, (initially for seeing a proper film star in the flesh!) but mostly because Nickie and Alison were nowhere in (very restricted) sight. I'm just going to point out now that Nickie is a pure film buff, and one of her main obsessions is Mexican cinema, so obviously she was beyond excited.
They eventually arrived and Nickie's face of delight and equal measures 'on the verge of tears' hinted that their delay was for a good and valid reason. turns out it was, Nickie had just bagged a quick photo shoot.
The film itself was really good. I don't want to spoil it for anyone yet to see it, but the basic story is of a young boy who returns home after a stint on a psychiatric ward. The film unfolds to see how members of his immediate family react to his return and to him adopting the role of father figure.
The Film was touching but definitely not without a comedic sense. I didn't cry, but I did look like I'd bawled my way through the whole thing. A whole family coming of age affair.
After the film was the Q&A. I'm not the biggest fan of Q&A's (as you might have guessed form the John Waters post). It's not that I don't want whoever has created what we are discussing, to talk about it. I love that. It's all the people that ask, long drawn out questions, that end up more like statements, just to make themselves sound clever! There was a lot of that, and aside from one person who actually was Mexican, everyone seemed to start the question off with 'I lived in Mexico' (which, to me does not equate to knowing what it is to be Mexican!). I also think they took the fact a child had some sort of mental illness, out of context. Constantly referring to him as having special needs and lots of the questions addressing this. Diego pointed out it was a conscious decision not to make Abel's illness known, because he wasn't making a film about children with mental illness.
He talked about how the film was more of how the family react to Abel's return and to him playing the father figure, and how, in Mexico and most likely many other places, it is passed off as the normal way to live for a father to be absent.
he spoke about growing up with just his father (after his mother passed)and how lots of fathers in Mexico go away to work or shun the responsibility of fatherhood and child rearing falls upon the mother with nobody questioning this, and how he, having recently become a father could not understand not wanting to be part of his children's lives and sharing the responsibility. GO DIEGO!
A lot of the questions were directed at Diego, put when Pablo spoke, I could tell I liked him, with his dry wit. He often responded to the questions about Mexico and it's 'bad press' (there were lots of them) and answered honestly. The truth is, they are not poster child for Mexico and don't need to make propaganda films, something they were both aware of and seemed to get across to the audience.
All in all I really enjoyed it, the film, the Q&A, listening to two very talented and down to earth guys speak of something they are passionate about.
I will definitely be going to see Abel again when it is shown at The Cornerhouse's Viva festival in March, and I recommend you do too!