An interview with Arturo Díaz Santana about his film RITA


Celebrating the life of rock star and activist Rita Guerrero, this intimate and music-fueled documentary by Arturo Diaz Santana captures the energy and artistry of a brilliant performer who was taken too soon. As the lead singer of famous band La Santa Sabina, Guerrero became a central figure in Mexico’s 90s rock scene and a fierce advocate for social justice who supported the Zapatista movement. Blending footage from her role as an entertainer that the audience came to love, with personal moments highlighting her off-stage personality, as well as interviews with those who were touched by her magic, the film honors her legacy but also serves a portrait of a woman who was a fighter till the end. Adoring fans, as well as younger generations who will discover her for the first time, will enjoy this moving cinematic tribute
Rita was screened at 2019 Hola Mexico Film Festival, the following is our interview with Arturo Díaz Santana, director of the film.

Bijan Tehrani: What motivated you to make a film about Rita Guerrero?
Arturo Díaz Santana: She was a friend of mine, she got together as a couple with my best friend, so we became friends, we made trips and we used to sing a lot with guitars and jaranas, in an informal way. In those days I realized that she was a nice person, idealistic and with a great sense of humor. Also, she was a unique artist, and after her death I knew that her story hadn’t been told, so I did.
BT: You have a great footage from Rita Guerrero performances, how did you pick the parts for your films.
ADS: The work of the research of materials was made by Jorge Paredes, who provided the film editor Sabino Alva with thousands of images, and it took him more than a year to reach a final cut. Of course, there was a script to follow, that I wrote, dividing the storytelling in eight parts.

BT: Interviews in Rita gives a very interesting and clear insight to Rita Guerrero life and work, how did you pick and find the subjects of your interviews?
ADS: I knew most of them when Rita was among us, for example her sisters and her mother and some of her friends. I reached all of them, so I figured out the rest of the interviews by talking to them.

BT: Rita Guerrero beside being a great artist, was a social justice activist, how important was this aspect of Rita Guerrero’ life and how it has been reflected in your film?
ADS: It was very important to show her commitment to social causes because she was very idealistic and it was the engine of her politics and her militancy in culture, using music to transform society. In the movie, I use stock material that me and Argel Gómez recorded in the Lacandona jungle with Zapatistas in different occasions.

BT: How important is Rita as far as bringing awareness about Rita Guerrero life for your generation in Mexico and those outside Mexico that do not now this great artist?
ADS: It is my opinion that Mexican youth need to be inspired by our own idols. It’s important to know her as an artist who shaped the cultural way we are now, that created identity and community with her passion. And for outsiders it’s important to know that in Mexico very important things happen.

BT: Making a factual and at the same time an entertaining documentary documentary is always a serious challenge for filmmakers, how did overcome this challenge in making of Rita?
ADS: I presented a dramatic storytelling because that’s what moves consciousness with synthesis and rhythm. Music is also a powerful emotional weapon, so to tell this story, I had both.

BT: How Rita has been received by critics and audiences so far?
ADS: Super good, this time I feel that everyone feels the same way that I do, touched and inspired.

BT: Will Rita have a US release?
ADS: I hope so, I will be working for it. Now it’s available on Amazon Prime Video.

BT: What is your next project?
ADS: I am currently working in a documentary about the legendary Mexican anarchists: the brothers Flores Magón through some contemporary political prisoner cases in la Sierra Mazateca, Oaxaca, Mexico.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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