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A written collage of four different stories told by Mexican filmmakers

Morelia, Michoacán, México, October 2022

by Majo Aguilar 

Since its first edition in October of 2003, Morelia Film Festival has been held every year in the forever warm and welcoming state of Michoacan. Created by Daniela Michel, Alejandro Ramírez and Cuahutémoc Cárdenas Batel, for approximately four days the festival presents a variety of films made by Mexican filmmakers. From short films to wide length films, the screens project documentary and fiction motion pictures presenting each one of the views and subjects their creators have to offer. Bestowing artists with its award El Ojo (the eye) in ten different categories, the festival has to offer the same level of cinematographic excellence and audiovisual experience as any festival outside of Latin America. With special guests every year, from national icons like directors González Iñarritu or Ruizpalacios to international figures such as Robert Redford, Isabelle Huppert, or Geraldine Chaplin, the festival is always a meeting point for stories worth telling. This year, we collect four different short films presented in different categories. 



Director Daniela Silva Solorzano

 The Things I Tell You 

The Things I Tell You is a documentary short film written and directed by Daniela Silva Solorzano. The film narrates her encounter with a man named Diogo during her stay in Portugal and explores the vast topic of love, feelings and long distance communication. A quick but touching dive into liquid modernity. 

The inspiration for her film are visual portraits. She had previously made a film with her grandfather of this kind before moving abroad, at the same time, she had just seen a film by a girl who made a visual portrait and recorded an elder man. The feeling and tension on camera inspired Daniela to go forward with this project. When in Portugal, she was doing her master’s degree and was asked to make a film. She says, "I had to make this, so I decided to publish on Tinder, 'I’m looking for someone who's willing to make a movie,' and the first to answer was Diogo." Diogo expressed to her that he did not want to make the movie but he just wanted a date instead, and after going out and getting along, Daniela asked him for just five more dates for her to record him. 

At the same time, she was longing to explore the virtual world she used to communicate with her friends, to be vulnerable and open up. Beside virtual interactions, Silva Solorzano finds no huge difference in the way people carry relationships between one country and another, she thinks that people who live in cities have a lot in common, it’s not necessarily a question of countries – She says, "Both of us were very compromised with the film, we ended up going out more than five times, but we knew we were not having a long relationship." 

Daniela thinks of filmmaking as a game, she enjoys experimenting with the events and see where that takes her. The virtual world of her talks with friends were too fast, which in the movie she tries to contrast against the slow paced and longer in-person conversations with Diogo. She finds them as a beautiful mixture of fun and sadness.


Film Stills

Were there any difficulties opening up to make this film possible? 

"It was very useful to me that we had a deadline, it didn’t allow me to think a lot about the whole thing, I just did it. That allowed me not to overthink it, but in the beginning it was a little complicated, for me it was a question of forcing myself to get the camera out every time we were on a date. What was hard for me was when we projected the film at a cinema with all my classroom present, I didn’t touch it for a while, I was very anxious of watching myself in that situation so I didn’t watch it in a long time. After a while I saw it again and added a few more scenes and decided to finish it properly."

Daniela describes watching her material as "a complete madness." She narrates her rushed life at a point where editing and dating got mixed, she woke up early and started a daily ritual of watching a film before working on the movie for some inspiration, then she would send her material to her supervisor and rushed back to her date, she was staggering between being a director and a character. 

What she collects from Portugal is the city, her friends and an upcoming short film she also recorded while there. She says, "What I take from this the most is that it was a place that help me understand myself as a filmmaker and for being myself," and since The Things I Tell You revolves around love, we ask her what love means- "When I was a teenager I thought that love was the thing I should aspire to get, that I should fall for someone and marry and all. Now, I think love means a lot of things just as Diogo says in the movie. It is beautiful to think about it as a way of bonding and getting to know people, to make friends and to listen to others. There are a lot of ways love can be represented, they are all valid, and that’s why I love everyone who takes part in my films."



Director Enrique Garcia Meza

Las nubes son de mùsica (The Clouds are  Made of Music)

In this short documentary film, director Enrique Garcia Meza presents alongside his producer Anna Maciel the importance of music for the Mixe community in the state of Oaxaca, Mèxico. It captures their beloved orchestra, the tragic stealing of their instruments and the story of Brandon, a local young man whose dream is to study music.


After making a documentary on the tragic case of the disappearance of 43 Mexican students in Ayotzinapa, México, Enrique García Meza felt like discussing Utopia after keeping record of a topic hard to swallow. Later, he got a proposal by multi-awarded director Guillermo Del Toro, which he declined until Del Toro asked him what he knew about the children of Oaxaca, the tenth state of thirty-two that makes up the Mexican nation. The story of the theft of instruments in an Oaxacan community and the idea of the utopia in which they lived is what prompted him to pursue the documentary, and although he presented the idea to some people, the one who stuck with him to bring this documentary to life was his producer, Anna Maciel. 

