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Sight & Sound Interview Bernardo Pérez Soler : With a long career in Mexican media behind him, the 37-year-old director was far from unknown in his home country when Amores perros premiered at Cannes 2000, winning the critics' week prize then being nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Foreign-Language Film and going on to be a big hit in Mexico itself. At the age of 23 Iñárritu was a disc jockey, producer and director at WFM, one of two rock radio stations that revolutionised Mexico City's youth culture in the mid and late 80s; in 1990 he left to take over the production of promotional spots for Mexico's largest television network. Shortly afterwards he founded Zeta Films, a hybrid of advertising agency and production company responsible for some of the most memorable commercials seen on Mexican television in the past decade. He has also directed Detrás del dinero/After the Money, a pilot for a series which even by his own admission was a failure: technically accomplished but bogged down by an overly loose plot. Bernardo Pérez Soler: The screenplay for 'Amores perros' was the result of a three-year collaboration with novelist Guillermo Arriaga Jordán. You've said you have almost antagonistic views of the world, so what allowed you to establish a working relationship? Alejandro González Iñárritu: Where we were in agreement was regarding the deficiencies of Mexican cinema. We loathe the government-financed movie-making that seems to operate by the maxim: "If nobody understands and nobody goes to see a movie, that must mean it's a masterpiece."Among Mexican film-makers claiming to make "art cinema" there seems to be no interest in allowing audiences to connect emotionally with what's happening on screen. So what got us started was that resentment, that anger. Our aim was to make movies that would admit different readings and reflections, rattling the audience while being entertaining. How did the script for 'Amores perros' evolve? At the beginning Guillermo talked to me

about its basic structure - that it was about different characters coming into contact with each other through their dogs and through a car crash. I told him an anecdote about a friend's dog that died after getting trapped underneath the floorboards, which Guillermo then incorporated into the script. It took us the longest time to finish the first episode: practically a year. To begin with it was totally different: it had no brother, no sister-in-law, it was a very naive, romantic love story between Octavio and the girl next door. Over that first year this episode became much stronger. By contrast, the other two sections remained almost as they were conceived. So we spent the next two years editing the script. It was tough to slim it down; we got rid of about 40 pages. The hardest part, however, was managing to put the different chapters together with subtlety, so the hand of the writer and director go unnoticed. You both spent your childhoods in working -class neighbourhoods of Mexico City. Did you have direct contact with dogfights during those years? I think a movie like Amores perros could only have been conceived by someone who's lived this long in a city like the one we live in. As for dogs, Guillermo had a very fierce Rottweiler called Cofi, like the one in the movie, that also killed a fight dog in the street. But while we were both aware of clandestine dogfighting, neither of us had ever been near any of it. So before the shooting I had to go along to a couple of fights to find out what they're like - who organises them, where they happen, what are the stakes, what language the participants use. The critic Jonathan Romney has said that each of the stories in 'Amores perros' belongs to a different genre: the first is "hard, low-life realism", the second a "cruel moral tale of the unexpected", the third a psychological thriller. Was attaining this balance between different genres one of your aims? Guillermo and I have discussed that. For him, Amores perros is indeed an experiment in genres, but not so much so for 16

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