"I think it would be awful if people just thought, 'Yeah, it's okay'; that would really hurt my feelings."
Regardless of whether you like it or not - and opinion is certainly divided on the film's merits - Carlos Reygadas' Battle in Heaven is undeniably one of the more memorable films of 2006, from the first shot to the last. Shot with a cast of non-actors, it tells the story of Marcos, a chauffeur, and his love for his passenger, Ana - their relationship takes a darker turn, when a kidnapping staged by Marcos and his wife goes wrong. But Marcos is the only character who knows Ana leads a double life: although a child of Mexico's political elite, Ana amuses herself by working as a prostitute in a high-end brothel.
Largely because of its unflinching depiction of sex - which does not follow the usual Hollywood "pretty bodies" approach - controversy has inevitably followed Battle, from Cannes, through an enforced shift of its screening location at the Sundance Film Festival [it was originally scheduled to be shown in a high-school!]. And, with its release earlier this month by Tartan Video USA, it doesn't look likely to provoke more discussion, especially in a country which still lags some way behind in terms of sexual openness (see the "censored" cover art necessary here, below). We spoke with Anapola Muskadiz, who plays Ana, about the film.
Trash City: Firstly, I have to admit, we haven't actually seen the film yet. So all we know about the film is what we've read, and from seeing the trailer. Now, this might be a good thing, in that I have an open mind. How would you describe the movie?
Like the actors, you aren't a professional. Tell me about your background. Did you have any interest in acting?
Mushkadiz isn't a Mexican name?
How did you get involved with the film?
Did you see a script?
Is your character, Ana, like you?
Why do you think Ana works as a prostitute?
The relationship between Ana and Marcos is complex - what are your feelings about it?
How have your family and friends reacted to the movie?
Do you want to continue acting as a career?
You went to Cannes - what was that like?
How would you sum up the film's message, and what do you think about the religious elements?
The reviews seem deeply split: it seems to be a film people either love or hate. What would you say to someone who hated it?
Spot the Difference...
[Tartan Video USA released the film on May 7th, with the DVD including a behind-the-scenes documentary, an interview with the director and clips from his first film, Japon. Subsequent to the interview, we have now seen this film: it's reviewed here. Many thanks to Debbi at Tartan for arranging the interview, and Anapola for putting up with our ignorance!]