An Interview with Anapola
Mushkadiz, star of the motion picture Battle In Heaven (Batalla en el
cielo/2005) out on DVD from Tartan Home Video.
Nicholas Sheffo –
FulvueDrive-in.com: Hello. Your new film Battle In Heaven deals
with a young lady from a good military family who leads a double life involved
in working at an expensive brothel.
Very controversial for its sexual aspects, as well as socio-political
implications, the film has gained a reputation for controversy and
risk-taking. It seems to me that slowly
but surely, a sort of Mexican New Wave is building. Do you see that?
Anapola Mushkadiz: Yes.
Mexico right now is an amazing place to live. 60 years ago, there was a major music boom, which is now happening
again these past few years in all the arts.
Musicians in the country are playing worldwide. People in and out of the country are being
very supportive, but especially in film.
Fulvue: As a quick aside, what
do you think of Robert Rodriguez as filmmaker; since he is the best know of his
AM: His work is not my kind of
cinema, the kind that I adore, but I like how he is taking Mexico with him in
what he does.
Fulvue: He is more of a genre
filmmaker, Horror, Action, Noir, as opposed to making features that exceed
genres, as good as his work is.
Fulvue: Part of this is being
able to deal with humans, people and sexuality in a more direct way. You were quoted as saying sex and nudity are
big taboos today, but it was not that long ago that even Hollywood cinema was
able to handle the subject quite well, and on a normal basis.
AM: I do not even think of the relations as sex first, which is the
problem. Instead, it is sex beyond sex.
Fulvue: Versus sex as a gaudy
Las Vegas nightclub act, something manufactured and plastic as you have said?
AM: Right, not the usual scene, but with a deeper emotion and more
Fulvue: It seems there was a real regression in this
respect in Hollywood cinema of the 1980s.
Do you see that too?
AM: Yes. The sex is no longer
sex. First you had porn that
objectified things, private things, then home video came in and then DVD.
Fulvue: Which helped sell those formats initially.
AM: But there is no real human nature in any of that, which misses
some amazing things. To think just 50 –
60 years ago we were just starting to explore these things, as in the films of
filmmakers like Pasolini. They made
films about people and the sexuality was with the intimacy.
Fulvue: It seems like there is too much shallow sex
and anything resembling real human intimacy is too much for mass media to
AM: One way or another, it is not art.
Fulvue: Well, with the censorship-crazy people on
the Politically Correct Left and Radical Right in the U.S. cutting into freedom
of expression, this is not helping the situation at all.
AM: No it is not. A piece of
art, like it or not, is not made of you.
Art is not just supposed to be seen through one eye, but has to be done
so that everything you can talk about and show; everything imaginable is out
there. People should not take those
kinds of things that personal. They
need to give art its space.
Fulvue: There are critics who analyze and
overanalyze films. Since you are a lady
in an intimate position in the film with a male director, the immediate
feminist criticism will be that you were being objectified or used by a man
intentionally or not, and that this would be sexist by default. What was it like to work with director
AM: Great! He gives good direction
without restricting the actors. For
instance, if he simply told someone to look at a window, he left it at that,
allowing the actors to use their judgment and abilities to decide where to go
Fulvue: Nice to have a director who gives actors
their space. This then translates into
how well he would handle human intimacy?
AM: Yes. There is the rude,
real cold version of sex versus the real, for real beauty of human intimacy and
contact. A more instinctual, natural
Fulvue: Like in 1960s cinema?
AM: Again, going back 60 years ago.
There is a Mexican position in cinema, a new move that is defining
itself as never before.
Fulvue: What about the issue of film vs. video? Do you find video of any sort a bit weird
when it comes to shooting people?
AM: Yes, a bit weird. I still
have my typewriter. (Laughs.) A challenge for people who start using
digital, though it is going into amazing places, is to get texture and
atmosphere into the work. It needs to
get into the digital. You can go
through history in film, but digital always looks new, with no age to it.
Fulvue: That’s not good. Even when video ages, it is over a slower period. Not only does it often have that phony new,
live TV look, it is a bit phony in a generic sense.
AM: I agree, people should not only go for technology, like
digital. We need both sides of the
coin. Film offers so much video and digital
cannot and do not.
Fulvue: The automatic thing I always hear is that
video will catch up. Why wait? It is a bad argument and you can have happy
accidents with film you never get in digital or video.
Fulvue: Which brings me to your cinematographer
Diego Martinez Vignatti, who plays a soccer player in the film at one
point. He shot the film on film. What can you tell me about him and his work?
AM: Diego met Carlos in Belgium and they shared their work with each
other, then they hit it off and that is how they came to collaborate on our
Fulvue: Now many filmmakers who are shooting on film
are actually gutting out the color [through DI/Digital Internegative] to make
color films look like bad black and white.
How does this figure in Battle In Heaven?
AM: It was not that way at all, the total opposite. They were great about color, all the way to
choosing clothes very carefully as part of color palette. That was so wonderful about working with
them, because we do not see this enough.
Fulvue: That sounds great. It seems because of video, too many of the new directors and
cameramen are afraid of color, have a sort of “color-phobia” and that just adds
to the generic nature of most of what we see too often. That has to get in the way of the intimacy
Fulvue: Miss Mushkadiz, I wanted to thank you again
for taking the time to do this interview with us. We look forward to seeing Battle In Heaven on Tartan Video
and a review for it will follow on the site any day now. Good luck with the film and your
career. Please keep in touch.
AM: Thank you.