A rich family's wedding erupts into violence in Michel Franco's new film at Venice, a searing indictment of the gap between rich and poor and a wake-up call to the threat of authoritarianism.
"Nuevo Orden,", premiering at the Venice film festival on Thursday, takes place in Mexico but the dystopia it imagines could take place not only there, with its 60 million poor, but in many countries around the world, Franco said ahead of the screening.
Similar dynamics are playing out worldwide -- whether in Chile, Colombia, Brazil or even the United States -- where the masses live without opportunities and the authorities exploit unrest to gain more power, he added.
"Every country for its particular reality is facing something similar," Franco told a press conference. "People are very dissatisfied everywhere and I fear governments are seizing the opportunity to control in a stronger way."
Bloodshed, betrayal, and terror are the ingredients feeding "Nuevo Orden," in which the social order of the privileged few dominating the exploited masses is turned on its head. But in the ensuing chaos and the substitution of one corrupt system for another, neither rich nor poor come out on top.
Franco takes the racial and social inequalities in Mexico today as the spark that propels the movie's action. The wealthy family celebrating a wedding at home is white-skinned, while the servants confined to the kitchen are all of Indian origin. A retired worker for the family who comes to the door to ask for help paying for an operation for his sick wife is handed bills pulled from expensive leather wallets -- and then told to leave.
- 'Good scare' -
Franco has called the movie a warning to his country and the world, and its dire depiction of Mexico -- in which the protests over social disparity end in a bloody coup d'etat -- is only "slightly off from reality".
"We deserve a good scare," Franco told AFP in an interview.
"I believe that representing violence on screen and the reasons that provoke it in a realistic and serious way, is the first step to understand what is happening ... and to be able to change things."
Franco described how growing up in Mexico, he saw first-hand how the vast majority of people did not share the same opportunities as those few at the top.
"I have always said, 'One day this is going to burst.' And it is not something that only happens in Latin America," he said.
"Everyone is upside down. And instead of understanding and improving, I think it's going to the extreme, where there's no empathy and if there's no empathy, there's no hope."
While "Nuevo Orden" was in post-production, protests erupted across the world, including the 'yellow vest" movement in France, the student demonstrations in Hong Kong, and the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, Franco recalled.
"The worrying thing is that the authorities control by violating human rights," he said.
"The protests over George Floyd's murder in the United States simply bring more abuses, more human rights violations, more police and military," he said.
"And that's in the United States, which is supposed to be a place with more guarantees."