Below the Radar Transcript

Episode 28: On Andean Horror: The monster always represents the fear we repress — with Maria Cecilia Saba

Speakers: Melissa Roach, Maria Cecilia Saba, Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, Rachel Wong

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Melissa Roach  0:01 
You’re listening to Below the Radar, a knowledge mobilization project recorded out of 312 Main. This podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. 

Maria Cecilia Saba  0:12 
Below the Radar brings forward ideas to encourage meaningful exchanges across communities. 

Jamie-Leigh Gonzales  0:21 
Each episode we interview guests on topics ranging from environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community building, and urban issues. This podcast is recorded on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

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Rachel Wong  0:43 
Hello, I’m Rachel Wong and thank you so much for joining us on Below the Radar. This week, I’m joined by Maria Cecilia Saba, who used to work with us at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Together, we talk about Peruvian-Andean horror films - something that Maria Cecilia knows quite a lot about. Maria Cecilia wrote her Master’s thesis at SFU on this very topic. Through her research she found an interesting link between the rise in independently produced horror films in rural parts of Peru and the internal conflict that occurred beginning in the 1980s. For many of the local audiences, these films were more than just forms of entertainment: there were also some elements of healing and catharsis. Maria Cecilia and I talk about the symbolism in these films, understanding film viewing as a live experience, and we dive into the fact that horror films are so much more than trying to scare audiences.

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Rachel Wong  1:47
Hello everyone, welcome to Below the Radar. My name is Rachel and I work as the Communications Coordinator at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. And it is my absolute pleasure to interview a familiar voice on this show. You probably from time to time have heard the voice of Maria Cecilia Saba. She also is the one who has been really hard at work recently doing our editing for the podcasts, and she’s always the one behind the scenes recording. And today we’re going to be talking about horror films. Hello Maria!

Maria Cecilia Saba  2:23 
Hello Rachel, thank you for having me.

Rachel Wong  2:25 
Thanks for being here! So I wanted to start by asking if you could share a little bit about your background and how it is that you came to study films, in particular horror films, but maybe we’ll start with your educational and professional background.

Maria Cecilia Saba  2:40
Sure. So I studied Communications at the University of Lima. While I was there, there was this professor, who is now a dear friend of mine, Emilio Bustamante, he had this ongoing research on regional films, which is basically films that are made outside of the capital city, Lima. While I was in my latest years of communications, he organized a lot of screenings and events and panel discussions with filmmakers from different parts of Peru as part of his research on regional films, and I just got fascinated with this universe of films that already existed that I had no idea about. I thought that all the films that were made in Peru were made in Lima, and then I was seeing films from Ayacucho, from Puno, from Huancavelica, from different parts, and they were really interesting films as well. And there were a lot of films, there were like 200 films being made since 1996 up to, I think I saw them in 2010, 2011? So yeah it was a whole new world for me to discover. So that kind of also got me interested in learning a little bit more about cultural policy and arts policy.

Maria Cecilia Saba  4:02
So I did a diploma program at Pontificia Universidad Catolica, which had a class on cultural policy. And that got me really into studying what was the means of production, what kind of aid they were getting from the government to make these films. And it was really interesting for me to know that they were making these films basically out of their pocket money, you know? They were getting very little help from the government because of a myriad of factors. So it was kind of like these micro-productions being self-financed, and I kept thinking “What could we do from the universities or the public sphere to help fund these films, or find means of alternative funding or production to really promote the cinema?” So I started deviating a little bit from my desire to be a filmmaker myself to my desire to empower other filmmakers and to study a little bit more about what Peruvian cinema was actually like. I also felt like, after I did the program, I felt like I wanted to take a break from Lima, a little bit? Just take some distance and travel a little bit. I saw that at SFU, well actually, I saw that Laura Marks was at SFU. I started learning a little bit more about her, about her approach to film, and I felt like she would be a great supervisor for me, which she was luckily. And that’s what brought me here to Vancouver.

