Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, acclaimed for his movies "Babel" and "Amores Perros," opened Morelia's International Film Festival on Saturday with his newest work set against the plight of migrants.
Inarritu said, though, that "Biutiful" is not a movie with a sweeping theme about politics or despair _ rather it is the story of a dying man discovering what is most important as life runs out.
The main character, Uxbal, played by Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, lives and works in a Barcelona slum as a middleman for African and Chinese migrants who is dealing with a bipolar ex-wife and trying to make ends meet for his two children.
Though the raw portrait of migrant life and their exploitation is a key secondary theme, the tragedies that unfold are not a commentary on immigration, Inarritu said.
"I'm not trying to make them victims or saints," he said. "I'm just trying to integrate them into a dialogue, show that they're human beings with virtues and flaws, with their needs as parents and children."
Inarritu said Barcelona is just one of many cities around the world grappling with the growing flow of migrants. He acknowledged the phenomenon is heartbreaking, too, in his own country _ where 72 migrants from Central and South America were recently massacred, reportedly after refusing to work for a drug gang that kidnapped them on their way to the U.S.
But he said political arguments over migration are for others to make, not his movie.
"It's the story of a father and his children, a man who finds love in his most difficult moments," the director said. "There are no accusations. It's not a sermon ... it's the realization that in the final moments of life, what's most important is love, forgiveness, compassion."
The film, which Mexico has nominated to compete for best foreign film in next year's Oscars, is Inarritu's first departure from his well-known style of interweaving several simultaneous plot lines.
He focuses entirely on Bardem's character in "Biutiful," saying he wanted to create a more lineal story, yet at the same time circular. The film begins and ends with the same scene.