Gael García Bernal made his debut in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Amores Perros and has already acted with some of the most famous directors, including Alfonso Cuarón, Walter Salles, Michel Gondry, Jim Jarmusch. He has also directed short films and Deficit, his first feature. In 2005, he founded the production company "Canana" with Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz. Together, they run the Ambulante documentary film festival.
In 2010, he has been invited by the Festival to preside over the Camera Jury which will award the best first film chosen from the Official Selection, the Director’s Fortnight or the Critics’ Week.
INTERVIEW "FIRST TIME"
Is it the first time you have presided over a Festival Jury? How do you feel about it?
Over a Festival Jury, yes, it’s the first time. I feel very happy and very excited because everything is new, all the films, all the directors we are going to see, and we don’t know anything about them. And I’ll try not to know anything about the films, not even their nationality. Just to be surprised, you know. It’s a different approach from watching a film by a director you already know.
How are you going to manage the rest of the Jury?
I think everyone is in the same spirit, allowing each other to be very surprised. I think it is just going to be about having a lot of fun and concentrating on the films that we like instead of what we don’t like. That’s always a more useful approach and we don’t waste time.
What is your first memory of cinema?
Dumbo. It was Dumbo and I remember that because I’ve seen it with the family several times. Watching Dumbo was an event, going to that particular cinema, for us kids, it was beautiful. It was at the Continental Cine, in Mexico City, and I liked going there, you know, the building itself.
But when you decided to be an actor, it wasn’t thanks to Dumbo?
No! But my parents are actors so for me, in a way, it would have been impossible not to become an actor. It was part of my life.
Of all the directors you admire, which one would you put at the top of the list?
I hate choosing like this because you leave out so many and also you leave no room for the new filmmakers. But I think I would choose all the directors that I’ve worked with: Alfonso Cuarón, Walter Salles, or Almodovar, Iñárritu, Fernando Meirelles, Michel Gondry...You know, they each have a very strong personal point of view and that makes them at the same time similar but also different.
You began your film career in Gonzales Inarritu’s film Amores Perros, your first feature film as an actor. What are your memories of that experience?
It was fantastic! Coming to Cannes... It was the first time I came to France... and watching the film for the first time–I hadn’t seen it yet– at eleven in the morning, here at the Critics’ Week. I was absolutely blown away! Everyone that participated in the film, their lives changed afterwards. We were seven in a very small apartment. We had so much fun! It was incredible that a film could change everything. Cannes was full of huge posters promoting plenty of other films and I thought, it’s going to be drowned out by all them, nobody’s going to pay attention to our film! Fortunately I was wrong... and since then I still believe that Cannes is a place where good films, whatever section they are in, if they are good, everyone will know about it so quickly and careers can begin from this point. It was a fairytale experience!
Deficit was your first feature film as a director. How would you sum up this first time behind the camera?
It was fun. It’s a film that was more like an exercise to me, in a way very refreshing. I learned a lot, it was intense and very useful. I knew I was going to be addicted to this thing called directing, and I am addicted although I don’t consider myself as director as much as an actor. That’s my job and I enjoy being an actor because I can live more lives as an actor than as a director.
What would you say is important to remember about a first film or, more generally, about a first time?
What is important is to test. Having a first experience is a success in itself. I think also that the most important thing is to follow through to the end of the experience. You can get very tired but the important thing is to finish. And also it’s important because each first time changes your life. I mean, jumping into the water changes your perception of water. It’s the same thing with films.
What are your plans after the Festival?
There are a couple of things but I’m not sure. And until it happens, it’s almost considered bad luck to say what you want to do. But, I think in the middle of June, Mexico is playing against France in the World Cup so I’m planning to see that. To see how Mexico will win, even if it’s going to be very difficult... but it will be very difficult for France too!
Interview by V.V.E.