Tell us something about your encounter with Lelio. What would you take back from those sometimes intense conversations?
Leleo’s intensity is real. She is very authentic, thoughtful and spiritual, but at the same she is very emotional and expresses her feelings without filters. My intention during the filming was to let Leleo’s sensuality and spontaneity come out of her, and it was a beautiful process. During the creation of AMEN we have lived that same movie in parallel in our lives, with the same intense questioning of the perception of life, with a lot of love and rebellion. What I take back at the end is the need of feeling peace in my heart. No matter what am I defending or wanting to communicate, the most important thing I learned is to keep my center while everything seems to move around me. That was the greatest gift.
What do you have to say about the story of Alfonso Munoz and why do you think it must be told?
Alfonso is an extremely sweet person who feels betrayed by life and he is in a constant struggle between rebelling against everything and still being trapped by the appearance. His monk’s outfit is still very important to him, without his outfit he doesn’t feel he has the authority to talk about spiritual matters. I thought it was very important to tell this story because I think there are many people like him who perceive reality in a different way, who can see the manipulation to which human beings are always exposed, and dares to communicate it, although he usually does it while being very drunk. But unfortunately, he has not managed to rise above the situation emotionally. He is upset and frustrated and the most interesting thing that this character makes us question is: How can someone really vibrate higher and feel happiness despite not being blindfolded and being able to see all the atrocities that human kind is going through?
How would you define spiritual comedy?
I don’t think it is necessary to define it. It´s just that using humor while talking about heavy and controversial themes such as those related to COVID, or spiritual beliefs makes it much easier and light. I think that if we have the ability to laugh about our perception of reality in general terms and don’t take it personal or too serious, we are in a much better position to enjoy life, and at the end… that´s all it matters, right?
Tell us something about blending levity with seriousness in the movie.
I personally think life is just big game. Nothing is so important, not even life it self. I am in love with death. I look forward to that moment the same way a woman in love looks forward to the day she will finally make love to her partner. We should not take life too serious, it´s all changing all the time and I think that I came to this life to grow spiritually, and for me that growth has to do with being more and more subtle each time. More lighter. So we can just laught about it all. It is beautiful to feel free to question big things in life but don’t feel the pressure to sustain your theories over time. My convictions move all the time, what I thought was true one day is not the next week. So, it is better not to wear ourselves out defending a point of view so much and better use that energy to enjoy life and laugh.
Tell us if it was difficult to generate engaging enquiries around casual trivialities.
To be honest, the script writing of the project was as light as the answer I just gave before. The themes I wanted to talk about were very clear from the beginning and we even had a fun and unexpected intervention. While I was writing the script a psychic wrote me to tell me that her spiritual guides wanted me to get information and that I should not be charged for the session. I was very impressed and had an appointment with her and I got a lot of information that is within the script, for example she said that the Catholic religion has disconnected us from our body with the concept of the sin of the flesh, but in reality, masturbation is a sacred way to connect with the spirituality. Many of the things that seer told me were similar to what I was writing, so I took them as confirmation and others as inspiration and the script came out very smoothly and easily. Always having humor as my main guide.
What were your learnings from the time spent with the two of them?
Love, joy and commitment. The three of us were very engaged with the project, we let the project transform us. It was an experiment without many rules and many magical coincidences and unexpected things happened while filming. During the scene in front of the church, for example, a street vendor who was a devoted catholic appeared unexpectedly encouraging Alfonso to enter into that trance that was very real.
What I take at the end is the beauty of improvisation and letting things happen and both of them, Leleo and Alfonso, were very good at that.
Are there filmmakers or writers who inspire you? People who motivate you and make your perception of art more beautiful.
There are so many people that inspire me… the list would be infinite, but talking about cinema, I am very inspired by David Lynch and his creative process that anchors itself in a deep spiritual connection, as well as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work.
What do you have to say about certain tales of aberrations generated from certain otherwise ‘sacrosanct’ places?
If I understand well the question… I think the answer is discernment.
There is so much information everywhere, you can find all kind of theories and spiritual manipulation on the web, and it is absolutely overwhelming. So where I am right now is in a place where I don’t like theories too much, I just take certain information that helps me and I disregard the rest. I make my own combinations and undo them when they don’t work anymore. In fact, they disintegrate faster and faster each time. I have learned to filter a lot what I receive from the outside, and the most important filter I have is my own body: how I feel. If something takes away my peace and harmony and it feels dense in my belly, it is probably a manipulation. The body is a much more precise indicator than the mind, and unlike the mind, it doesn’t get confused by theories. So, I have learned to discern in relation to what my body feels.
Why must we question certain dictums imposed on mankind? Do you run the risk of turning into the devil if we question the oppresors and use reason against them?
