Die, Monster, Die, as seen by Alejandro Fadel

Film still of Muere, Monstruo, Muere (Murder Me, Monster) © RR

It's the fifth time Alejandro Fadel has participated in Un Certain Regard, and his fourth film. With Muere, Monstro, Muere, (Die, Monster, Die) the man known up until now as a screenwriter directs his first film in the Selection. In his home region of Mendoza, he films the brutal and inexplicable appearances of a monster….

Tell us how your film came into being

The two films I have directed so far have started from an almost documentary point of view – selecting the places, people and the productive processes of agricultural labour. The fictional element emerges slowly, like something inexorable. In this case, the documentary aspect was even more apparent as I decided to film in Mendoza, the Argentine province where I was born. I worked on my own memories. The film was made in that opaque space, halfway between experience and imagination.

A random image that struck me a few years ago turned into a game of dialogues: the Maipo volcano reflected on the Diamond Lagoon, in two perfect triangles. That's how I finished building the story: a love triangle, the death of a woman, and the inverted reflection of that triangle. Out of the void of a lost love arises a fantastic tale – the Monster. Two men and a woman, two men and the Monster. And that simple but beautiful image of the volcano on the lake helped me guide the direction, working with ideas of symmetry and reflections.

How was the atmosphere on set? Any anecdotes to share?

I like it when there's a certain chaos in the air. In this case, most of the film was shot outside, in winter, in the high mountain regions. The film had to fit in with what reality gave us, rather than the other way around. I like working like that, putting the screenplay to the test, with sufficient margin of error and plenty of room for randomness.

By way of example: in our schedule, we'd planned to film some specific roads and mountains for a day, as indicated in the script. When the day came, we set off to film at dawn, and slowly we saw the mist covering the mountain, then the roads. We couldn't see more than a few feet ahead, and what was meant to be a day of panoramic views turned into a day of fog. And so we rewrote and rethought the scenes and began to shoot again. The moment we got started, the mist began to clear. We just looked at each other, burst out laughing, and went back to Plan A. All day the weather varied between the two atmospheres. And we ended up shooting neither the originally planned sequence nor the one we were trying to improvise. That's how films are made, with all the technical or production difficulties, and the moods of the people involved…

A few words about your actors?

I only had one of the two actors in mind before writing the screenplay – Esteban Bigliardi. The other was always a mystery. But I was convinced that for this character I needed an actor who had never before been on screen. I was looking for a face, an accent. Then Víctor López turned up and the character stopped being a mere idea.  I try not to overburden my characters with psychology as it's their bodies that interest me most: their voice, their movements, and the dramatic construction.