On September 21, David Zonana’s recent film, “Heroico,” will premiere in movie theaters in Mexico, starring Santiago Sandoval Carbajal, Fernando Cuautle, Mónica del Carmen, Esteban Caicedo, Carlos Gerardo García and Isabel Yudice . After the good reception of his debut feature “Mano de Obra” (2019), the director and screenwriter now presents this film where he once again shows social criticism, focusing this time on the military.
The film has already had an important run at festivals such as Sundance – where it had its international premiere –, the Berlin Film Festival, FICUNAM and the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG38) where it won the Mayahuel Award for Best Actor for Fernando Cuautle , Mezcal Award for Best Mexican Feature Film, Young Jury Award and FIPRESCI Award.
Regarding the premiere, EL INFORMADOR spoke with the actor Fernando Cuautle, who plays Sergeant “Eugenio Sierra”, who as the figure of “Luis”’s superior (the protagonist) generates tension and shows the dark side of military power through of their attitudes and expressions.
“We did very well at the FICG. And now we are very excited that on September 21 people will be able to see the film. We were very excited to see the reaction of the Mexican public, because of course its premiere was different than at Sundance or Berlin. So, there have been very shocking reactions because the film is crude.“It has very strong images,” says the actor regarding the impressions of audiences who saw the film at national festivals, as there were those who even approached the team to tell them about cases similar to the one portrayed in the plot.
“At some point a lady told us… ‘listen, but it is a very respected institution (the Heroic Military College), how dare you say this.’ But what we told him is that this is based on real testimonies. It is great that the dialogue opens and I think this is a small clue of what is to come.” And the plot shows the hardness that many young people face when searching for their place in the world.
“Especially on an emotional and psychological level, because beyond the physical tests that exist to enter the school, from the first year that the cadets manage to enter (these are strong). “Precisely the film denounces these practices where there is humiliation,” says Fernando, who also highlights that the film questions whether this is right and if it is necessary for a soldier to be trained like this in an institution like this. “Because also, when they leave, what they experienced during those years at school already has repercussions at a national level. So, it’s pretty strong.”
Violence is perpetuated
Cuautle’s character stands out as a figure opposite to the typical villain, because although he always appears with a sinister air, this is hidden behind his apparent calm and smile. “My character is a sergeant who has been at school for a few years and I just think that he reflects violence in a perfect way. Ques being the cadets in the first year where they are known as ‘colts‘where they are suffering this constant violence from other students who have been in the institution for a long time, there are two of them, either they do not resist and it is completely human not to want to suffer that violence and leave, or they manage to move on to the next year and what is going to happen is that they are going to want to get even, (because they will believe) that this is what the chain is like,” reflects the actor.
To build his character, Fernando highlights that he had the opportunity to interact with former cadets, who also act in the film. “It was very enriching to know that there are people who had been there. So I began to nourish myself with those first-hand experiences with what they lived, with what they felt and what it is like to develop in there, which is a completely different world, what they eat and how they dress, I took all of that and kept it in images, because as an actor, above all I work with the imagination, at the same time I worked with David (the director), who was guiding me, especially because we wanted to create a character who was not the bad villain and who only screamed and wanted to impose his power, but on the contrary, a character who, with a smile, was a little more seductive.”
On an acting and personal level, Fernando was very moved to hear these testimonies and realize how violence is perpetuated with these “teaching” mechanisms.
“Luis” is a Mexican teenager who decides to enter the Heroico Military School thinking about a better future for his mother and himself. However, little by little he will discover that the system for building soldiers with “character” involves many unpleasant attitudes. Subjected physically and psychologically until being molded by the system and transformed into a perfect soldier, “Luis” will learn that being part of this world is anything but heroic.
Get the latest news in your email
Everything you need to know to start your day
Registering implies accepting the Terms and Conditions