Rachel Wong  5:37
There are so many different genres of films, and we were kind of brainstorming earlier, like there is comedy and romance and drama, action, psychothriller, indie films and what not, which sounds like it was indie or regional production was something that you were really fascinated with. And of all of the different genres, the one you did your extended essay, or the culminating piece for your MA was on horror. And full disclaimer, I’m no expert in horror. I personally don’t watch horror films at all and in fact, even reading your - I was telling you earlier - even your reading your MA thesis, it got me feeling a certain kind of way too, and I was wondering what got you interested in this particular genre?

Maria Cecilia Saba  6:24
It’s funny really because I’ve never been a horror fan!

Rachel Wong  6:29
You and me both!

Maria Cecilia Saba  6:33
Yeah, I’ve only recently started watching classic horror films. I started watching them while I was researching these horror films from the Andes, right? So I had a lot to catch up on. But basically I was always very scared of the films, I am very sensitive. So for me, watching gory films was not necessarily a good time because I would feel it so much in my own body, you know? I would feel the repulsion, I would feel the disgust, I would feel the knot in your stomach and so that was never really my cup of tea until, while I was talking to this professor, Emilio, he mentioned something that was very curious to me. And that was that from all the production of films that was made in Peru, in all of the regions, one of the regions with the most production was Ayacucho, and Ayacucho, from all of that production, most of that production was horror films. And the reason why that was so striking to me was because Ayacucho was the epicentre of this 20 year civil war in Peru that started in the early 80s and was officially culminated - if you can ever culminate a war - in the 2000s, more or less. So I thought that there was something there. Why would a province that has been through so much pain and trauma and violence and suffering, why would those filmmakers be doing horror films? For me that was something that was really worth diving into. So I did.

Maria Cecilia Saba  8:16
I was thinking a lot about what the best lens would be to study these kinds of films because it didn’t feel like traditional Western theories or traditional structural film analysis might really do the films justice or be the best lens to look at the films, because a lot of these filmmakers were themselves self taught. I don’t know, it felt like there was more to these horror films produced in Ayacucho to just being entertainment. It kind of felt like they were testimonies. So that’s what got me into horror.

Rachel Wong  9:00 
Yeah, and what I find so fascinating about too is, like you said, instead of it being purely for entertainment’s sake or for the sake of maybe it’s just a genre that’s very popular regardless of the market, there’s actually something deeper that makes it a little more than just purely something that you’ll watch passively or just consume, almost.

Maria Cecilia Saba  9:23 
And that’s the thing, you know? It’s interesting that you mention that, passively. Because I really don’t think that we consume films passively, I feel like the film spectator, if they are engaged with the story, if they are engaged with what they’re watching, it’s anything but passive. There’s a lot going on inside, in your body, while you’re watching a film. You react unconsciously, not deliberately. You react to whatever stimuli is being projected on the screen and whatever stimuli you’re hearing from the speakers. There’s something about horror, specifically, that I feel is very linked to social trauma and historic trauma. There’s been a lot of essays and studies conducted on this, it’s not coincidental that when a country has been through a war or something that has shaken society, a lot of horror films have been produced with monsters that kind of represent those fears.

Maria Cecilia Saba  10:22
We were talking before about the zombie films, for example, and how if you see when the zombie films start appearing on American screens, it kind of coincides a little bit with the time when the soldiers and the veterans were coming back from war, whether it was the Second World War or the Vietnam War. There’s even one film - for me it was very illustrative of this - which was "The Hills Have Eyes", I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this film. There’s two versions, right. So one is in the 70s, I think, that’s kind of like, shot in a more cinema verite kind of way. And the story of “The Hills Have Eyes” is about this family of mutants that live in some kind of desert outside, like if you took a detour from the highway, you arrive into this kind of forgotten village with mutants inhabiting the village. So the film was kind of launched after there was this huge reveal of the nuclear bomb testing that had been conducted in the deserts of the US. There was fear that maybe they had not evacuated properly the area, and these were actual social fears! You would see people talking about this in the news and things like that.

