news Consider This Brunch: ‘Bardo’ Was as Personal for Its Cast as It Was for Iñárritu

Few films released in 2022 make a bolder visual statement than “Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths).” Alejandro González Iñárritu’s sprawling film about an acclaimed documentarian returning to his hometown in Mexico to receive an award has captivated audiences with its unapologetically surreal images since premiering at the Venice International Film Festival in September.

It begins with a newborn baby asking to be inserted back into his mother’s womb, and only gets crazier from there, as Iñárritu attempts to make sense of life and art while looking for meaning in a world that can seem devoid of it.

To discuss bringing such a singular artistic vision to life, the film’s stars Daniel Giménez Cacho and Ximena Lamadrid, production designer Eugenio Caballero, and supervising sound editor and sound designer Martín Hernandez joined IndieWire’s Eric Kohn for a panel at IndieWire’s Consider This FYC Brunch.

“The movie, for the viewer, is more an album of sound,” Hernandez said. “Alejandro is a very sound driven director. He’s as much about sound as he is image.” But as much of a sensual immersion as “Bardo” is — and one long-take dancing scene is in a soon to be demolished club called “The California” is pretty much the definition of a sensual immersion — it’s a personal too. Iñárritu has talked about how the lead character of his film, Silverio Gama (Giménez Cacho), is one he can relate to: Gama is a journalist who returns to Mexico after years abroad, much like Iñárritu found international success making films outside of Mexico like “Birdman” and “The Revenant.”

During the casting process, Giménez Cacho said, “Alejandro and I drank a lot of Mezcal for four or five hours. He wanted me to know about his life, because this movie is so much about his life. What you see in this movie is my life. It’s the closest to my life of any character I’ve ever played. This is a unique journey – 26 weeks of shooting. Of course the pandemic was in the middle so we had to stop twice. And because of the pandemic also I was isolated – I was not living at home with my family, which was great.”

For newcomer Lamadrid, the film echoed her life as well. “My character is Mexican but she grew up away from Mexico her whole life away from LA,” she said. “I feel much like the character, because I had only been living in Mexico one year at the time. I am Mexican but I had been living in Dubai since I was a child.”

Lamadrid feels truth comes in many forms. “I think there’s truth in ‘Star Wars.’ There’s truth in Marvel. And there’s truth in smaller, personal films like this.

For the production designer Caballero, what was important to him was “this concept of being misplaced, of being out of place. No, he doesn’t belong in Mexico. And then this represents itself in the set design: there’s an apartment in the desert, at one moment there’s water everywhere. The sets had to convey the complexity of Silverio, the contradictions and the sophistication.”

“Bardo” is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, working from a script he co-wrote with Nicolás Giacobone. It stars Daniel Giménez-Cacho, Griselda Siciliani, Ximena Lamadrid, Luis Couturier, Íker Sánchez Solano, and Luz Jiménez. The film was shot on film by “Uncut Gems” and “The Lost City of Z” cinematographer Darius Khondji.