A pile of fifty dead bodies is a sure-fire way to catch your audience’s attention. And so it goes in Carlos Moreno’s All Your Dead Ones (Todos tus muertos), when a cross-eyed country chump named Salvador discovers this unnerving scene in the middle of his farm on election day. Shocked by the scene, he seeks help from the town’s mayor and the police lieutenant, which turns out to be a farce as the pair is only interested in covering up the scandal in the most low-key way possible. All Your Dead Ones is a ruthless look at Colombia’s political situation and we chatted with Moreno about the film before his visit to Houston.
Film Monitor: What is the motivation behind using a small cast in a satire to depict a broad social issue?
Carlos Moreno: I think the movie is kind of a satire but it is also disguised as a fable. I tried to talk about the history and political situation in Colombia. By using the humor and metaphors, I try to make some kind of political statement about our civil war. The film is a black comedy, which I think is a better way to tell how the government and civilians are dealing with our conflict. If it is a political movie without humor, the audience may not find the story interests them at all.
FM: What has inspired you to create a protagonist that is essentially the laughing stock of the town?
CM: We use characters that are like caricatures. The mayor of the town represents the government and Salvador represents the civilians. And we as civilians often take the quiet position. I want to use him to illustrate the perspective of a civilian in the conflict. That’s why it is about a man who watches in silence and does nothing. There is no hero in the film. Everyone, including politicians and drug dealers, wants to be the hero. But there is no hero in a civil war.
FM: The character of Salvador’s wife is a huge contrast to him.
CM: When we created that character, we tried to leave some questions for the audience to find their own answers. We want the audience to figure out what her relationships with the other characters are like. As a woman in the story, she can highlight the egocentric and paternal structure of the society. She is a maternal character who wants to take one of the dead bodies to the victim’s mother. Women are usually quiet in our patriarchal society. I thought why not make it a little different in the movie.
FM: The characters of the film are in denial of what’s in front of their eyes.
CM: When Colombian people talked about the situation in the country, they want to tell outsiders that there is nothing happening here. The government wants to show that this is a beautiful country with beautiful girls but no one explains what is actually happening here. Colombia is silent on the real issues. We choose to set the movie in a small town, but this is the model of the structure of power in the Colombian society.
FM: In some way, your film reminds me of what’s happening in Mexico right now.
CM: Yes, even though the conflict is different in nature. We try to make a movie that can explain the dark side of human nature—hiding from the truth of such conflicts. I am a believer of the saying, “Talk about a small village and you will be universal.” The first time I saw a shot of a pile of dead bodies was not in Colombia. I saw it in a book about the World War II. So one part of the movie is universally human and the other part is Colombian.
FM: How do the surrealist moments in the film come into play?
CM: The movie is a metaphor. Those moments are used to catch the audience’s attention. Also, I want to give some humanity to the dead bodies. Casualty is not just a number. There are people behind the statistics.
All Your Dead Ones will be playing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on 4/29 (9:00pm) and 4/30 (7:00 pm).