Maria Cecilia Saba  11:44
So of course a horror film appears when you have the consequences of what could have happened if they had not evacuated correctly the area, right? And you would find that throughout many countries and many cultures: The monster always represents the repressed and what we fear. And you always have what is normal and then the monster, whatever is repressed, breaks through and alters normality. It takes you to a state where everything is possible, where normal no longer is. So it’s also a little cathartic, it also allows you to experience that catastrophic reality, that manifestation of what is the realization of your worst fear, but from a safe distance as well.

Rachel Wong  12:31
Like without having to actually endure it, like you’re only enduring it through a screen.

Maria Cecilia Saba  12:37
But what is interesting about these films in Ayacucho is that everyone involved in the films actually endured the films, right? So we’re talking about a different kind of process here. It’s not a projection of what could happen or a projection of what is maybe about to happen in the short run, but it’s actually a bit of a testimony, of remembrance, a reworking of embodied memories, of the embodied fear, and I think that that is something that you can really see in the choice of frames. How you frame a shot, how long you hold that shot, as well. You know, what constitutes horror? It’s not necessarily a horrific monster built on CGI or on a lot of VFX or something that is very horrific to the view, or frightening to the view, but I think that horror, in many of these films, also lies in the narrative and in imagining being there in the moment.

Rachel Wong  13:40 
What that makes me think of is when you hold a shot for so long, you have that experience of suspense and worry and anxiety. Looking at the title of your paper - which I have, very handily right here - and it’s called “Altered Realities: Visceral Journeys into Post-War Peruvian-Andean Horror Films”. So I guess if you don’t mind maybe breaking down - we’ve talked a little bit about this already - but to break down a visceral journey, what do you mean by that?

Maria Cecilia Saba  14:09 
I don’t think that the viewer is a passive viewer, so I feel that films and cinema takes you on a journey. It’s taking you on the universe of the film, of the story. You’re being touched as well, kind of sensorially, by whatever is in this universe of the film. For example, in one of the films, the universe is a very remote village that is very dark at night. So your journey in this film in particular is not knowing what is outside of the frame. Your journey is, you’re traveling along with the characters in this very deserted, very claustrophobic environment. And it’s visceral because I feel like you feel it in your gut. The stimuli there are, for me at least, are so sensorial, and I feel that your body responds so intensely to what you’re seeing on screen, to the faces, to the sounds, to the crying, to the atmosphere that is created that you’re really having this sort of visceral journey. You’re not the same person at the end of the film that you are at the start of the film.

Rachel Wong  15:27 
And I’m interested to know because you were mentioning earlier how horror films and, correct me if I’m wrong, you had mentioned that they are not your cup of tea. So in terms of having this visceral reaction where you’re not just watching to scare yourself but you’re doing research, and I think that it’s a very smart way to go about this kind of research and like you said, maybe the traditional theories of how you would do content analysis for example that might not cut it, and it might not do these films justice. So it’s a different way of researching and it’s a different way of experiencing these films from an academic standpoint but also really engaging all of your senses and really paying attention to the characters and the storyline, the atmosphere. And I’m curious to know how that you impacted you as a person afterwards. Having to watch the two films that you mention in this paper, you probably did a whole group of viewings of other views. So all of that must impact you in a certain way, and I’m just wondering how you feel that watching these, doing this research, has impacted you.

Maria Cecilia Saba  16:35 
It made me aware of my body, which is something I don’t think that we all do that enough. Like when we watch TV or films or anything, I don’t think we’re always aware of how our body is being triggered by what’s on screen and what you’re hearing. I mean it’s happening, but we don’t always listen to it. So I realize that, after watching the films, now every time I watch the film I can feel that. So it’s made me more sensitive to the aesthetics of the film, for example. For any film, it doesn’t have to be horror - horror, of course, is the one that’s easier to get excited or triggered with because it’s an assault on your senses. The whole theme of horror is to kind of shake you on with a story and give you this discharge of adrenaline. And you can feel that with any film, because you can feel that when you have a close up image of someone experiencing a strong emotion. I don’t know if you ever noticed if you’re watching a close up shot of someone’s face as they are breaking down into tears and they’re in a lot of pain or angst or whatever, then you start feeling like your eyebrows are lifting in the middle. Maybe you’re mouth is twitching a little bit, and that’s all very natural responses - we’re wired that way! We’re wired to mimic each other’s features, it’s part of our being in the world. So you can feel it that way.

