Mexico Cinema

Until the early Eighties, the film production in Mexico suffered a crisis which was mitigated with the establishment, in 1983, of the IMCINE (Instituto Mexicano de la CINEmatografía). In this way, a new generation of authors was formed during the nineties, which marked a creative and productive revitalization. Two phenomena emerged in the 2000s. An ever greater osmosis with US cinema, which has welcomed directorial talents to Hollywood such as Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñarritu, Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo Arriaga, Alfonso Arau, and many actors and actresses: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Salma Hayek, María Rojo, Patricia Reyes. A development of independent and auteur cinema that has continued the main characteristics of Mexican cinema: melodrama, visionary nature, the black grotesque, social realism. The first films by the directors who later moved to the United States were international successes: Y tu mamá también (2001; Y tu mamá también – Your mother too) by Cuarón, a glowing story of a sentimental upbringing, Amores perros (2000), a composite meditation on chance and time by Iñarritu, who returned to Mexican themes with an existential elegy on disease, Biutiful (2010), produced with Cuarón and del Toro, while its historical screenwriter, Arriaga, has entrusted one of his short stories, El bufalo de la noche (2007), the story of a schizophrenic, to Jorge Hernandez Aldana.

Trends in auteur cinema have seen a large number of original filmmakers at work. Julián Hernández has established himself with strange and visionary gay melodramas in black and white: Hubo un tiempo en que los sueños dieron pasoa largas noches de insomnio (2000), Mil nubes de paz cercanel cielo, amor, jamás acabarás de ser amor (2003) , followed by El cielo dividido (2006) and Rabioso sol, rabioso cielo (2009), all with a queer theme, and by the metacinematographic Yo soy la felicidad de este mundo (2014); and Ignacio Ortiz with intimate and dark melodramas such as Mezcal (2006), Saber cuenta (2009), El mar muerto (2010). Successful film was El crimen del padre Amaro (2002; The crime of Father Amaro) by Carlos Carrera, from the novel by Eça de Queirós, a murky story about the sentimental education of a young novice, nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film, followed by the thriller Backyard – El traspatio (2009). In the 2000s, Amat Escalante’s cinema emerged, with dramas steeped in violence that obsessively sink into urban decay environments: Sangre (2005), Los bastardos (2008), Heli (2013), Palme d’Or for directing at Cannes. Carlos Reygadas’ visionary and mystical gaze was revealed in Japón (2002), Caméra d’or in Cannes, Batalla en el cielo (2005; Battle in the sky), Luz silenciosa (2007), Post tenebras lux (2012), which refer to the lofty lesson of Carl Theodor Dreyer and Andrej A. Tarkowskij. For Mexico 2008, please check

With auteur films presented at various international festivals, Jesús Mario Lozano was highlighted: the existential and philosophical meditation on time by Así (2005), the surreal puzzle Más allá de mí (2008) and the meditation on the human landscape Ventanas al mar (2012). But the greatest exponent of the visionary line is Guillermo del Toro with his poetics of the phantasmagoric: the success of El espinazo del diablo (2001; La spina del diavolo) continued with the ghostly El laberinto del fauno (2006; Il labirinto del fauno), both populated by the ghosts of the Spanish Civil War. Luis Estrada investigated the violent and criminal substratum of Mexico with paradoxical and grotesque films such as La dictatura perfecta (2014), bitter political satire, El infierno (2010), on drug trafficking in Mexico, while in a possible future Un mundo is set maravilloso (2006), imbued with black humor. Fernando Eimbcke has shot family comedies bordering on the surreal and paradoxical: Temporada de patos (2004), Lake Tahoe (2008; On Lake Tahoe), Club sándwich (2013). Another black comedy, in the style of the Coen brothers, is Matando Cabos (2004) by Alejandro Lozano, followed by Sultanes del Sur (2007), a daring story of a bank robbery, with a Tarantine atmosphere. Morirse en domingo (2006) by Daniel Gruener is a macabre film, perfectly in line with the Bunuellian tradition of acid and bewildered black humor, while horror tones mix with hallucinations in Kilometro 31 (2006), Rigoberto Castañeda’s first work.

On the realistic side, historical-political insights meet the rhythms of the urban drama and the theme of illegal immigration in the United States and at the same time the documentary is developed, attentive to ethnic and mythical roots. The films of Felipe Cazals ascribe to the trend of realism: Digna: hasta el último aliento (2004), on the pasionaria Digna Ochoa, Las vueltas del citrillo (2006), which explores a world of marginalized people with a style of magical realism, Chico Grande (2010), Ciudadano Buelna (2013), on Pancho Villa and the Mexican revolution. With El violín (2005), the story of a family of buskers involved in the armed revolt of the campesinos, Francisco Vargas highlighted. Rodrigo Plá imposed himself with La zona(2008), a confrontation between the boys of a rich neighborhood of Mexico City and those of the suburbs, mindful of Luis Buñuel ‘s Los olvidados (1950; The children of violence). Sin nombre (2009) by Cary Jôji Fukunaga, award for best direction and photography at the Sundance film festival, tells of the illegal expatriation of a family, together with the escape of a hunted boy from Mexico to the USA. In the documentary line, Nicolás Echeverría, Pedro González-Rubio, Juan Carlos Rulfo, Antonino Isordia Llamazares have distinguished themselves.

An intense female creativity with interesting female directors also emerged in Mexico Dana Rotberg with Otilia Rauda (2001), from a novel by Sergio Galindo, a female portrait of a girl with a beautiful body, but with a face marred by a stain; Marisa Sistash with stories of ‘cloudy adolescence’: Nadie te oye: perfume de violetas (2001), La niña en la piedra (2006), El brassier de Emma (2007), Lluvia de luna (2011); Patricia Riggen with La misma luna (2007; The same moon), on the drama of illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States; María Novaro with Las buenas hierbas (2010), an all-female story on the ancient ethnobotanical knowledge of pre-Columbian civilizations; Mercedes Moncada Rodríguez with inventive documentaries of an anthropological-political nature: La pasión de María Elena (2003), on a woman tarahumara, El inmortal (2005), La sirena y el buzo (2009) and Palabras mágica (para romper un encantamiento) (2013), on the Sandinista revolution, all shot in Nicaragua. In recent years, prominent directors of the previous generation have continued to work. Jaime Humberto Hermosillo continued along the lines of a provocative and ironic cinema, of flamboyant eroticism, with Escrito en el cuerpo dela noche (2001), eXXXorcismos (2002), El Edén (2004), El misterio de los almendros (2004), Dos Auroras (2005), Rencor (2005), Amor (2006), El malogrado amor de Sebastian (2006) and the autobiographical Juventud ( 2010). Paul Leduc with Cobrador: in god we trust (2006), from the stories of Rubem Fonseca, returned to the cinema after ten years confirming a poetic suspended between social issues and visual violence. Arturo Ripstein confirmed himself as Buñuel’s true heir, with the apocalyptic saraband of El evangelio de las maravillas (1998; The gospel of wonders), with La perdición de los hombres (2000), picaresque visionary adventure, Así es la vida (2000), contemporary version of the myth of Medea, La virgen de la lujuria (2002), heated erotic melodrama, El carnaval de Sodoma (2006), set in a sordid brothel, and Las razones del corazon (2011), a variation on Madame Bovary.

Mexico Cinema