At 9:00 pm on April 25, during the a large crowd eagerly waited to see director Guillermo del Toro, best known for movies such as Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hellboy. He sat down with Noah Cowan for a question and answer session where both Cowan and the audience could ask questions, offering more insight to him and his work.
Del Toro’s films are known both for their visual beauty and for handling more serious topics. As part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, he was also awarded the Irving M. Levin Award for directing at the Film Society Awards Night gala.
Calling himself “the king of imperfection” and the “best financed ten-year-old,” he spoke candidly about his personal life. He was very open with the audience, even sharing what happened when his father was kidnapped and held captive for seventy-two days in 1998. At the time, del Toro was writing the screenplay for Monte Cristo for Francis Ford Coppola, and he said that the police negotiator told him, “Go and write and draw monsters because you can’t keep tending the kidnapping 24 hours a day.”
He also spoke about his profession career, in which he has written over twenty screenplays including Beauty and the Beast, Monte Cristo, and In the Mouth of Madness. When asked to rank the probabilities of those three projects being made, he responded, “Every time I said I’m going to do this, something else happens. It’s like I never thought I was going to do Mimic after Chronos or Devil’s Backbone after Mimic.”
Probably one of the best, and also most disgusting, quotes of the evening was when he compared cinema to art: “I’m going to use a horrible fucking metaphor, but it’s almost like puking and then you organize what comes out.”
The news that spread like wildfire from this conversation was the about the Konami game Silent Hills. As the name implies, it was created to be part of the Silent Hill series, and spawned the demo PT (short for Playable Teaser) which became one of the most downloaded demos on the PlayStation Network.
An audience member asked, “Can you talk about Silent Hills, if that’s still on? And maybe about Kojima [Hideo Kojima, the producer of Metal Gear Solid] and what attracted you to Kojima?”
His response to that question was, “I tell you right now, officially, it’s not happening, and that breaks my greasy heart, because Hideo and I have been friends for many years. The teaser was amazing. What we had planned was amazing. But this is two for two where the video game companies have [had]a major upheaval. I think I’m the albatross of video games. I’m not going back there.”
After that news was picked up by Kotaku, it spread like wildfire until it finally received a response from Konami—confirming that the game was off. All of this happened within two days of the question being asked at a single event.
After the conversation, the audience was treated to a screening of Devil’s Backbone, a film about an orphanage in Mexico during the Spanish Civil War in 1939. It has all the expected earmarks of a Guillermo del Toro movie, and tells a wonderful ghost story where the children have to fight against amazing odds.
The movie is dark and very heavy—which isn’t a surprise, as that’s what he does best. It doesn’t have a happy ending, and almost feels like the ending of movies like The Bicycle Thief. In many ways, Devil’s Backbone felt like an Italian Neo-Realism movie with magical characters.
The evening was definitely memorable, and those who are curious about the whole conversation can watch it below in all of its not-safe-for-work glory: