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LatinoBuzz: Mexico's Young Filmmakers Are Breaking Records and Pushing Boundaries

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by Vanessa Erazo
May 9, 2012 11:55 AM
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Mexico’s film industry broke records last year. Box office attendance reached an all-time high and due in part to increased public funding, local productions rose to more than 70 feature films. Yet, as is true in all of Latin America, Hollywood blockbusters edged out national films. Less than 10% of ticket sales were from Mexican movies. Still, there is much to be optimistic about. The amount of female filmmakers is on the rise along with increased budget allocations for state film financing. The vast majority of Mexican cinema is government funded (about 80%) and with more money comes greater opportunities for emerging artists to breakthrough. As part of this recent revival in Mexican cinematic production a new generation of directors have emerged, pushing boundaries, challenging stereotypes, and raising the international profile of Mexican films.

Carlos Reygadas

Post Tenebras Lux
Post Tenebras Lux

He didn’t start making films until he was in his thirties and remarkably his three feature films Japón, Batalla en el Cielo, and Luz Silenciosa (Silent Light) (ISA:Bac Films) all premiered at Cannes. His films deal with serious topics like love, spirituality, and death. And in the face of criticism, continues to defend his choice of depicting explicit sex scenes in Batalla en el Cielo and animal cruelty in Japón. His most recent feature is the much blogged about Post Tenebras Lux, an official selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Natalia Almada

She makes haunting, poetic, hypnotic and pensive documentaries. Her films have reached top-tier festivals like Sundance, Cannes, New Directors/New Films and have played at MoMA, The Guggenheim Museum and The Whitney Biennial.  All Water Has a Perfect Memory, Al Otro Lado, El General, and her most recent film El Velador (The Night Watchman) are infused with her unique perspective. Coming from a bicultural family--she was born in Mexico to a Mexican father and American mother--she is able to highlight contradictions in both worlds using striking imagery and meditative silences.

Nicolás Pereda

Since 2007, he has proven to be a prolific artist, having directed five feature-length films: ¿Dónde están sus historias? (Where Are Their Stories?) (ISA:FIGa Films), Juntos (Together) (ISA:FIGa Films), Perpetuum Mobile (ISA:Ondamax Films), Todo en fin el silencio lo ocupaba (All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence) (FIGa Films), and Verano de Goliat (Summer of Goliath) (ISA: FIGa FIlms). Pereda uses many of the same actors and characters in his films, including Gabino Rodriguez and Teresa Sanchez, who are not professional actors. He mixes fiction with documentary in fractured narratives that depict the absurdity that occurs in everyday life. Though only in his twenties he has had at least ten retrospectives of his films at cinemas and archives around the world. In 2010 his film Verano de Goliat (Summer of Goliath) was awarded the Orizzonti award for best film at the Venice Film Festival.

Jonás Cuarón

Son of the Academy Award nominated director Alfonso Cuarón, (Children of Men, Y tu mamá también) Jonás Cuarón stepped out of his father’s shadow and burst onto the scene with Año Uña (Year of the Nail).The film takes a year’s worth of photos Cuarón took of spontaneous everyday events, that he later assembled to create a fictional narrative. Using only still photos and the original subjects’ narration of events, the dialogue switches between English and Spanish, and the film between reality and fiction. The film’s opening explains that though the story is fictional, the people and the moments frozen in time by the photographs are very real.

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