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A Cop Movie, directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios, follows two professional actors who go through the process of becoming a cop in Mexico City, and the filmmaker tells The Hollywood Reporter the film was of personal interest.
“The opportunity to use my background in fiction in order to delve into the world of nonfiction turned this into a real passion project for me,” says Ruizpalacios, who used a unique, hybrid narrative approach to document the real-world challenges facing two Mexico City police officers — romantic partners, as well as on the streets — as they contend with both rampant crime and internal corruption.
“There is a huge lack of understanding on behalf of citizens regarding how we all participate in the impunity crisis,” says Ruizpalacios. “I want to contribute to change our relationship with the police and break the prejudices that remain deeply rooted in citizens’ perception of the police. The immersive process that the actors follow, a way of making the film process itself, is a way of understanding what police officers go through every day. I hope that this film becomes a catalyst for generating a larger conversation around our relationship with the police and how we can work together to lower the levels of impunity.”
Ruizpalacio admits he was faced with a seemingly insurmountable series of obstacles in making the film that he envisioned, particularly in achieving an authentic look behind the rigid, insular walls of the secretive, self-protective and routinely compromised ranks of law enforcement in Mexico City.
“When this film started to take shape, it soon presented us with the challenge of how to show things that are almost impossible to document about such an impenetrable group as the Mexico City police force,” the director explains. “How do we document the endless chain of extortions and all the nuanced behaviors surrounding it that our wonderfully generous characters, Teresa and Montoya, so openly shared with us in the interviews? It soon became apparent that fiction was going to be our aid.”
The filmmaker says that, historically, the film medium has been instrumental in shaping the public perception of police officers, an aspect he wanted to use to his advantage both overtly and subtly. “Film also has a fascination with cops,” he says. “Since the heyday of cinema, this profound relationship between film and police has manifested in all sorts of ways, turning ‘cop movie’ into a genre of its own. One of the layers that this movie explores is a playful dialogue with this genre: by subverting the audience’s expectations of the genre, we intend to highlight the weak spots and the blind spots of our police force.”
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