Top 5 Most Anticipated Mexican Films for 2011
Esteemed Mexican film critic Carlos Bonfil makes an interesting point in a recent article for La Jornada, independent Mexican films which garner critical acclaim in the international film circuit and are therefore perceived as the state of Mexican films, are rarely if ever seen by the general public in its own country. Without attempting to deconstruct the business that enables this paradox, its safe to say that the support Mexican films receive from abroad goes a long way in helping these independent voices continue to be heard. Notice I did not mention the word “made”, and that’s because Mexican film schools and government grants do fund many of these, it’s the lack of distribution support that is broke.
Here are but just a few upcoming directing debuts and brand-spanking new Mexican films to be on the lookout for in 2011. Some may have already made their debut in 2010 and will hopefully continue to find audiences in the new year, while others are yet to make their mark and introduce new talent. You’ll find a mix of independent, art-house films and the homegrown national commercial factory that sometimes turns out a film that is both original and has commercial wide appeal. Notably, the production company that has managed to successfully navigate both sides of this coin is the cool and slick genre house, Lemon Films, the production company behind Private Perez on this list.
#.5 We Are What We Are (SOMOS LO QUE HAY) written and directed by Jorge Michel Grau This eerie allegorical film premiered in the venerable Directors Fortnight section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and traveled to many international film festivals since. The slow-burn cannibal family tale was eaten up by Fantastic Film Festival audiences last October where it picked up Best Film and Best Screenplay awards. Released December 3rd in Mexico, we can expect it stateside sometime in 2011 from IFC ‘s Midnight label. I find it gets a lot of mileage from the strength of the concept. Indeed the film’s foreboding tone carries much of the film (as does Paulina Gaitan from Sin Nombre). Nonetheless the social –horror hybrid approach is smart not only because it widens the film’s appeal to a whole other genre fan base but it is also a novel way into the social commentary – in this case the dystopian set disintegration of a family living off Mexico’s bottom pit class rung.
#.4 Malaventura directed by Michel Lipkes and written by Fernando del Razo Recently wrapped and already highly anticipated is Michel Lipkes’ feature directing debut, MALAVENTURA. Lipkes studied film at La Sorbone in Paris as well as Mexico’s Centro De Capacitación Cinematográfica . In many ways Lipkes has been right smack on the pulse of the independent film scene as producer, consultant and until last year, Programmer for the premiere Mexico City festival, the now defunct FICCO (which this year re-sprung as Distrital). Malaventura is described as “A day in the life of an abandoned old man in the streets of downtown Mexico City”. Previously, Lipkes short, LEGLESS BOY WHO CANNOT DANCE won Best Short film at the 2008 AFI Festival.
#.3 Private Juan Perez (SALVANDO A JUAN PEREZ) directed and written by Beto Gómez A hilarious irreverent action comedy (think Team America meets Saving Private Ryan), about a ruthless narco boss who in order to gain his mother’s respect and fulfill her dying wish, must follow and bring back his younger brother from war duty in Iraq. Pitting the most dangerous Mexican drug trafficking dynasty against Middle East terrorists makes for some outrageously, strictly entertaining moments in this glossy action and special effects powered Lemon Films production.
#.2 (tie) De Dia Y De Noche – directed by Alejandro Molina and written by Molina and Roberto Garza Angula Alejandro Molina, who founded film school, Arte 7 in Mexico City, makes his feature debut by venturing into Mexico’s fairly un-tread science fiction genre, accomplishing a lot of atmospheric tone with not a lot of budget. Produced by prolific and intrepid producer Jaime Romandia of Mantarraya Films, By Day and By Night’s classic albeit overly earnest form may have challenged some movie goers at the Morelia Film Festival where it premiered in competition. An entirely originally conceived idea, the story takes place in a future where in order to maximize efficiency and deal with overpopulation people have been divided into day and night creatures with the use of an enzyme. Within this world it’s a touching, against all-odds story about the irrevocable, biological bond of family among other big themes. Here’s hoping this is only a taste of more Mexican filmmakers tackling the science fiction genre.
#.2 (tie) Marimbas From Hell (MARIMBAS DEL INFIERNO) directed and written by Julio Hernandez Marimbas is a delicious combination of arthouse and indie quirky. It’s the second feature from half-Mexican, half-Guatemalan, U.S. born Julio Hernandez who studied film at Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, CCC. While shooting his first narrative feature Gasoline (which gained a lot of attention from the festival world in 2009) in Guatamala, Hernandez met a weary struggling marimba player named Alfonso Trunche, and began to shoot a documentary about him. When Don Alfonso became reluctant about baring his depressing life on camera, Hernandez proposed they switch gears and collaborate on a fictional film. The result is this delightfully poignant and organically seamed construction of doc and fiction which delivers some pretty awesome laugh-out loud moments. Along with a loony street-kid he befriends, Don Alfonso comes up with the radical idea of spicing up his musical repertoire by teaming up with an eccentric, former Satanist and black metal rocker in the hopes of getting some paying gigs around town. Their sheer tenacity and humor in the face of the economy’s decline is a testament to the people that make up the character of Guatemala. Marimbas previously screened at San Sebastian, Toronto and won Best Film prize in Morelia. Look out for it at a US festival soon.
#.1 The Language of the Machetes (EL LENGUAJE DE LOS MACHETES) written and directed by Kyzza Terrazas I cannot wait for audiences to discover one of my favorite films in recent memory. Terrazas, who wrote 2007’s DEFICIT, Gael Garcia Bernal’s directing debut, headed development for Gael and Diego’s Canana outfit until sometime in 2008 to begin production on his own feature. A fluid and intimate handheld camera follows a young punk artist and video director couple’s relationship as it precariously implodes from and with the pressure of Mexico City’s disparate class war and corruption. The voice is fresh, desperate, furious and passionate, it also boasts an incredibly strong female role embodied by the authentic performance of real deal punk rocker, Jessy Bulbo who makes her acting debut. Showcased in San Sebastian’s very popular “Films in Progress” program, you need to keep your eyes peeled for this one as it will soon make its world premiere.
Source: Christine Davila for IonCinema
Entry filed under: INDUSTRY NEWS, LATIN AMERICAN FILM, MEXICAN CINEMA. Tags: Alejandro Molina, Alfonso Trunche, Beto Gómez, By Day and By Night, Carlos Bonfil, De día y de noche, DEFICIT, Directors Fortnight section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, EL LENGUAJE DE LOS MACHETES, Fantastic Film Festival, Fernando del Razo, film school Arte 7 in Mexico City, Gael Garcia-Bernal, Gasoline, IFC ‘s Midnight label, independent Mexican films, Jaime Romandia of Mantarraya Films, Jessy Bulbo, Jorge Michel Grau, Julio Hernandez, Kyzza Terrazas, La Jornada, LEGLESS BOY WHO CANNOT DANCE, Lemon Films, Malaventura, Marimbas del infierno, MARIMBAS FROM HELL, Michel Lipkes, Morelia Film Festival, Private Juan Perez, Roberto Garza Angula, SALVANDO A JUAN PEREZ, Somos lo que hay, The Language of the Machetes, We Are What We Are.