A Zoom-facilitated love-in was celebrated by nearly two-dozen cast and crew members of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros, which has been given a major technical overhaul on the occasion of its 20th birthday. The director’s first feature, which won the top prize in the Critics Week sidebar at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, has become the beneficiary of a 4K digital restoration and a 5.1 surround DTS-HD remix that Criterion will release in December, as well as a hoped-for public premiere in Morelia.
The Wednesday afternoon event was a relaxed affair that gave many participants the opportunity to thank the director who helped re-energize the Mexican film industry with a vital and edgy drama that told three stories linked to a Mexico City auto accident, one of them notoriously involving fighting dogs and the gambling underworld. The film instantly launched its director into a major international career that saw him win Oscars in back-to-back years for Birdman and The Revenant.
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The prevailing theme on the part of the actors participating in the Mexico City-based event was how they learned, or re-learned, how to act and behave onscreen due to González Iñárritu’s immersive approach to his material. Adriana Barraza spoke of an “initiation ceremony” that occurred at the start of filming that inspired the performers to “act in a different way,” with actor Álvaro Guerrero at least half-joking that, “The dogs were treated better than we were.”
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Writer Alejandro Soberón, who initially produced 300-page screenplay for the film, admitted that it was a very ambitious project for a first-time director. He recalled being at a Hollywood party with Warren Beatty at which the latter, after speaking to the director awhile, predicted that, “Hollywood will steal him.”
Amores Perros, which was originally titled White Dog, Black Dog, became more and more expensive as production went along. It represented the first production backed by producer-financier Francisco Gonzalez, who soon realized that the budget was going to far exceed initial estimates, a situation exacerbated at one point when gangsters turned up at one location to rob the production, only to be eventually asked to take part in the film.
Storyboard artist Fernando Llanos also spoke of shooting in dangerous areas as well as of the debuting director’s infatuation at the time with both Wong Kar Wai and Lars von Trier, whose influences were felt.
González Iñárritu has directed just six features over the past 20 years and has not as yet mentioned any future projects.
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