Gael García Bernal said acting for the likes of Oscar winners Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón helped groom him for the director’s chair and praised cinema as “the only medium” that allows artists to “explore the gray areas” in unparalleled ways.
“The world is so full of certainties now, and cinema is the one that can open up those spaces with poetry and really provoke,” he said.
The Mexican multi-hyphenate was appearing at the Sarajevo Film Festival after a special screening of his second directorial feature, “Chicuarotes.” Earlier this week, the festival handed an Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award to Iñárritu, who directed Bernal in his breakout role in “Amores Perros.”
Speaking at a masterclass on Wednesday, Bernal discussed some of his influences as an actor and director, as well as the inspiration behind “Chicuarotes,” which world premiered out of competition in Cannes. Set in San Gregorio Atlapulco, a down-at-the-heels district of Mexico City, the film is the story of two teens who decide that a life of crime is the only way out of the poverty around them.
“I wanted to really investigate where violence comes from,” said Bernal, speaking to a full house at Sarajevo’s Meeting Point Cinema after the screening. “On the other hand, I wanted to see what it does to direct a film where the main character didn’t grow up with love. Because I grew up the opposite way.”
Born and raised in Guadalajara, Bernal began his acting career in Mexican telenovelas before landing a part in the Oscar-nominated “Amores Perros.” He credited Iñárritu and Cuarón as two of the directors who most shaped him as an actor, describing his work on Cuarón’s “Y Tu Mamá También” as “one of the best experiences I ever had.”
It was through Cuarón that Bernal also began to envision a different role for himself behind the camera. “Of course I always liked cinema, but I never thought of directing a film,” he said. “Through [Cuarón], I started to feel like, ‘Okay. You can build a dynamic. You can create everything [yourself].’”
He added: “This kind of companionship and this brotherhood or sorority that he orchestrates is something that I really treasure. I want all films to be like that, to be in that dynamic.”, Variety reports.