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Interview with Guillermo Arriaga

Interview by Chris Olson

Your work on big films like Babel and 21 Grams has been recognised in many big award shows. Your work on non-linear storylines is particularly fascinating. How would you describe your approach to this and audiences reactions to it? I was first a novelist. Writing novels I learned that each story has its own way to be told. It is the great lesson from masters like Faulkner, Rulfo, Vargas Llosa. So I tried to bring that approach to screenwriting. And also, we never tell stories linearly in real life. Never. We use extremely sophisticated narrative devices and structures. So why should cinema have to be condemned to only one way of storytelling? Yes, the three acts structure is great and the audience are subconsciously aware of it, but also audiences want to be challenged. What would you say is the hardest part of making films in 2016? Making people in this business understand that there is an audience for every story. That the audience is not limited to 15 year old kids that only want superhero films. Do you have any advice for filmmakers and screenwriters? Yes: rigor, rigor, rigor. What, apart from your own, are you favourite films from a screenwriting perspective? The Godfather I and II are for me the greatest films ever and much of it has to do with the brilliant screenwriting. What are you working on next? After five years of writing and rewriting, I finished a novel. I'm very happy with it. It will come out in Spanish next month. I put everything I had into it. What would you say if you were a dolphin? I would do anything to live on land. So I will try to figure out how to do it.


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