Finally getting to see Cold Sweat, as well as Penumbra at this years Fantastic Fest cemented in my mind that Adrian Garcia Bogliano is a filmmaker to watch. That such flimsy plots could still deliver such suspense and outright genre thrills bears testimony to his craftsmanship. I can only wonder what would happen if he got his hands on a really complex tight script. The chance to talk to him, in conjunction with the stateside DVD release of Cold Sweat by Dark Sky Films, was a real treat.
DC: Are you going to keep making these kinds of films? Is genre where you feel you belong?
AGB: I love genre and definitely want to keep making genre films. Of course any film you make needs to approached individually. Penumbra and, especially Cold Sweat were less about script than raw experience. Cold Sweat is a roller-coaster, it is meant, first and foremost, as a sort of exhausting thrill ride. I don't mean this in a pretentious way at all, but we had Indiana Jones in mind here, where the audience is always on the edge of their seat wondering what is going to happen next.
DC: Is that cheating the audience?
AGB: Not at all. I think you can do what I'm talking about without cheap thrills but at the same time use the elements that people associate with genre to get the audience where you want them to be. Ultimately, having fun and making perfect logical sense are mutually exclusive
DC: It's interesting that, given the fact that the film is more of a simple genre thrill-ride, that you choose to incorporate such political imagery and plot elements.
AGB: These elements are such a huge part of my country that they tend to weave themselves into our stories at this point, even simple stories, or light entertainments. The truth is, that I very much wanted to make this movie because it did contain those elements, it is utterly Argentinian, even as a genre film that is influenced by the cinema of other countries.
DC: Does it make enough of a statement for you about Argentina and it's rocky history?
AGB: Our history is at a high point right now. It's very good. All countries have rocky histories if you look deep enough. Argentina particularly so in the seventies, which we show through photographs. It is natural to use horror to point this out. It need go no deeper. On some level you are letting the world know, you are reminding. This period is very important to me personally. I had a few members of my family kidnapped and killed. It is true that filmmakers typically use drama or documentary to comment on these types of things but there is a whole generation of young people right now in Argentina who want no reminders of the past, and giving them a fun genre movie, I think, is a good way to get around that.
DC: It's interesting because in America I think we are at a point where not only many younger people, but people, in general, can relate to the idea of social unrest and revolution. Things feel like a powder keg that might blow or that a fuse has been lit and the explosion is inevitable.
AGB: What goes on in one country affects another. We have our understanding of Argentine history and what we have gone through is certainly relevant to the rest of the world. It is a pleasure to know I am dealing in universals. It makes a grand conversation possible even if the film only provides a simple springboard. Of course the irony is that Cold Sweat is very influenced by the films of other nations, particularly the US. Learn from everyone is what I say but we did want to make a film that took place in and dealt with things that seemed uniquely Argentinian. Very gratifyingly we did not hear back from people of my generation that they were upset by the way we dealt with those subjects in the film.
DC: Without oversimplifying things I think it's fair to say that, in the states, genre film has typically been about providing audiences with some sort of escape and, of late, in Europe, and especially Spanish speaking countries, it has been about having something to say, especially in terms of national identity.
AGB: Yet so many filmmakers have been influenced in such a deep way by the American horror films that are the exception to this rule. Take The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) for instance. Yes the established modern genre elements and the monsters and the blood and sex of many films have all been influences but the raw power of that film alone is amazing. It tells the story of people who have been left behind, forsaken and become monstrous and how the young pay for it. Such storytelling has not always been the hallmark of American horror cinema but when it has been it has been explosive in it's ability to inspire others.
DC: How has Penumbra been received?
AGB: Our main feedback has been through Fantastic Fest. They screened it many times there and audiences seemed to be responsive and have a lot of fun with it. Too say the least we are so grateful. It is a very different film from Cold Sweat.
DC: What's next?
AGB: We are working with MPI on a project that starts shooting in Tijuana and California in a couple of months. It's titled, Here Comes The Devil. It's different in that it is purely a supernatural horror film and of course we are working with a lot more resources at our disposal as well as knowing our film will be seen all around the world. It's a very exciting time. We have been very free. The film will be in Spanish which was very important to us.
DC: Looking back on the things that got you here what are you most grateful for?
AGB: We have not had to sacrifice the things that are most personal to us in making our films. It seems a bit silly considering the nature of genre films to talk of such things. But to us, we don't want to be limited by our own vision. So many filmmakers make an indie film for a small amount, have some success and then see that success as primarily a way to make more expensive films. It seems so odd to me. This is not the important thing, this is not the personal thing. Telling good stories, making your audience glad they came to the theater or rented the movie, continuing to be able to work. Movies find their audience mostly later. History reduces most men. It is good not to be spoiled by success.