Enrique has worked in small villages, but nonetheless, the aspects that impressed him most of life in the Mixe community were their social conscience, their communality. Although they have problems as a population, they have an enormous awareness of the environment and manage to be one with it. He says, "It is beautiful to see them live- they don’t simply survive, they live. They live hand in hand with nature, they love water the way we love cars, they love trees the way we love our environment. If someone is wrong, everyone is affected by it and everyone cooperates." 

Since his documentary relates filmmaking with music, García recalls that since he was a child every time he listened to music he lost his mind and his creativity started to flow. That specifically happened to him in his teenage years when listening to Pink Floyd. That's why when he saw Brandon, his protagonist, compose, he was fascinated by his ability to create pieces from scratch and found that music is an enormous support for feature films. 

His collaboration with Anna Maciel was cemented in mutual feedback and different points of view, for him it is very cool to work with someone with whom he feels a connection and at the same time there is mutual criticism, for him it is very important to record even if he is not very convinced and in editing he does the rest of the work. This allowed him to capture everything in a very genuine way and portray the pain of the loss of their instruments since the music in the Mixe zone is vital. He says, "You’ll see, we need coffee, they need their instruments. It is amazing how solidary they are, even the ones who work outside their community send help and money to the people who are still there."

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"It is beautiful to see them live- they don’t simply survive, they live. They live hand in hand with nature, they love water the way we love cars, they love trees the way we love our environment. If someone is wrong, everyone is affected by it and everyone cooperates." 

Director Enrique Garcia Meza
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"You’ll see, we need coffee, they need their instruments. It is amazing how solidary they are, even the ones who work outside their community send help and money to the people who are still there."

Director Enrique Garcia Meza
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In your documentary we can see Brandon finally achieved his goal of studying music in Mexico City after two years of the movie being filmed. How did you hear about the news?

"We never lost touch. His mother wrote to me and told me he was going to present the test, they sent me pictures of him outside college and all. We really wanted to go to Mexico City but the monetary situation didn’t allow us to, but then his mother wrote to me again and told me he got accepted. It was beautiful, I returned to Oaxaca for two days and recorded him to give a closure to the documentary and you can see the difference between the first and second time we recorded him: First he looks like a kid and then he is a young man."

To outsiders, What Enrique would like to share about his experience is that he has found Utopia in this place. He can say that they dominate the technology, the technology does not dominate them. It may be a community with material "deficits," but definitely not moral deficits. They show that it is possible to create united societies. In the future, García Meza is planning a documentary and a fiction and does not plan to stop making films.



Director Fernanda Lozada


In this animated short film, Director and writer Fernanda Lozada explores a colorful narrative about following our own passions, the always complicated but beautifully unconditional relationship with our families and the never ending fight of embracing or changing traditions, all of this with a dash of Parisian inspiration. 

Bouclette was born after Fer Lozada was at a café located in Juárez suburb in México City, she overheard a conversation in which a baker explained he used to be a barber and she loved that premise because her own family had always dedicated themselves to the kitchen. Her father made ice creams his whole life, he was the third generation of a very long tradition of making these, and her mother dedicated herself to confectionery. She says, "The parallels and similarities between being a baker and a barber caught my attention, it’s very similar in the way that as a baker you put cream on top of a cake and as a barber you put shaving cream on a person, that was the excuse to make Bouclette, all that was left was placing that into a universe." 

She has always been passionate about animation, specifically 2D animation, and she wanted to break the modern fast processes of drawing and kept traditional animation for her short film, looking for an older style and aesthetic, which at the same time took inspiration from her own life as she was just returning from what she describes as a "professional and spiritual trip" since she had the chance to study a summer at the world’s best animation school, Gobelins, in Paris. 

As for the inspiration of her characters, Fer says “The story is very similar to my personal story, there is not a particular person in which I decided to directly base my characters, physically there is no one I took inspiration from, but I did get some inspiration from my life experience." Growing up in a family of ice-cream makers, her father’s family being the owners of the oldest ice cream shop of Mexico City, Fernanda Lozada’s destiny seemed like it would be in the fifth generation of ice-cream makers, but her one true passion was drawing, and unlike her main character, she had all the support of her family, her father’s particularly. 

To get to show this short film to an audience was a matter of a few years, while in pre-production it always felt for the team like this was a project that should already be presented, but even with big obstacles such as the pandemic and the 2017 Mexico City earthquake they managed to finish it.


"The parallels and similarities between being a baker and a barber caught my attention, it’s very similar in the way that as a baker you put cream on top of a cake and as a barber you put shaving cream on a person, that was the excuse to make Bouclette, all that was left was placing that into a universe." 

Director Fernanda Lozada


There’s a part of your film in which Efile’s father won’t let him follow his dream but then he remembers something very important his mother told him. In various stories, the father is always represented as  someone who gives moral lessons whereas the mother approaches feelings more. Do you consider mothers as the main emotional guide in a family?

