Omar Rodríguez López's "Los Chidos" shocks SXSW

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On March 12, The Mars Volta's Omar Rodríguez López premiered Los Chidos, his second feature as a film director. It is being marketed as a comedy, but he calls it "a fable." Don't think Aesop, though: Rodríguez López's fables include parents abusing their sons and daughters, a woman taking shit from her man and eating someone's cock she picks up from the floor, a transvestite literally eating human shit, and a baby's head cut off with a meat saw.

The movie's soundtrack was a mess: too loud, badly mixed and at times the Spanish narration was unintelligible ("I'll remix as soon as I have a chance," he said). The sexual scenes are deliberately more exploitative than erotic, the humor more silly than funny, and the filming technique borrows from Almodóvar, Fassbinder, Jodorowsky, and Fellini, with none of those masters' wit. Yet, you're sitting there, fighting the urge to puke, unable to leave the seat and wondering where all this mess is going. To his credit, Rodríguez López manages to also display his own voice and the film is a daring piece of unconventional filmmaking impossible to ignore.

After the movie, I confessed my disappointment to Rodríguez López and suggested we do a little video at the most appropriate location: the men's bathroom. He was game and took my shit like a man and in Spanish. Just like his characters.

What were you smoking when you did this movie?

I was smoking my mother’s thoughts.

Really? Speaking of which, I noticed you choked when you mentioned her during the Q&A after the movie. She liked the movie, so she must be an amazingly open-minded woman.

My mother is a very special woman with an unbelievable sense of God. She's the most important thing in my life. I choked because she’s getting old and one day I will no longer have her to give me advice.

You seemed pleasantly surprised that so many people stayed at the theatre after the screening. You’re well aware that your movie is not for everyone.

Of course. During festivals, it’s very common that directors say, ‘We’ll dominate this festival.’ I don’t come to dominate anything. I come to participate in a dialogue. I just have a very particular way of speaking.

Your movie subtly explores internal racism among Latinos, yet you rightly decided to mainly focus on misogyny.

There were a lot of themes I wanted to explore, but had to choose a few instead of ending up with a four-hour movie. I chose abuse against women because it always amazed me that [in Latin America] we adore the Virgin Mary, but all the other women are treated like second-class citizens.

I find it very symbolic that you chose Molotov’s “Frijolero” to start and end the movie with. Whether you love it or hate it, Los Chidos is a Molotov cocktail in the balls.

Yes. It’s possible that a lot of people won’t like Los Chidos, but it causes an immediate reaction that will start a discussion about this subject. And that’s the important thing about the movie.

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