The risk of being ridiculed is always there. It is a historic tool that has been used to silence anyone that questions the official version of things. And of course, it is well known that the authorities have killed and threatened many scientists, artists, healers, academics and so on for centuries for questioning the dictums imposed on mankind. The fear of speaking is impregnated in our blood. That is why I prefer to use humor and not reason against the oppressors. I just want to question things, to open ourselves up to other possibilities, but I don’t have the answers.
Tell us something about the ‘Banality of evil’ generally spotted in a vengeful and violent world.
We have been raised not to question things too much. There are bad consequences for those who question. We are better off just following orders and being zombies, immersed in thoughtlessness. That is how the banality of evil appears: with a disengagement from the reality of our evil acts, and lacking the ability to feel that we are doing wrong. And that is precisely why it is so important to expand our consciousness, to be aware of everything that surround us, and come out of the numbness of the “civilized world”. It is urgent to recover our wildest sense of “smell”, to perceive how are we using our life. What are we putting our energy into? We need to wake up from this extremely long unconscious dream and be brave enough to think for ourselves. To take the time to observe and take the responsibility of the seeds are we planting with our actions.
Tell us how satisfied were you with the technical side of things? Were you impressed by the way the narrative was told?
This project was a very low-budget adventure. I didn’t have high expectations in the technical side. I basically had to produce, write, direct, film, edit, and even act in the film! But that also gave me total freedom to move things around as I intuitively felt them right. I took this project as an experiment from the very beginning to the end. What impressed me and feels very satisfying and magical is that many festivals are liking the project, giving very nice feedback, it is winning awards, and I am very grateful to see how the project is making its own way.
Tell us about your thoughts behind the conceptualisation of the movie. What about certain abstract tropes employed in the movie?
I have played with different spiritual symbolism in the movie like having the monk’s robe belt simulating the movement of a snake, and having that snake undress the monk, or using a tarot card as a symbol, or having the light to do lives onn Instagram as Alfonso’s halo of holiness… but to be honest, some of those tropes came from pure coincidence. There is a scene in the kitchen where Leleo is cooking and there is an image of the virgin Mary above her. I didn’t think of this before hand, but while we were filming, we realized that Leleo was dressed exactly with the same colors as the virgin. That for us, was just a magical coincidence.
What were your reflections on Peru? How do you see that place? What do you have to say about the stories that Peru must say?
Peru has an enormous ancestral knowledge that has been strategically hidden so that it wouldn’t be destroyed during the European invasion. All that spiritual sacred information is starting to open up to the world now, because we are now entering a new phase as humanity where this awakening is finally happening and this information is of great value. I have been very lucky to have been close and learned from different Amazonian shamans and Andean spiritual people who have kept their knowledge and rituals alive for many centuries, and I feel very honored to be Peruvian and to have access to this information. However, the society in the cities is quite different. People in Lima, the capital, are very conservative, close minded and judgmental, and that is why I am still hesitating whether I should show this movie AMEN in Lima or not! ☺
What position do you think religion can assume in today’s world generally?
Religion can have a very important position in this transformation, but it has to be a different kind of religion. It can’t be one that conditions, limits our perception of reality and divides us, but one that helps people to open up to the spiritual connection within each person. It should not be about power, manipulation and having more followers. There are infinite ways to help people re-link / re-connect / re-ligate (religion) to the divinity within us. Religion should be about respecting diversity and helping each other in this journey of evolution, with love.
What would you like to say about the importance of a spiritual journey, of knowledge and reason in our lives?
In my own perception of things, life itself is a spiritual journey where we start becoming more leger, more subtle and more intuitive. So, for me, that spiritual journey is all that matters, it is the reason why we are experiencing this existence. Nevertheless, I think the spiritual journey is not something mystical to theorize about, it is something practical that has to be expressed in the daily life. We can grow spiritually while working in any field, while harvesting, cleaning, cooking, speaking, relating to other people… etc. Spirituality is not only about feeling the cosmic love in your heart, it is about living that love in your daily routine. All that knowledge and awakening has to be expressed in the most mundane situations through your ability to love.
What do you have to say about the sometimes fatal knowledge of Mankind, existing around difference, and thriving around several strangleholds?
What I have to say is that we need to observe nature a little longer. Every time I sit in the jungle, in the forest, or I dive in the sea… what I see is diversity. The uncountable species of plants, flowers, insects, fungus, animals…. Nature shows very clearly that it is through diversity that the right balance and harmony appears. Nature regulates itself from any excess through diversity. So, the sooner we learn to respect human diversity and understand the importance of every human being in its uniqueness, and every point of view to find the right balance in life, the better. I made a documentary about the spiritual importance of human diversity, you can watch it for free in YouTube, it is called: THAT WHICH HOLDS.