In the Pit
My full name is Juan Nepomuceno Carlos Perez Rulfo Aparicio, but as
you could imagine, it’s a little difficult to use it. That’s
why I chose Juan Carlos Rulfo.
I was born on January 24, 1964, in Mexico City. My father was a writer
and my mother has always liked plants and dogs. I like the combination
of the two life experiences. The result is something like waiting peacefully
for rainy days.
I live in the city—Mexico City is a huge city, but its size was
not the reason I couldn’t see it all; most of the time I was searching
outside of it, as usual. One day my father died. That day was the beginning
of something very important in my life. I don’t wish that kind
of experience on anyone, but it is indeed a very deep and important
one. From that very moment I started to look out for things that could
disappear: stories, persons, pictures…the kind of phenomena that
means time and memory. Since then I’ve made a couple of films
about old people who are my relatives, just because I like to listen
to their stories. The first was a short film about my grandfather, Grandfather
Cheno and Other Stories. The second was a long feature on my father,
and now this film is about my own place—the city.
I like to search where no one else would think to look. However, sometimes
I don’t know how to look because I don’t know how to see.
I enjoy going unnoticed. When I am unseen, I see best.
All of these thoughts came to mind in March 2004, as I made casual visits
to the workers who were constructing the second level of the Periférico
freeway, better known among Mexico City’s inhabitants as The Second
Deck. I shared unexpected moments and conversations with these workers,
men and women who work night and day, in the heat and in the cold, among
curses, compliments and catcalls, but mostly among the indifference,
and above all the irritation of those who use these routes to get to
their destinations. Indeed, this construction site has caused traffic
jams and foul moods, floods, accidents and even deaths, but what is
undeniable is that this urban monument will last for much longer than
the feelings it provokes. Designs never before seen in the engineering
of Mexico City that shall endure much longer than any of us can imagine.
However visually rich it may be, this is only the construction aspect
of the film, and what constitutes the heart and soul of this project
are the lives that permeate the construction. Through them we perceive
the city in which we live, how close and how very far away we are from
ourselves. In the workers’ own words, this is a laboratory full
of feelings and anecdotes, full of comedy and drama. This is the inside
of The Second Deck.
In this film you are not going to learn how many columns were constructed,
or how much it has cost; this film comes from the desire to watch this
world, to go further than the concept of “working class”
and to break prejudices. The catalogued “working class”
watches itself either with disrespect or with compassion, and this film
is a contemplative, respectful and beloved journey into a world full
of fresh, vital and entertaining stories, full of dignity and liberty.
All around the world we can find workers—miners, farmers, etc.—and
we can imagine the tremendous landscape in which they are working. What
we don’t know is anything about their day-to-day feelings. What
I could say right now is simply that I’ve learned a lot about
the simplicity and power of life.
One day a friend who saw the film asked me: “You wrote all those
words and ideas for them, didn’t you?” It seems that people
don’t believe in what my workers are capable of saying. And it
is because of this that I made this film; I love the expression of ideas,
and the everyday language of the people who you wouldn’t believe
could express them.