“In Mexico everybody makes movies for all the right reasons, none of which are to get rich.”– Alfonso Cuarón
There are definitely three things to say about Mexican cinema: it is very popular, it has influence over cinemas of the world and it is in general independent. In Mexican independent films you can see the passion of filmmaking and presenting the national identity and self-determination and not being about money.
ÉCU collected the questions you would surely ask about Mexican indie cinema.
1. Why is it difficult for Indie films in Mexico?
One of the most famous Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro accuses film distributors. They are only interested in the films, which definitely can bring money. Even if the film receives recognitions in international film festivals and international film companies strive to receive the distribution rights, the national distributors remain indifferent. Independent films stay in the Mexican cinemas for a week or two and they are put away to ‘make a place’ for more profitable films like international blockbusters and wait for distribution for years despite being internationally acclaimed.
2. What are the most important periods of the Mexican independent cinema?
The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema and Nuevo Cine Mexicano (New Mexican Cinema). The Golden Age is time between the beginning of 30s until the end of 60s and belongs to one of the main occasions in the film culture providing completely independent and quality films. Mexican filmmakers could finally split off from Hollywood and make films concentrated on national issues. Cinema was also used to develop the national feeling and spirit among the Mexicans and strengthen Mexican identity. The first film of this era was Let’s Go with Pancho Villa (orig. Vámonos con Pancho Villa, 1936) about the Mexican Revolution and portraying Pancho Villa as an anti-hero. This war drama is considered the best Mexican film. Nuevo Cine Mexicano started in 90s as directors established independent productions to make more personal films. This time period has a big European influence and is presented by “The Three Amigos” Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
3. Are there any independent film festivals in Mexico?
Of course! For example, Riviera Maya Underground Film Festival which screens every year independent short films and documentaries from filmmakers around the world, supporting dialogue between filmmakers, experts and the public and promoting cultural exchange. Another film festival worth a visit is Ambulante Documentary Film Festival. It was founded in Mexico in 2005 by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz with the purpose of supporting and promoting documentary films as a tool for social and cultural transformation. Ambulante is a ‘travelling’ film festival and brings documentary films and training programs to places where they are rarely available all over Mexico.
4. Where could Mexican independent filmmakers start?
There are several non-state and non-profit organizations in Mexico who support independent and innovative filmmakers. For example, the Mexican Film Institute Imcine promotes the development of national cinema, supports the filmmakers in each sphere and helps also to distribute the Mexican films outside the country.
5. Are there Mexican independent films I probably know?
To one of the best independent films from the last decade belongs Pan’s Labyrith (Spanish: El laberinto del faun, 2006) from acclaimed Mexican director Guilliermo del Toro. This film is a mix of different genres: war drama and fantasy. The story is about a girl who tries to survive the Franco’s authoritarian fascist regime in Spain and escapes in the dusky fantasy world. Pan’s Labyrinth had his premiere at 2006 Cannes Film Festival and won numerous awards including three Oscars and three BAFTA awards. Another famous Mexican indie is Y Tu Mamá También (English: And Your Mother Too, 2001) from Alfonso Cuarón. This example of Nuevo Cine Mexicano is an intelligent and controversial road-movie about two friends and it is not a simple celebration of teenage sex as some people think but more overview of political and economical issues.
In conclusion, ÉCU shares the same opinion about Mexican cinema as Jason Wood, the author of “The Faber Book of Mexican Cinema “: “There is an honesty about Mexican cinema that you just cannot fake. Mexican directors tell stories that everyone can relate to in an interesting and kinetic way.”