to British distribution, Gonzalez Inarritu is open to suggestions about cuts. "If it was just frames, maybe. But if they wanted me to take out the dogfights, that would be impossible. They are part of the motion of the story and the characters." The movie is an intricately plotted portmanteau of three stories, linked by a car crash and told at carcrash speed. The first story has a group of povertylevel kids getting involved in the illicit and extremely violent dog-fighting scene; the second is a macabre Tale of the Unexpected about a supermodel, a luxury apartment and an ill-fated lapdog; and the third features an itinerant hitman who moves through different levels of city society, bringing all the strands together. Gonzalez Inarritu insists that context is very much a mitigating factor, and that the dogfighting theme is part of an overall panorama of life in his home town. "I wanted to make a film about Mexico City, where there are millions of dogs. The dogfight is a cruel reality. But more than the fights, we were interested in the relations between dogs and people."
made up and drugged for 20 minutes at a time. The film's animal trainer is very respected in animal welfare circles, Gonzalez Inarritu says - "and he used his own dogs, so he cared about them". In Mexico, where the film has been a big hit, the press hardly commented on the animal cruelty question. There will certainly be more of a problem here. The British Board of Film Classification is rigorous about films that show or even suggest animal violence, saying: "Baiting animals is a no-no as far as we are concerned, no matter how good the film is." While the subject matter could be a serious obstacle
He and his screenwriter, novelist Guillermo Arriaga Jordan, took on the city with Balzacian ambition, tackling it on various levels, from low-life to penthouse. "Many Mexican directors," he says, "are scared to shoot in Mexico City, which is why there are many stories in Mexican cinema about little rural towns, or set a hundred years ago. It's difficult to shoot there, not just technically but because it's such a complex mix. All the city's frontiers are falling - now you see rich districts where there are a lot of 13