Octubre, the first feature film from Peruvian brothers Daniel and Diego Vega, is a deadpan dark comedy incorporating influences ranging from Jim Jarmush and Aki Kaurismaki to Robert Bresson, and winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival-Un Certain Regard. Coming out amidst a wave of recent Peruvian successes such as Claudia Llosa's La Teta Asustada (The Milk of Sorrow, 2009) and Javier Fuentes-León's ContracorrienteUndertow, 2010), Octubre is another stunning example of the creative new work coming from this region.
Released by New Yorker Films, Octubre opens theatrically in New York City on May 6. The following interview of co-director Diego Vega was conducted upon the film’s North American premiere at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
Michael Guillén: October is an enchanting fable and the line that jumped out of the movie at me was: "Poor is not someone who has little but he who wants a lot." This struck me as the lesson of your film's fable, particularly because your main character Clemente is a money lender who somehow misses the true value of his transactions. How did you and your brother go about developing this story? Did one of you write it? Did you both write it?
Diego Vega: We started on October quite a long time ago. The first idea came after I graduated from film school—I studied at Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión in Cuba—and when I came back to Peru, I was full of films and emotions from having been at the school. I liked Robert Bresson's films a lot and had seen his last film L'Argent many times. As you might remember, L'Argent is about a counterfeit bill that crosses the lives of many characters with tragic consequences.
Guillén: Fascinating! I failed to make that connection.
Vega: Well, also in Peru, we have a lot of fake money in circulation. Peru has a "fake" culture in the sense of piracy. Everything is sold as something it's not. You buy something and it's not the real designer label; it's not the original. It's common for Peruvians to be suspicious and scrutinizing when anyone pays them with paper money. Whether it's paying for a taxi, going to a small store, eating at a restaurant, anywhere, people will always check the money you are handing them to see if it's fake. So the influence of Bresson's L'Argent and this cultural practice in Peru of doubting authenticity were the origins of October. [Continue reading]