Maria Cecilia Saba  18:14 
Actually, one of my favourite scenes of an Andean horror films, it’s of the movie Jarjacha, one of the ones I analyzed in the essay, it’s this very long sequence with two of the characters who are, again, lost in the mountains in the middle of the night with no light. And when I say no light, I mean no light, because they didn’t even have any light to shoot! They’re using all of the resources they have in a very creative way. So they’re lighting the faces with actual fire lamps. What they had at the moment is what you get on screen, so you get a little bit of the faces lit up, and maybe you get a little bit of light simulating moonlight, but that’s about it. So it’s a very oppressive atmosphere. So this sequence has these two characters, one of them is looking for the monster - he wants to confront the monster. And the other character, the wife, is looking for the husband. So you can see that they are both in panic, they’re both super scared, there’s a lot of really close up shots of their faces as they look lost into the out of frame. So you go between both characters, between both shots, and the shots start kind of merging one into the other a little bit. Dissolving one into the other. You can see on the face of the wife, the desperation of the wife as she’s calling out her husband’s name in the middle of nowhere, and you can see here - I’m starting to feel it right now, in my body, as I’m telling you. You can see here with her face, she’s about to burst into tears because she’s so afraid. It’s those kinds of shots that evoke that kind of visceral reactions because it’s not only in your belly - you don’t only feel it in the knot like something is going to happen here, but you also feel it  throughout.

Rachel Wong  20:13 
I guess speaking of the film that you were referencing, how did you come to choose the two films that you analyzed for this piece? And you’ll notice that I’m being very vague, I don’t want to botch the name or the pronunciation for our audience! But how did you come to choose these particular films over maybe other ones?

Maria Cecilia Saba  20:34 
Again, I was in contact with Emilio back and forth while I was here doing my Master’s degree, right? And I told him that I was really interested in horror films and I asked him what were the ones that he would recommend, there were so many! And specifically I am most interested in those in Ayacucho but I’m open to other provinces as well. He started recommending some of the films, and some of the films I was able to watch online, someone had already downloaded it and posted it to YouTube, and others he very generously copied for me and sent me a link so that I could watch them here, and others he just, when I went to Lima, he gave me some copies. So I must have watched maybe 12 films, and that’s not a lot. It’s a very selected sample. And when I was talking to Laura [Marks] as well about my research, she gave me the idea of doing a showing of the films, so she encouraged me to plan this Andean horror film fest, which I did as part of my work in the Masters.

Maria Cecilia Saba  21:52 
So then the thing became not only what films I was going to study, research on paper, but if I have the opportunity of selecting a few films to show to a non-Peruvian audience and show them what is Andean horror, what films would I choose? So I started narrowing down the films that I liked, the ones that spoke to me the most, or the ones that I thought had the most depth in a way, so I ended up settling between 3 or 4 films that I liked the most. And what’s common to all of the films was that not only were they horror films, but they were also adaptations of oral myths. So it wasn’t - I know that we’ve talked about how these films resonate with internal armed conflict and the violence and the civil war and all that - they don’t talk about it explicitly, you know? So it’s not a horror film about war, they are not horror films about what was going on in Ayacucho at the time. They are adaptations of horror legends, of monsters, and Andean monsters.

