Although born in Italy and a true citizen of the world, Australian-based filmmaker Patrick Fileti, a member of the creative collective, Thirteen & Co., has travelled to Tulepec, Mexico to make his short film, Inferno, telling the true story of a town famous for its pyrotechnics and the subculture that surrounds it.
According to the press release, Inferno is a ‘portrayal of the lives of artisans and their families in the lead up to the festival of San Juan de Dios, INFERNO honours the spirit, tradition and passion of Tultepec’s community in celebrating life, to the point of embracing death. Beginning the festival, a party sets the town aflame; roughly 300 giant wooden bulls loaded with fireworks are built for a single day of incendiary celebration. It is a ritual and a pageant that celebrates explosives for their life-giving energy in a town that lives and dies according to the laws of gunpowder and fate.’
“Going deeper into the flames, pyrotechnics honour the passion and spirit of people celebrating life while acknowledging the ever-present proximity of death,” says Fileti. “All this for the rapturous applause of a hundred thousand people screaming in shared catharsis. The biggest honour goes to the bull with the fiercest fireworks display. Dying to make this day possible is considered heroic and holy.”
Filmed on a shoestring budget over five days, Fileti engaged with the local community and made them feel like they were a crucial part of making the film. He also enlisted Mexican DOP Galo Olivares (Alfonso Cuaron’s collaborator on Roma – which has its own striking scene of meditation on fire) to tell the story through the eyes of the townspeople.
“Casting was crucial to the authenticity of the film,” Fileti admits. “Our hero is also a guy whose appearance appears forbidding, but which has little relation to the content of his character. Changing people’s minds of what they think people should be… without it being forced, just a natural message that is conveyed through the language of film.”