Guillermo Arriaga‘s The Night Buffalo, a novel about an intense love triangle, intense sex, betrayal, death, schizophre- nia and stabs at redemption, has been made into a sharply-honed drama with the same title — produced by Arriaga and directed by Jorge Hernandez Aldana.

Night Buffalo writer-producer Guillermo Arriaga at United Talent Agency headquarters — Thursday, 1.11.07, 4:20 pm

It’ll have its debut at the end of next week at the Sundance Film Festival. This, obviously, is mainly what this article is about — bringing attention to Arriaga’s film and (perhaps) helping him to land a U.S. distribution deal, as well as catching up with a guy I regard as a friend.
In Arriaga’s words, The Night Buffalo is the story “of a man named Manuel (Diego Luna) and a very good friend named Gregorio (Gabriel Gonzalez), who is schizophrenic, and about Gregorio’s great love for his girlfriend Tania (Liz Gallardo). Manuel and Tania are the people Gregorio trusts the most, but while he’s going in and out of the mental asylums, they begin having a relationship until they fall in love. Obviously the relationship between Gregorio and his girlfriend is broken and the friendship is broken.
“When these friends seem to reconcile, Gregorio kills himself, and he leaves Manuel a box with secret messages after being dead, with letters, photographs, tapes, and slowly Manuel begins to get into the spiral of madness that his friend has been living. So this is a story of madness, of love, of a sense of being lost, of guilt, and how in the end you have to realize and assume the consequences of your acts and the valued importance of love.”
Arriaga is best known as the guy who penned Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s three films — Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel — as well as Tommy Lee JonesThe Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Arriaga is also known for the big creative split that happened between himself and Gonzalez Innarritu sometime early last year (but not revealed until last May, during the Cannes Film Festival).

Just before I left I snapped this shot of Arriaga and Night Buffalo co-producer Jimena Rodriguez — Thursday, 1,11,07, 5:45 pm

I’ve been friendly with Arriaga since the time of 21 Grams (i.e., three years ago). We’ve been talking about sitting down and discussing The Night Buffalo for a long while now. We finally did this in a conference room at the United Talent Agency building yesterday afternoon. Here’s what resulted.
Our chat went on for the better part of an hour. It’s a bit quieter than the Sienna Miller conversation. I wasn’t in a journalistically pushy frame of mind. The gentle, soft-spoken Arriaga had that effect on me.
At the end of our chat I also met Night Buffalo co-producer Jimena Rodriguez, who will be with Arriaga in Park City along with the rest of the team.
Sundance honcho Geoffrey Gilmore says that “male culture, the fickleness of love, and desperate searching by lost souls are only some of the subjects this highly erotic, superbly photographed depiction of young lovers touches upon.
“As despicable as the behavior of this very dysfunctional community is, the need for love and absolution is relentless. As a treatise on the cognitive dissonance of romance, The Night Buffalo is pure and powerful storytelling. It may show us things that we don’t want to see, but it will eventually lead us to a fuller understanding of the mysterious power of love.”
The first Night Buffalo screening will be at 9 pm on Friday, 1.19.07, at Park City’s Egyptian theatre. Then comes a midnight screening on 1.20 at the Holiday Village followed by a 3:15 pm the next day (Sunday) at the same venue. The screening at the Tower theatre in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, 1.24, at 9 pm doesn’t count because nobody goes to Salt Lake City during Sundance and the festival is essentially over anyway by that day.