Maria Cecilia Saba  23:12 
So you have the Jarjacha, which is a were-llama-demon, so it’s a half man, half llama that gets turned into this being as a punishment for being incestuous. And these creatures, they inhabit a community, and their curse is that they look like people during the day, but their curse is to transform into a were-llama, and they go around attacking villagers at night and eating their brains and what not. So there’s a lot of syncretism into what the Jarjacha is because it kind of feels like it’s very unique and particular to Andean cosmology, but it has traits that you could associate with a werewolf or that you could associate with a vampire or whatever. The interesting thing about the jarjacha as well is that you cannot stop the jarjacha alone, you can only stop the jarjacha as a community. So it has to be punished by the community at sunrise, so there’s a lot of protocols for how you handle the jarjacha, and it’s very important that it’s a creature that is born inside of the community. So keep that in mind, because I will explain why it’s important. 

Maria Cecilia Saba  24:33 
Then you have the pishtaco. That’s another creature and it’s another one of the monsters of the films. And the pishtaco is a whole kind of evil, right? The pishtaco is a foreign assassin. He’s usually white or has fairer skin, and what the pishtaco does is that it will kill peasants, like Andean people, to withdraw their fat, like extract their body fat, and sell it. So what’s interesting about the pishtaco is that it is a pre-Colombian legend. In pre-Colombian times, like before the conquest, the pishtacos were supposed to be the assassins, the elite assassins of the Inca. With the conquest, the pishtacos were said to be sent by the priests in the Catholic Church and they said that they would use the human fat to grease the bells at the churches so that the sound would travel further. And with Industrialization, they said that the pishtaco was actually working with the capitalist powers of North America and Europe and that they were using the fat to sell it to industrialized countries to oil their machines to increase production. And now they say that they use the fat to create cosmetics.

Maria Cecilia Saba  26:09 
So it always changes - like what the pishtaco uses the fat for always changes, or who he sells it to - but it always a monster that represents extraction of natural resources. And it’s always foreign, so that’s always interesting as well. And then you have other creatures as well. You have the uma, it’s a witch that has a head that detaches from her body at night, and flies above the villages. And then you have the careceri, which is an evil shaman that will do pacts and what not, and there’s a whole universe of Andean creatures.

Maria Cecilia Saba  26:48 
But the one that I researched, for example, were the pishtaco and the jarjacha, and the reason why I focused on these two is because their stories kind of felt like they represented a little bit of how the internal armed conflict was felt in Ayacucho. So this conflict there were three parties at war, really. You had the terrorist group, that was the Luminoso, Shining Path. You had the Peruvian army, on the other side. And then you had the bronderos, that were like civilians that gathered together in these self-defense committees. Taking in mind these three players and taking in mind how it was felt in Ayacucho, it was differently felt in the northern part of Ayacucho and in the southern part of Ayacucho. So in the south, Shining Path was able to enter into the community in a more silent way. They integrated the community, and they ended up being very, very violent with the Andean population, like 70-something percent of the people who died during the conflict were peasants, over 50 had quechua or another Indigenous language as their first language. So it was very, very much based. Their activity was based in remote Andean communities. So in the south, they were integrated in the south and it was only later when they started revealing themselves as the terrorists, as Shining Path.

Maria Cecilia Saba  28:15 
The way that Ayacuchanos will speak, or would speak, about senderistas at the time was sometimes by referring to them as jarjachas, you see? Because they were bred in the community, they were a part of the community, but they were actually killing each other. And this kind of, I think, also created a little bit of a safer distance to kind of speak of what was currently happening in the code of a legend, in the code of a popular cultural reference. And then the opposite happened in the north. Like in the north, the senderistas arrived much later, and they were more violent. So the Ayacuchanos from the northern communities, they did not let the senderistas in as easily as they did in the south. So they were attacked kind of like as an enemy way earlier, and when the military arrived, they were so vicious, so violent as well in the way that they were confronting the senderistas, that northern populations kind of felt like they were trapped between the two! They were trapped between the senderistas who wanted to coerce them into joining their army, and the military who thought that everyone was a senderista  because they couldn’t tell who was. So that’s how they created these self-defense committees. So in the north, it’s interesting because then the assassin, the threat, is a foreign person. It’s not someone who was inbred in the community, and they ended up referring to pishtacos - they ended up referring to the army or the senderistas, anyone who looked a little different from the ones in the community, they were referred to as pishtacos.

