Eduardo Verastegui: Defending the Faith through Art
What impact did making the film have on the other actors in the film, like Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria?
I don't know, I only know about the kid (Mauricio Kuri who played the 13-year-old Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio). I spent some time with him and his family, and he was very touched and moved by the film. I only worked for two weeks; I was in and out and didn't have time to know the other actors, but I am sure, that sooner or later, seeds were planted in our hearts, and it's just a matter of time.
Why did the filmmakers change the circumstances of Blessed Anacleto Gonzales Flores' death?
If you were faithful to every detail like that, it would be a very hard film to watch. If you showed too much, it would be like The Passion of the Christ with blood all over the place. You don't want to show a man stripped naked, hung by his thumbs, having his feet slashed, being tortured for hours. It was important to show that he died for his faith on the camera, in a very dramatic way. If it is too violent people will not watch it. The way the film is right now, people are saying it's too violent, but it's nothing compared to the reality.
A lot of people were complaining because The Passion was too violent, but actually if you read the book of the Prophet Isaiah, it describes the death of Jesus, it says, you can count His bones. What we saw in The Passion was nothing. The director and the producer wanted to make it more watchable for the people who are more sensitive to violence, they wanted to reach them too, and they wanted to bring the volume a little bit down so you can still see the essence of the film, and the message and the heroes.
What so you think is the lesson of the witness of Bl. Anacleto Gonzalez Flores?
It's how a simple man who is a lawyer, who loves his family and is living a beautiful life in Mexico, working hard, a man of faith, a man of character, loyal to his faith, to his family, a man who wants to be a saint, and who loves God very much, is trying to allow the love of God to enter into his heart so he can love people with the love of God. A simple man living his life in the middle of peaceful Mexico, and boom, everything is threatened. He has three choices: do I leave for a country where I can continue to live my life with my family and my Catholic faith where I am not going to be persecuted; or do I join the army of the Cristeros and start killing people, justified by defending my faith, since it was the government who started it; or take the opportunity of being a martyr, being a saint, of trying to defend my faith with peaceful means?
And he chose that one, which is the hardest one. The first one is 'let's just leave'; the second one, 'let's get a gun and defend my faith'; but the third one, 'I'm going to try and defend my faith with peaceful means', doesn't mean that you are going to be left alone; it means that you are going to really work hard, but, you say, 'if, in the process it means that they will get me, they will torture me, I will offer it up to God'. That example changed many people; things like that impacted more people after his life than before. A lot of people were saying, "let's join the war," and he said 'no' and he was right.
This film engendered a lot of thoughtful discussion about violent versus non-violent approaches to injustice in the blogosphere, and on Facebook. When we can expect to see Little Boy in theatres?
Leticia Velasquez interviewed Eduardo Verastegui for Catholic Media Review. She writes from Connecticut, where she also blogs at Cause of Our Joy.