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Clemente Castor

Clemente Castor
In Príncipe de Paz (FID 2019), young mexicans wandered between city and country, faced with the enigma of a giant skeleton. Atados los años engullen la terra works with the same motifs and embodies them in two figures: a young man and a young woman, born of a volcano whose eruption, in a stunning opening shot, is announced by the image’s chromatic disruption. He roams through the jungle, opening the gates of perception. She faces the devastation of nature by man, before opening herself to social interactions and compassion. A dialectic of the immense and the intimate, the natural and the social, daily time and mythical time: between cosmic riddle and visual splendor, Clemente Castor takes another giant step forward. (Nathan Letoré)

Interview with Clemente Castor

After Principe de Paz in 2019, this film also focuses on different geological strata and people exploring them, in liminal spaces between city and countryside. How did this project originate?

It emerges from an interest in volcanoes and the landscape that surrounds the place where I grew up. The film was shot in the Sierra de Santa Catarina, a volcanic axis to the east of Mexico City. In the 1950s, the painter Dr. Atl dedicated himself to promoting one of the most ambitious urban projects in post-revolutionary Mexico: “Olinka,” the ideal city, where the artistic, intellectual and scientific elite aimed “to change the history of humanity and the cosmos”. The profoundly exclusive city intended to channel evolution towards a new goal, towards the real conquest of the universe. This project was attempted in the Sierra de Santa Catarina, which in the middle of the last century was still an uninhabited place. Today it is barely identifiable, since it is surrounded by one of the densest demographic spots in the country. There are plans of this city inside the craters of the volcano “La Caldera”. I was very interested in exploring the East through this story, I felt that this historical context helped make a juxtaposition between the Mexico that was intended to be and the Mexico that is now and how it is represented.

Your film is built around two figures: a young man, always seen alone in natural settings, and a young woman, who interacts with other people. Why this dual structure of opposites? What relation between man and his environment did you want to explore?

The young people represent these two spheres that come out of the volcano in the first scene. That is, it was a speculation about these characters: to speculate on the non-human. To imagine that the look is not anchored to a motionless eye that produces facts. Although very different in intentions, the characters in the film come from an imaginary that Gerardo Murillo creates, without searching for truths or absolutes, as in his science fiction novels. Characters that come from different territories, that come out of the interior of the earth and that cross the cosmos in search of “truths”, not completely human. It was important that the two characters woke up in different places near the volcano. On the one hand, he wakes up surrounded by nature and his interaction with space is through it, with the water, the plants and his memories. And with her it was to see contemporary Mexico in the east of the city. The relationship with the sound of the city, the machines, and with the people that surround these places. In the end, the two characters have very different concerns and are astonished by different things… Both serve as observers, travel through a territory charged with the idea of a post-revolutionary Mexico of “progress” that does not exist, the Santa Catarina mountain range converted into mines, and the volcanoes surrounded by the demographic strain. They go through the last day with the same uncertainty about the end.

The passing of time plays a key yet enigmatic role: the dead are remembered, mention is made of a « last day »… What function did you want time to play in the film?

The film is temporarily located on the last day of time, the day of the new fire ceremony celebrated by the Mexica (Aztecs). That is why I chose the title “Tied years.” The ceremony of the new fire was considered the greatest of all the celebrations by the ancient Mexica, temporarily located at the conclusion of the thirteen turns of the four signs of the years to complete the century. This happened every 52 years, when the years tie together. The fire dies and through the offering a new stage begins, when everything begins as a spiral for another century. Thinking about this film a lot in my personal life felt like an ending, and presenting this end of the contemporary world was like a kind of relief of time.

Chromatic changes play a significant role: in the opening shot, but also in the final shift to black and white. Why this importance of reworking the images’ colour?

One of the first images that came to my mind when I began to imagine the film was the sky completely dyed red. How that color came from the eruption of a volcano and dyed everything around it, and how with that chromatic change it affected the emotions of the characters as well. At first it had been decided that the entire last part of the film would be in red because it changes in a scene, but it was decided to leave it in b&w since we had filmed with film directly in b&w. Leaving it that way also gave us this feeling that time was changing and that last day was drawing near. I remember that a friend had told me that when Krakatoa erupted in 1883, some German expressionist painters had painted pictures with the reddish color of the sky that had come very far. This image was very much engraved in my head.

Interview by Nathan Letoré

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Technical sheet

Mexico / 2022 / Colour and Black & white / 16 mm / 40’

Original version : spanish
Subtitles : english
Script : Clemente Castor
Photography : Andrea C
Nieto, Emilianna Vazquez
Montage : Clemente Castor
Sound : Laura Carillo, Gerardo Martinez
With : Romina Soriano, David Gamaliel, Beatriz Hernández
Production : Karla Hernández (Salón de Belleza), Maximiliano Cruz (FICUNAM)
Distribution : Alejandra Villalba (Salón de Belleza).
Filmography : fantasma, animal, 2021
Príncipe de Paz, 2019.