Maria Cecilia Saba  30:01 
So in the films for example, you see the way they have treated the jarjacha and the pishtaco and the way their stories have been treated, you can feel that they are recreating a little bit of the tension that was felt at the time of the conflict through an adaptation of a horror legend in the code of a horror film. So it’s very layered. It’s not just a horror film for entertainment, it’s actually like a testimony. I feel like there’s a lot of embodied memory involved there, you know. The actors of the films, they’re not professional actors. They’re natural actors. They haven’t studied a method, they are acting from memory, they are acting from experience. They’re bringing back a lot of what they have lived through and expressing it on camera. And I remember going to Ayacucho after I did the paper, and I went to Ayacucho and I started kind of - and I met with a lot of the filmmakers here. I asked them “were you here when the violence started in Ayacucho? Did you live through it? How did it influence your film?” All of them said that they had been through the violence, like whatever was in their films is nowhere near the horror experienced or witnessed, so they said for them it’s kind of inevitable for them. That’s what they said. They don’t need to read a book, they don’t need to kind of learn what happened, because they have lived what happened. And it’s not like they’re doing the films thinking this is what I need to do in order to express what happened actually during the conflict. It’s the way they treat horror narratives, it’s already a bit infused with the experience, the memory of the experience of what happened.

Maria Cecilia Saba  31:54 
And there’s filmmakers like Palito Ortego Matute, he’s the director of Jarjacha, he passed away last year. But he dedicated his whole film career to talking about the conflict. The guy has three films that are kind of in the melodrama genre that speak of the aftermath of the conflict, the social aftermath. Then he has three films that speak of the jarjacha, that are about the jarjacha and they are horror films, and then he has three other films that came out later that in the drama, social-realism drama that speak about the actual violence. And he does that starting from his own experience because he received death threats from Sendero, he was also tortured by the military, you know? He’s been through it all, and he felt like he was morally obliged to tell what happened because it’s not going to be the same, the testimony of someone from Ayacucho and has lived through it, as the testimony or whatever of someone from Lima who’s imagining what happened because they’ve read it in a book or a study or whatever. There’s this need, still, in Ayacucho or other parts that have been hit or suffering with some trauma or crisis to release this story, to kind of tell the story and put it on screen. And there’s also a huge attendance for these films in Ayacucho, and you would think that maybe, if you’ve been through all of that, why would you go see the film? But it’s also that release.

Maria Cecilia Saba  33:30 
It’s not dealing with the trauma directly, not reliving it, but seeing it playing out in front of you at a safer distance and in the code of a fiction film. So I think there’s a lot of healing that is being done through these films - not only the horror films, I feel that the horror films are kind of like, the more shocking. The horror films will be the most triggering, for sure, also because they are talking about mythological monsters and creatures that don’t exist and all of that. Maybe those can be assimilated as fictions, because they are fictions, a little safer?

Rachel Wong  34:18
It definitely is. And there’s so much to take in, and I think one thing I got from that and I think I’m starting to understand is that its an opportunity, like you said, to go on this visceral journey to become more aware of yourself and to have that release and process your trauma in a different way/ one thing I’m curious about too was, you know, maybe for North American audiences who didn’t go through such a thing, so you were mentioning earlier you did hold a screening. I’m curious to know what the reception of Canadian audiences, people who were at that screening, what their response was to these films.

Maria Cecilia Saba  34:58 
Put yourself in my place, I’m screening Peruvian-Andean horror films, that’s super niche! So I thought that I would only get very niche audiences, maybe someone who was really into horror films or maybe someone who was Peruvian or Latin American. But when Canadian audiences started showing up - and no lie, I actually invited a lot of them from the school, from SFU! But the fact is that they showed up, right? And because I knew some of them, I had seen them around, maybe they were not in my cohort but maybe we met before, and I was like “Can I interview you afterward, to find out a little more about how that impacted you? The feedback that I got was one, it was a thriller. It felt like a thriller. Some people said that the Jarjacha, was one of the best horror films, like indie horror films that they had seen. Other feedback that I got was, and I really liked this one, was someone said, “I’ve never heard someone scream like that in my life.” And they said that there was something very real about the scream and the agony that was being expressed by the actor. I always did a Q&A after every screening because of course it’s a lot to ask from audiences who had never heard of it. And to be fair, a lot of people in Lima had not heard of Andean horror films until recently.  It's something very obscure, very cult.

