Former IFFR Critic Trainee Juan Daniel F. Molero is back at the festival with his first feature-length fiction, Videophilia (and Other Viral Syndromes), screening in the Hivos Tiger Awards Competition. “The film is a lot at the same time”, sounds like an understatement for Molero’s mash-up.
Two Lima youngsters meet, first virtually and then in real life. Luz is a teen discovering sexuality and Junior a conspiracy theorist making amateur porn. Molero wanted to unite all the languages we see in our everyday life and on our screens, including animated gifs and glitches. He believes our brain doesn’t separate between them once we’re in the outer world. Having lived for only fifty years with screens, the brain can’t evolve that fast. “So in the film, everything clashes. Not outside, but inside us.”
Molero describes his film as a “hack” of different genres: comedy, boy-meets-girl movie, apocalypse and supernatural cinema. All put together in “this kind of Frankenstein film”, at once (non-)fiction, experimental and video art. “I feel very comfortable in those middle grounds”, he explains. “In high school I hung out with the stoners but also with the geeks, in the limbo between being a freak or cool. So what am I?”
The filmmaker points out how syncretism – the melding of different, often seemingly contradictory beliefs – has always been part of Peruvian culture. When the Andean people conquered or were conquered, they always took from the other what they felt was better and integrated it. This is seen in religion, food and music. Molero’s film too touches on those grounds of appropriation. “It’s collage without found footage; you can collage upon culture, your own work and aesthetics.”
Molero’s mix-up is a reflection on how technology and media affect the way of seeing ourselves, life, time and space. He believes the fall of president Alberto Fujimori in 2000 relates to how at the same moment his generation welcomed the internet and blogging. Fujimori was brought down through the release of videotapes documenting corruption in all levels of society, including the media. “That gave our generation distrust and a loss of innocence.” Lead actress Muki Sabogal adds that the former ruler’s system of using the tabloid press hasn’t changed. “His virus is still there.” Dealing with porn, drugs, murder and mysticism, Videophilia deploys these same tactics to decode and counterattack: “Although not involved with politics on a basic level, the form is political.”
Molero deems European and South American cinema too preoccupied with realism. A possible fit for the Surrealist Really? Really programme, Videophilia could just be the most “fucked-up” movie in the competition.