What can be the alternative to family? In Buoyancy by Rodd Rathjen, escaping from the family leads straight to hell...
MS: That film is very much about the economic precariousness in which the family lives in Cambodia. The son wants a better future for himself; he wants to earn money. The father wants him to work for the good of the family. When the son hears about the factories in Thailand, he sets off. But he doesn’t have the money for the journey and becomes enslaved to work off the debt.
PL: At the beginning of the film, the boy gives his father a couple of home truths. That is extremely refreshing, coming from the mouth of a 15-year-old. He’s a clever kid who has to grow up too fast – a kind of forced coming-of-age. He has the outward appearance of a child, but he has to think like an adult.
In the Name of God
In many of the films, the constraints of the family are compounded by the constraints of religious sects. That’s also the case in A Dog Barking at the Moon…
MS: Yes. Ultra-religious communities. In A Dog Barking at the Moon, the mother thinks she can cure the father of his homosexuality. To her, the sect seems to present the only possibility to escape from the crisis of their lives. She’s trapped and feels powerless.
PL: A Dog Barking at the Moon addresses the topic in a rather ironic way and depicts the most inept sect you can imagine. You can see the same principle at work in Temblores (Tremors) by Jayro Bustamante. The protagonist goes to a sect-like conversion camp because religion defines homosexuality as an illness. The Brazilian Divino Amor (Divine Love) also tackles the theme of religion. The literal-evangelical interpretation of the Bible leads to organised sex orgies in the name of God. Irony plays a big part here. But the director Gabriel Mascaro had no idea when he began filming, how the political situation in Brazil would develop. Reality has quickly caught up with the film and eclipsed its science-fictional nature.