Maria Cecilia Saba  36:34 
So I would introduce them a little bit, explain a little bit of the production, the production value, that this is not going to be a Hollywood film so don’t expect huge visual effects and what not. And there’s going to be glitches, sure, because these were films that were made in year 2003, you know, with handycams sometimes, with very,’s not high end cameras. These are video cameras that you could have at home with very small crews. So just setting the expectations where they should be. It’s a great film but it’s not Hollywood. And I would let them know a little bit of the context, but not too much - I didn’t want to give out too much before they saw the film because I wanted to see if they would get scared just with the film alone or what their reaction be just with the film alone. And afterward, I would try to bring the director on Skype - I succeeded with one of the directors - but otherwise, I had already interviewed them so mag times that I - not that I could speak for them, but I kind of like, led a bit of the discussion and contextualized a little more, talking a little bit about the sociopolitical context - everything that we talked about just now! And apparently that helped after they had experienced the film, tie the knots a little more. They would get a little more of the context.

Maria Cecilia Saba  38:13 
And memory is a funny thing, memory is not static, right? So whenever you  remember something, you’re remembering but actually it’s also kind of like re-remembering, re-living, and re-adjusting that memory to what you know in the present. Some of them I could see that they were like “Oh, I get why this happened, oh I see it.” So for some of them, when I talk to them afterwards, knowing the context afterward also kind of makes it more scary in retrospect. I think it was a good reception of the films, I think it’s not - definitely it’s not for everyone. You need to know what you’re going into. Like with a lot of films, you’re not gonna go see a Jodorowsky film at the Cineplex and expect it to be filled with the same audiences that’s gonna go see Avengers, right? Every film has its audience. But yeah, I feel like the themes that are explored in these films are so humane and are so integrated to our human experience - loss or fear or anxiety or horror, terror - they are very basic human emotions, so I feel like it’s relatable, independent of where you’re coming from. If you have just a little bit of context, you can make more of it, but you will still understand the message and I think you’ll still be moved by it.

Rachel Wong  39:40
Wow, oh my gosh. So it helps me to look at films, and even horror films - like I said something that I’m not really too fond of - but it makes me appreciate them a little more, so I thank you for that. And I think just to close, I’m curious to know, what, of all the ones you may have seen, what is your favourite horror film?

Maria Cecilia Saba  40:03
It’s the Jarjacha. (laughs)

Rachel Wong  40:05 
You heard it here first!

Maria Cecilia Saba  40:08 
Yeah, for me that’s my favourite, which is super unfair to all the other films because they’re all so good. But for me, the thing that really stuck with me from that film was the atmosphere: the oppressive darkness of the Andean night. Just that already feels kind of scary because you don’t know what’s out there, but also the framing of the faces and the length of the shots, just the entrainment. Of feeling like you’re there with them, you cannot look elsewhere like you’re focused on how they are experiencing that moment. So for me that treatment, that’s why it’s my favourite.

Rachel Wong  40:55 
Well thank you so much Maria!

Maria Cecilia Saba  40:56
Thank you for talking with me.

[theme music]

Rachel Wong  41:04 
Thanks again to Maria Cecilia Saba for joining us on this week’s episode of Below the Radar. And as well, many thanks to the great people who help to put this podcast together, including myself, Rachel Wong, Paige Smith, and Fiorella Pinillos. Davis Steele is the composer of our theme music, and thanks to you for listening. We’ll catch you next time on Below the Radar.

[theme music fades]

Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
October 28, 2019

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