The director of intense Mexican drama "Heli", competing for the Cannes film festival's Palme d'Or, talks about the state of his nation.
CANNES, FRANCE (MAY 16, 2013) (REUTERS) - Mexican film Heli, an intense family drama set against the backdrop of the Mexican drug wars and grinding poverty has received mixed reviews at the 2013Cannes film festival on the French Riviera.
A man stripped to his underwear, his mouth covered with duct tape, hangs from an overpass - the brutal opening scenes of the movie which is featured in the main competition at the festival.
"We're used to seeing that image a lot in Mexico, the person hanging from the bridge," explains director Amat Escalante.
"Usually you would think, 'Oh he probably deserved it' or 'He's involved with drugs so that's how you end up.' But I wanted to start like that. You see this scene where you don't know who it is -- it's similar to seeing it in the news report, because we're disconnected of the person -- and then to show how that person reached being killed in the bridge, being hanged in the bridge, I wanted the motivation for that," he added.
"Heli" tells the story of a family dragged into Mexico's violent drug war through the unwitting actions of a 12-year-old girl in love with a young police cadet.
Escalante's atmospheric shots of wide Mexican landscapes ultimately give way to stomach-turning scenes of torture.
But the film goes beyond the troubles of gang related violence and attempts to examine how some of the core problems in Mexican society have come to be.
"In Guanajuato, where I live, and many places in Mexico, it's unfortunately, and I think it's part of the problem of violence also, but very young girls are having babies, and there's no real sex education or consciousness, because of the Church basically. Condoms are not morally seen as the right thing to do and having abortions even less so the country's getting full of unwanted children, basically. And what do these unwanted children going to do? Not good things, most of them," Escalante said.
"Any country that has such problems has to start taking care of educating and giving a chance to more people. It's a country with such a big collapse, difference of, we have the richest man in the world who's Mexican and we have some of the poorest people in the world also Mexican. So that, right there, is violent for me already," he added.
This year's line-up includes five U.S. movies, the highest number in six years, including Steven Soderbergh's eagerly awaited "Behind the Candelabra" about pianist Liberace, and "Inside Llewyn Davis", the Coen brothers' look at the early Greenwich Village folk music scene.
The jury, including famed director Steven Spielberg, Australian actress Nicole Kidman and French actor Daniel Auteuil, will choose the main winner on May 26.