Leaping head first into the flames, //Thirteen & Co writer and director Patrick Fileti’s INFERNO delves into the heartland of Tulepec, Mexico to tell the true story of a town famous for its pyrotechnics and the unique sub culture that surrounds it.
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.
Fileti explains: “Going deeper into the flames, pyrotechnics honour the passion and spirit of people celebrating life while acknowledging the ever-present proximity of death. 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 with the Alexa Mini and Lomo Anamorphic lenses across a five-day shoot, Fileti worked with a tight knit Mexican film crew on the ground. It was important for the director to deeply engage the local community and for them to feel genuinely connected to the film. He also enlisted award-winning DOP, Galo Olivares, behind this year’s Oscar-nominated Netflix film, Roma, which just won a BAFTA for best cinematography. The true story of the town is told through the eyes of the townspeople themselves, with additional casting of the film’s lead protagonists found in Mexico City.
Drawn to social stories that confront an audiences pre-conceived notions of people and communities, Fileti’s films regularly challenge perceptions; opening up a dialogue about diverse traditions and subcultures that often exist in our own backyard. Therefore casting was imperative to the film’s success.
“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.”
Fileti also spent six months developing the film’s soundtrack alongside Los Angeles composer Daniel McCormick.
INFERNO is set to make its debut at select film festivals. Watch the enticing new trailer below…