'Peruvian film culture benefits more from criticism than prosperity'

August 2008 -

The Lima Latin America Film Festival continues to get bigger every year. The twelfth edition, which took place at the beginning of August, 2008 brought even more films and even more public, not to mention a spectacular jury: the world renowned Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa as chairman and the Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros as a jury member. The festival selected thirty quality motion pictures and documentaries from a total of ten Latin America countries.


Scene from Dioses

One of the two motion pictures selected from Peru is the long-awaited new title by Josué Mendez: Dioses. His directorial debut Días de Santiago from 2004 received the most prizes ever awarded to a Peruvian movie. So people were eagerly looking forward to its successor. "After I produced Días de Santiago I intended to make a second film that was entirely different. I did not want to use the same subjective style with a camera technique that follows the characters intimately. In Dioses, I portrayed members of Lima’s richer upper crust, who live in a world of external appearances in an almost detached way. A world in which everything appears to be relaxed and perfect, but where just below the surface a sort of chaos reigns that does not differ much from the desperate situation of extreme poverty", Mendez explains.

Given the increase in movie attendance every year and the success of the film festival, you would expect that the Peruvian film culture is doing well. Mendez disputes this. "I do not believe that the dramatically improving economic circumstances in our country have made it easier to produce quality films. Distributors, operators and the movie-going public are primarily interested in commercial American productions, frequently of the worst sort. The cultural scene is small and is not stimulated by the government; this is what makes the critics’ work so important. They bring the film closer to the public, but also to the filmmaker himself. The words of a film critic help me understand more about a film I have made - both its strengths and its shortcomings."

Mendez' debut Días de Santiago was supported by the Hubert Bals Fund.