Director Daniel Vega on the making of Octubre

When we started to think about making Octubre and writing the first drafts, our interest was focused on talking about fake money. In Lima (Peru) we are used to obsessively checking the bills and coins all the time, no matter how small the transaction is. You’ll check a bill given by a bank the same way as one given by a taxi driver. It’s common to experience the sensation of feeling guilty that you are cheating somebody, or that somebody is trying to cheat you, without anything being verbalized. There’s an extended tendency of distrust. Distrust mixed with a strong emotional handicap is what our main character is about. He is a man who needs monetary transactions to relate to other people, and a man for whom a fake bill could cause a lot of trouble.

Octubre occurs in Lima, but if it weren’t for the background –the month of October during the Lord of the Miracles processions– the story could happen anywhere in the world. But we decided it should be in Lima, first because it’s our city and we know it, and second because we think what happens to Clemente –a lonely character, cold, constrained, greedy and incapable of showing affection– is a miracle. And a miracle which can confirm the hopes not only of the Lord of the Miracles’ devotees, but also of those believers in any Saint or Idea, who want to change their lives and think that by finding some companionship and affection, or by solving some family problems, their lives can be better. We didn’t want to portray a typical Lima family, nor the typical moneylender, nor the social or working conditions that affect our society. Our main interest has always been to explore the limits of the human condition, taking it to extremes, and trying to resolve it with an open ending to be interpreted by the audience depending on their mood or social condition, but in the end an ending full of light and hope.

Of course, making a film has big obstacles and the main one for us was getting the funds. From the day we said “let’s make a feature film,” it took us seven years until we had our first 35mm copy. So combining this long process full of rejections and ups and downs with our lives was very difficult. It took a huge dose of stubbornness. Receiving the notification of the Cannes’ Selection was a beautiful surprise but also a big relief. It may sound superficial but somehow you need a recognition from a Festival, if it’s a big Festival much better, to know that you are doing things right. And we got the biggest recognition. This made possible that film could be sold around the world and to visit many other countries through Festivals. In the end that’s why you make a film so as many people can watch it; and Cannes made that a reality.