Dallas International Film Festival salutes Mexican filmmakers with minifest today

13/04/2010 at 11:02 pm Leave a comment

When Mexican cinema exploded into the American consciousness in 2006, the first AFI Dallas International Film Festival was still a year away. Festival founder Michael Cain, however, was already aware of what was happening with moviemaking south of the border. His earlier Deep Ellum Film Festival had put a premium on it.

“The first Deep Ellum Film Festival we actually said was to celebrate the best in American and Latin American cinema, so we saw it coming 11 years ago,” Cain recalls. “We’ve been dabbling in this for years.”

That dabbling has turned into a formal feting at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival. In partnership with the Mexican Consulate, the festival is putting a spotlight on Mexican movies today in honor of the bicentennial of Mexican independence.

This mini-festival-within-the-festival concludes tonight when Oscar-nominated screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga receives a Star Award at the Latino Cultural Center. Arriaga wrote 2006’s Babel, also nominated for best picture and five other Academy Awards. That same year, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men received multiple Oscar nominations as well.

Mexican films had begun bubbling up earlier in the decade. Amores Perros, written by Arriaga for Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, was nominated for a best foreign film Oscar in 2000. They followed it up with the twice-nominated 21 Grams in 2003.

“They tried not to make American films,” explains Cain, now chairman of the Dallas Film Society, which puts on DIFF. “They decided to create things that were from their heart and in their own style. They found their voice.”

Adolfo Ayuso Audry, Mexico’s consul for cultural and economic affairs in Dallas, sees the American recognition of Mexican cinema as part of a wave of Hispanic culture that includes food, music and visual art. “We’re very passionate,” he says. “We love life. We have a unique sense of humor. And we want to share that with the world.”

While the festival contains a couple dozen international films this year, Cain would like to see a spotlight on one country at each edition. With Texas’ proximity, he says, “the first one being Mexico made sense.”

This afternoon’s screenings at the Magnolia Theatre includes Arriaga’s directorial debut, The Burning Plain, which showed at last year’s AFI Dallas. Also on the program: Northless, about a would-be immigrant who repeatedly tries to cross the border, and Without Her , which follows a Mexico City TV producer and his family after a tragic accident.

Plan your life: The Dallas International Film Festival’s “Celebration of the Mexican Bicentennial” continues today with screenings of Northless at 1 p.m., Without Her at 4 p.m. and The Burning Plain at 4:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Theatre, 3699 McKinney Ave., Dallas. The Burning Plain is free. Guillermo Arriaga receives the Star Award at 7:30 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St., Dallas. 214-295-5142 or www.dallasfilm.org.

By MANUEL MENDOZA / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Source: dentonrc.com


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