When he was nine years, Cesar Diaz has left Guatemala to join her mother in Mexico, sought by the military police. His father, of which he has no memory, is part of the “missing policies”. Later, it will consider successively the cinema in Brussels and Paris, without suspecting that the “7th art” would allow him to exhume the genocide, which left 200 000 dead and 45 000 people missing.
The Sun has discussed with the producer of his very beautiful and moving Our mothers (Nuestras Madres), Camera d’or at Cannes in 2019 and Magritte for Best first feature film in Belgium, a country that he has represented for the Oscars.
The life of these ironies. Reached by telephone, the man, 41-year-old is stuck… in Guatemala because of the COVID-19 — he was on a visit to the home of her mother, who returned there to live. Diaz has his roots and the memories that have deeply marked, even if “it is the country that I’ve lived the least long.” It now has “one foot on two continents”.
Our mothers focuses on Ernesto, a young anthropologist at the Foundation medico-legal work, in 2018, to the identification of victims of the civil war and the massacres in mayan villages. A index the met on the track of her dead father, that her mother, who had fought at his side, prefers to forget. Then begins an investigation to enable him to exorcise this scourge that haunts it — just like the filmmaker…
Cesar Diaz insists : “My story is not as tragic as that of Ernesto, fortunately.” But “it has helped me to construct and understand the characters. After they grew up, have become self-reliant. There is no interest to tell my life, not distance, not of the artistic gesture. It looks a little bit the belly button when doing this kind of offer. I am inspired, but this is not me.”
But the director, whose career began in the documentary, did not hesitate to blur the lines between reality and fiction. Thus, when Ernesto tries to update a common grave, the women of the village were actually lived in the abduction and the massacre of their husbands and loved ones. “I wanted to integrate. This genocide has existed”, he explains.
The filmmaker also wanted to include this community who has welcomed us” with generosity during filming, despite the pain of reliving their trauma. “All that participated in the construction of the narrative. This is not a whim of the director. This is something that I held close to heart and that has been a part since the beginning of the writing of the film.”
As for César Diaz, the film was a perfect vehicle to demonstrate the impact of the murders on the population of a small country in central America, 25 years after the fact. “I wanted to explore this subject through images and sounds. Because it is a way to create a dialogue with the viewer that is unique. It is a complete experience : it’s not just the intellectual aspect, there’s also all the emotions that are involved in this experience.”