In the Alejandro Landes film Monos, armed children living in something close to a feral state run rampant in an untamed countryside. That may evoke thoughts of Lord of the Flies, but Landes revealed recently at Deadline’s The Contenders New York that he had other references in mind.
“The main source of inspiration is the 60 years of civil war that Colombia has had,” Landes said onstage in front of a crowd of Academy and guild voters at the DGA Theater. “What we tried to do is take almost a situation of adventure — a bunch of kids who are on the top of a mountain with no one to tell them what to do — and we turn it on its head and create a sort of almost myth about a mini-society, a group of seven kids in the back line of a conflict, of a war, with no date or time.”
Monos, released theatrically by Neon, was selected as Colombia’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. Filming took place in remote areas of the Latin American nation.
“We shot the mountain that you see at the beginning at about 13,000 feet in the air, so very little oxygen…It’s a highland but it’s also wetland, extreme conditions,” the director recalled. “In the jungle we were hours in an off-road vehicle, then going down on donkeys, down a jungle canyon.”
Julianne Nicholson, who plays an American held hostage by the young militants, described the experience of making Monos as rough but rewarding.
“There was no electricity, no running water, no refrigeration. It pissed with rain every night from 10 PM to 6 AM. I mean, it was insane. But I also got to jump in the river every day and be with incredible people,” she said. “This is the project that I’m most proud of being a part of. It was incredible, not just as an actor and challenging myself that way, but just as like a person.”
Watch the conversation in the video above.
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