One of our favorite foreign films at Sundance was All Your Dead Ones, directed by Colombia’s Carlos Moreno. It’s a slightly absurdist fable in which a poor farmer finds a pile of dead bodies dumped in his field on election day. The story is slow-moving but powerful, the acting is wonderful (especially by lead Alvaro Rodriguez and by Jorge Herrema as the mayor), and the cinematography is marvelous (the film won a Special Jury award for cinematography). Moreno sat down with Paste for a few minutes in Park City, just a few hours before he won his award.
All Your Dead Ones is a political movie, but not in an obvious way. It’s political in a more symbolic, subversive way.
Carlos Moreno: Obviously, the film makes an approximation to political issues in our society. But we wanted to go beyond that. Instead of talking about our way of doing things in Colombia, we wanted to talk more about the human condition, and how the drama relates to human beings in those kind of situations. Tolstoy said, “Talk about your village and you will be universal.”
Paste: I think that the action that’s taken has a lot to say about every man doing his part. Maybe not fixing the entire situation, but doing what you can with what’s in front of you.
Moreno: Yes. We also have been quoting a line that says “One human being killed is a tragedy, but one thousand killed is just a statistic.” So gong back to the human condition, any human being in that situation will immediately create a distance. “You can’t blame me for this, so I don’t have any responsibility in this situation.” That’s what we always do. That’s why the name of the film is All YOUR Dead Ones. Not mine. They’re looking for someone to blame for all of that, instead of looking at what their responsibility is, in that situation. It doesn’t matter if that massacre happened one meter away or on the other side of the world; you have a responsibility. To take it or not, that’s your decision.
Paste: You had brilliant casting for your main role. If you had a Gael Garcia Bernal or an Antonio Banderas or some really good-looking actor in that role, the movie would not have been as good. It’s wonderful that you have this humble, physically unassuming guy as your hero.Tell me about that choice.
Moreno: We didn’t have a formal casting; everyone in the film was invited to be in the film. And the script was actually originally written for Alvaro Rodriguez. He is one of the most well-known and best actors in Colombia. We worked with him before in Perro Como Perro, and that experience created a friendship. One condition that I brought to the table was that not only did the people all have to be actors, but they all had to have experience writing. Not to rewrite the script, but to help create the universe.
Paste: I love that the film begins and ends with a scene of lovemaking. Tell me about what that means to you.
Moreno: That scene is like a prologue and an epilogue. It goes deeper into the character and tells about how he behaves in an intimate situation. But beyond that, it illustrates how nothing is going to change. Everything goes back to normal, and the cycle is not going to be broken. It keeps going.
Paste: Is your original background in theater? I ask because of the ending scene.
Moreno: No. But the film comes with some theatrical elements. All the actors have a deep experience and training in theater, so it kind of came out of that. And in fact, there is a project to make a play based on the story.