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Mexicans in Film

It was 2014 when Alfonso Cuarón made history as the first Latin American and Mexican filmmaker who won the Academy Award for Best Director. This event marked a trend for Mexican Directors becoming more popular in Hollywood and winning the mayor film awards since the following years from 2014 until today Alejandro G. Iñárritu won this Academy Award twice in row, followed by Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón again. The only year that a Mexican did not win the award (2016) was when there wasn’t any Mexican director competing. And this goes without mentioning the other Academy Award categories for which many other Mexicans have been nominated and won like Best Cinematography awarded to Emmanuel Lubezki three times (won consecutively 2013, 2014 and 2015) and one time to Guillermo Navarro (2006); Best Makeup and Hairstyling awarded to Beatrice De Alba (2002); and Best Production Design awarded to Eugenio Caballero (2006) and Brigitte Broch (2001). 

All of the films for which Mexicans have won Academy Awards offer a mix between technical innovations and passion that make slight references to our culture as a whole. It is this formula the one that is able to entrance foreign audiences looking for something otherwordly, fresh and emotional. This slowly growing trend of a Mexican new wave in cinema has been building up since a long time coming. “I think there are a lot of factors that have come into play to make them not just recognised as successful Mexican directors, but as successful directors. It might be timing that is crucial. It’s reflective of the climate in Hollywood, which is now much more open to alternatives.” Says Dr. Miriam Haddu senior lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Royal Holloway University. 

It is not only in film, but in the smaller screen Mexicans have also started to proliferate TV productions and companies. Names like Roberto Orci, Carlton Cuse and Alfonso Gómez-Rejón may sound familiar since they frequently appear on the beginning or end credits of many TV Shows.

There are also actors like Salma Hayek, Demián Bichir, Diego Luna, Gael García, who have become frequent collaborators on Hollywood productions sometimes even behind the camera as Producers, directors or screenwriters.  

Hollywood is not the only film industry that has recognized Mexican potential in the cinema world. Ever since the premiere in 1946 of “María Candelaria” at the Cannes Film Festival, Mexican film productions have been frequently screened and awarded on european film festivals like the Berlin Film Festival, The Venice Film Festival and The Cannes Film Festival. Mexican figures like Amat Escalante, Michel Franco, Carlos Reygadas, Arturo Ripstein and Emilio Fernandez among others have received multiple nominations and awards within these ceremonies. 

Political climate in the US has become unstable and uncertain to the Mexican Republic and to Mexican immigrants inhabiting the States since Donald Trump’s election as president. Dr. Haddu also mentions: “We know what the response by Hollywood stars has been to the Trump administration, so I think in many ways it has galvanised the Latino community and perhaps created a level of empathy from viewers, who are against the Trump rhetoric.” In the end, Mexicans might be able to overcome adversity through film by inspiring the masses to fight for freedom.