A Better Life-The Movie
Interview with Chris Weitz, Director of A Better Life
By: Toby de la Torre
Toby de la Torre: Chris, I watched you work throughout the filming of “A Better Life”. One thing that I am certain of is that there was alot of passion and personal concern throughout all of the scenarios. Can you describe some of the personal emotions and concerns you had making the movie?
Chris Weitz: My grandmother is Mexican — she came to this country when she was seventeen — and my wife is Latina (half Mexican-American, half Cuban), so for me ,making the film was an important way of exploring my roots. I definitely had a sense of having in some respects lost touch with my culture, so this working experience was a good excuse to study Spanish, which I am still doing. To see the pride that people bring to keeping the culture of the Charros alive is very inspiring to me; and of course it is also very melancholy when you think of people of Mexican descent in Los Angeles who feel rootless and disconnected. The portion of the movie that we shot at Pico Rivera is very bittersweet — we see a proud man, who has left behind his tierra to try to make a better life for his family; and also his son, who is seeing maybe for the first time, the culture that belongs to him. He hasn’t been able to get the benefit of this, because his father works so hard and can’t be at home very much. The movie is really about their journey towards understanding one another and about the sacrifices that parents make for their families.
Toby de la Torre: Your production team and everybody involved in the making of “A Better Life” were wonderful and respectful to everyone. I understand some actors and contractors were willing to work for less than usual. What were your biggest challenges in making the movie?
Chris Weitz: I’m glad that the crew and cast were respectful to everyone in the locations in which we worked; the people there welcomed us with open arms, and we were very grateful to get a chance to shoot in real locations and to capture on film the way people live their lives. This was a big concern — to be accurate about all of the worlds that we were portraying, from the Charro culture to the culture of Boyle Heights, which is not rich in monetary terms but very rich in spirit. Even gang members deserved to be treated with an understanding eye; that was something that Father Gregory Boyle at Homeboy Industries teaches. The camera can lie but it can also tell the truth by keeping its eye open for the little details of life; and as for me and my crew it was our job to try to paint an honest picture of the struggles and victories that Mexican American people experience in this country. Read More>>>
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