Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the sonic wizard behind art-rock band The Mars Volta, is a guitar god to be feared. But indie film should watch its back, too. On Thursday, his directorial debut, The Sentimental Engine Slayer, premieres at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
“I never intended to do anything with this film besides go through the process, learn from it and then move on to the next,” Rodriguez-Lopez, 34, told Wired.com in an e-mail interview. “Now that I’m dealing with the reality that it is getting invited to these festivals, and that the film is no longer ‘mine,’ I am nervous as all hell!”
Like much of Rodriguez-Lopez’s musical work, The Sentimental Engine Slayer is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story steeped in the drugs and drama of a youth spent swimming upstream in desolate El Paso, Texas. Rodriguez-Lopez didn’t just direct the movie — he stars in it, playing the lead role of Barlam, a young man running with hustlers, whores and drug addicts.