"I don’t think so, I think that was something that people believed in the past, but I think it should be divided equally. I don’t have a family of my own, I mean, I have my mother and my father passed away during the pandemic, but I think that if I started a family I would like it to be a nucleus in which both sides would provide emotional support."


When asked about what is her distinctive style of animating, Fer explains she has a fascination with goats, they’re not only her favorite animal but they have transcended into a spiritual matter, goats are brave, comedic, and agile, she believes many people identify her with that. She likes to believe her work is drawn to fantasy, and what she enjoys the most about it is that she’s able to make real something impossible in daily life, just as in her short film Bouclette.


As for the future, Fer Lozada has started to write a new short film and is set to sign a project to direct her first ever animated music video. In addition, she has teamed up with a L.A. based writer, who she had worked with previously illustrating a comic about a Mexican princess, to illustrate a series of comics that represent Latino female characters to empower Latin small girls in the US.



Director Josè Luis Isoard Arrubarrena

El Cortometraje (The Short Film)

The Short Film is the title of Director Josè Luis Isoard Arrubarrena’s very own fiction short motion picture. It tells the story of Lucìa, played by Luisa Almaguer, an actress who witnesses with her own eyes the lack of vision and range of roles for the trans community just as she is taking part in a short film.

When Jose Luis Isoard was making a music video with Luisa Almaguer, artist, activist and musician, they started to discuss the problems of representation and visibility that the trans community suffered in the film industry. She told him that almost all the roles she got were those of sex workers, and said she had no problem with the matter since she loves acting, but that there was definitely a deficit of roles on film and TV for trans women. Isoard says, "That’s when I said, 'Well, I’m going to write a short film where you’ll be an actress who’s invited to work on a short movie like the ones I make, low-budget, and she will play a character like the ones you describe and there’ll be a dialogue with the director about this situation.' It is a kind of a slice of life, it’s like letting ourselves in one of her days, it shows how it is to be a trans person in this particular circumstance." After collaborating on the script with Luisa, they started to shoot the project at one of Isoard’s friend’s apartment, even his very own roommate has a cameo. As for his collaboration with Luisa regarding their writing process, Jose Luis explains that they had zoom meetings and since this story was developed during 2020, they weren’t able to film this until last year when the pandemic chaos was slightly better, José Luis contacted friend actors and made himself a team, one in which he participated as a director, sound designer, and editor. 

When it comes to his short film’s distinctive dark photography, he says he is going through a period in which he got bored of making the photography of his productions the same way, so he invited photographer Cash Mora and gave him complete creative freedom.  He says, “The idea was using the lighting of the characters who are supposedly making the movie, not using ours. It was about playing with the idea that lights in cinema are staged, and I loved his approach." 


“The idea was using the lighting of the characters who are supposedly making the movie, not using ours. It was about playing with the idea that lights in cinema are staged, and I loved his approach." 

Director Josè Luis Isoard Arrubarrena

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Unfortunately for trans women, and the trans community in general, they are almost always locked into stereotypical roles just as you explain in your films. In which roles would you like to see them develop?

“In any kind of role, if in society they are fulfilling a role, in fiction they should also be fulfilling it. Like Luisa for example, she’s a musician, why not make a film about a trans woman who makes music? or a trans male who is an accountant?”

In his film, there’s a particular scene in which the main character, Lucía, interacts with a girl at the production of the film named Silvia, the atmosphere they create is the only moment in which the spectator is able to feel comfort, the opposite of what happens when Lucía interacts with the male members of the crew. About this scene, the director comments that he can not give an specific answer on what makes female interaction different since he is a male, but as one keeps exploring life, one is able to realize certain things, like for example when you witness feminist marches you can see the intimacy women share unlike the way men have been socialized not to share that closeness, he is aware that this kind of gentile interaction is not always that way, but that what he tried to portray on his film was the encounter of two women getting into comfort, specifically in cinema environment. 

As the head of the project, what he looks for in the actors is that they respect the text in the script, he enjoys suggestions but he likes staying true to the script. On set Jose Luis likes getting surprised by them and welcomes the unexpected. As for his style, he points out that he’s mostly interested in writing vast dialogues that show every face of the characters, but in the end his humor is the one thing he can’t get rid of, it even manages to make an appearance even in serious scenes. 

As for the future, his group of partners and collaborators called Sopa de Piedra Films are working on the post production of two feature films with Rafael Martínez Sánchez while he simultaneously developed a new script for another feature film.

With yet another edition of the Morelia film festival, we have proof that cinema is born from effort, passion, and talent, qualities possessed by these four filmmakers, whom I am infinitely grateful for their time, patience, and dedication to their craft.

Special thanks to the Department of Press and Talent Management of the Morelia International Film Festival for granting us these interviews.

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