The Spanish filmmaker Diego Quemada-Diez started out as assistant to Ken Loach. At the age of 44, he has been selected at Cannes for the first time with La Jaula de Oro, the story of a culture shock. Three Guatemalan teenagers on their way to the USA meet a Tzotzil Indian in Mexico. He’s called Chauk, is an undocumented person and doesn’t speak their language.
Tell us how your film came about.
In 2003, I read an article about a red-light district in Mazatlan. In a totally irrational move, I took a plane up there looking for my next story to tell. I lived two months in a house next to railroad tracks. Every single day, a convoy of train cars packed with migrants would arrive. They would tell us these terrible stories – how they were robbed on the way, many died… Their stories were like epic poems. I then spent several years collecting stories from migrants.
Any special memory or anecdote about the shooting?
Somehow the boys were mirroring the story without realising it. There were days when Rodolfo would get furious with Brandon. Both had this very competitive and racist attitude. Step by step, they began becoming brothers. The line between life and cinema was blurred. You don’t know what you are filming – life, the film, yourself.
What type of cinema has influenced you?
I love Spanish poet and filmmaker José Val del Omar. He considered filmmaking as an act of brutal manipulation; put someone into a dark room to show it only a part of reality, justifiable by a great poetic motivation.
I am fascinated by Costa Gavras’ political filmmaking. Akira Kurosawa, a great master who understood what it is to be human. Michael Haneke and his work about the dark side of society. Andreas Dresen and his realism methodology, the Dardenne brothers, Kubrick…
Can you tell us about your next project?
It is going to be a similar process, it all starts with research. I will build a story from the stories people tell.