Juan Pablo González: 5 Films That Have Shaped My Career
Juan Pablo González
Juan Pablo González

Juan Pablo González is a Mexican filmmaker who explores both fiction and nonfiction storytelling, mainly located in his hometown in the Highlands of Jalisco in Mexico, an area known for its tequila production. With his latest film, Dos Estaciones (Two Seasons), González is making his narrative feature film directorial debut.

The film is an intimate portrait of María García (Teresa Sánchez), a middle-aged tequila factory owner who hires a new manager, Rafaela (Rafaela Fuentes), to help with her struggling company. The two strong women develop intense ties with one another — even romantically.

"The character of María is based on this generation of people who are 50 or 60 years old, who live in small towns in Mexico where tequila is produced, and they've inherited the tequila businesses from their families," Gonzaléz says. "Some of them do well, but others are forced to sell their family business to corporations, who buy these tequila factories for a fraction of what they’re worth."

After winning the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting (for Sánchez's performance) at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Dos Estaciones will begin to screen in U.S. theaters this month, showing at the IFC Center in New York on Sept. 9 and at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles on Sept. 16, before a national rollout. 

González made several short films before going on to direct Caballerango (Horse Wrangler), his 2018 documentary about a small Mexican village and its residents following the death of a local horse wrangler. In addition to filmmaking, González is the co-director of the Film Directing program at the California Institute of the Arts. From his home in Lagos de Moreno, in Jalisco, Gonzaléz shares with A.frame five of the films that have shaped his career.

Taste of Cherry
Taste of Cherry
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Directed and written by: Abbas Kiarostami

This film has influenced me thematically, formally, and spiritually. It's a simple film, but it's also so complex. With apparently few means available, it speaks so much to life and cinema.

Canoa: A Shameful Memory
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Directed by: Felipe Cazals | Written by: Tomás Pérez Turrent 

I remember watching this film when I was a teenager. It made an impression on me because of its political relevance about the 1960s in Mexico and globally. It's also about this encounter between rural and urban Mexico. The director is someone from Mexico City, but that encounter is still there. It explores, formally, the intersection between documentary and fiction — it's based on a true story.

D'Est (From the East)
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Where to Watch: BAMFA

Directed and written by: Chantal Akerman

Chantal did everything in cinema. She made fiction, non-fiction, and installations. She was influenced by American neo avant-garde cinema. This film is a huge structuralist film. This film is austere in many ways, there’s no dialogue, she’s just observing people. But it's an ambitious film. It has complex tracking shots, its own take and understanding of this structuralist tradition. It feels like hers. It doesn't feel like she is copying this tradition at all. I think a lot about form, so this film has been really important to me.

Interview With the Earth (Entrevista con la tierra)
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Where to Watch: Vimeo

Directed and written by: Nicolás Pereda

It changed so much for me. It's an austere film, and the director took an approach to the interview in a fascinating way. He doesn’t really make documentary films. It's a scripted film, but it relies on interviews and testimony. Sometimes, it's devastating. You wonder if it's staged or real when you watch it. It made me think about the interview as its own kind of genre in cinema. He exposed that lie in a documentary film. Reality is not imprinted in a documentary film, it's actually filtered by the maker.

All Water Has A Perfect Memory
all water has a perfect memory
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Directed by: Natalia Almada

What made this film important to me is that it's an incredibly personal film in which a family dialogues about their shared trauma. There's also this idea of material means within a film. Natalia Almada sent a recorder to each of her family members to retell a traumatic event that happened when she was so young; she couldn't remember it. To my documentary work, memories and the way people remember the mutability of memory is so important. I was highly influenced by this film. 

By Nadja Sayej

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