Mexico Cinema Crosses the Border With ‘Instructions,’ ‘Nobles’

November 8, 2013

Variety, 11/6/2013

nosotros_los_noblesThe crossover success of at least one Mexican film, along with plans in place for another local hit to make its way north, have Mexico’s bizzers thinking big, and targeting the U.S. as fertile ground for distribution. Mexico’s box office is typically dominated by movies from Hollywood. In 2012, the country’s total B.O. receipts hit $841 million, with two local hits contributing a dismal $7.8 million. In 2011, the biggest local film was the animated “Top Cat,” with $8 million, while in 2010, box office for the top two local hits peaked at $16.6 million.

This year, however, things have changed a bit. Gaz Alazraki’s “We Are the Nobles,” distribbed by Warner Bros., has grossed $26.6 million at the local box office, while Eugenio Derbez’s “Instructions Not Included” has taken in $44.9 million through Oct. 27. More important, “Instructions” has also been a hit in the U.S. for Lionsgate-Televisa joint venture Pantelion Films, grossing $44.0 million through Oct. 30 in the States — making it the second-highest-grossing foreign-language film of all time.

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Mexico’s Amat Escalante wins Cannes best director

May 29, 2013

AFP Alberto PizzoliAFP, 5/27/2013

Mexico’s Amat Escalante on Sunday won the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his ultra-violent film “Heli” about his country’s blood-drenched drug wars. The 34-year-old director, who was forced onto the defensive after the violence left some members of the audience uneasy, paid tribute to this year’s Cannes jury headed by Steven Spielberg. “This earthquake, I wasn’t expecting this! Thank you to this brave jury… to Mexico, I hope we never get used to suffering… ” he said.

“Heli” tells the story of a family caught up in gangland battles in an unnamed desert region of contemporary Mexico and contains protracted torture scenes. In one scene, a character sets the genitals of a suspected cocaine thief ablaze. Escalante reacted to criticism of the film by calling it an accurate depiction of the situation in underworld crime-blighted Mexico. And he dismissed critical questions about upsetting audiences. “What’s the point of not showing the violence just so the audience can go through the story and not suffer so much when actually that’s not how violence is in real life?” he asked reporters.

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In Mexico, comedy and scandal expose class schism

May 10, 2013

nosotros_los_noblesAFP, 5/10/2013

How the mighty have fallen in Mexico — at least on movie screens and in social media. A comedy lampooning the rich has become the highest-grossing film in Mexican cinema history, with five million moviegoers laughing at the story of a construction tycoon fooling his spoilt children into a life of poverty. “Nosotros Los Nobles” (“We Are The Nobles”) has hit a nerve — or the funny bone — in a country with one of the widest income gaps in the world, where 10 percent of the people control 40 percent of the wealth while almost half live in poverty.

Then last month, in a real-life scene that could have come right from the script, inspectors from the Profeco consumer protection agency tried to close a restaurant after their boss’s daughter complained she was denied her table of choice. But the tables turned on her when Mexicans denounced her behavior on Twitter, dubbing her #LadyProfeco. Some mocked her as a daddy’s girl, asking her to shut down a volcano spewing ash, but many saw it as the latest example of the elite’s sense of entitlement.

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Mexican comedy plays on country’s huge wealth gap, draws a million moviegoers

April 5, 2013

nosotros_los_noblesAssociated Press, 4/5/13

A construction magnate’s preppy son is forced to drive one of Mexico City’s battered green buses, while his spoiled sister waits tables at a cantina in a miniskirt and non-designer shoes. Their credit cards have been canceled, their BMWs and mansion seized.

The Mexican riches-to-rags movie, “We are the Nobles” has opened to packed theaters in a country with one of the world’s widest income gaps — and a love for laughing at misfortune. More than 1 million people showed up in the first week to see the story of an impresario who fakes a government raid on his riches to teach his children the value of work.

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EVENT: Feeding America: Labor, Politics, and Food

February 11, 2013

braceroprogram

 

Are you interested in the role of agricultural work, politics, and economics in the production of food in America?  If yes, check out the following  events hosted at the Smithsonian American History Museum. Harvest of Loneliness, a documentary about the bracero guest worker program will be screened on Saturday February 23, 2013.

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Documentary ‘El Sicario’ reveals how organized crime operates in Mexico [In Spanish]

March 7, 2012

CNN México, 2/24/2012

For almost 80 minutes on film, a Mexican man completed covered in thick layers of black cloth except for his forearms gives testimony of his former occupation: being a hitman for a drug cartel in Ciudad Juárez. Released as El Sicario, Room 164, the documentary tells its story through the anecdotes of this masked man, recounted in the same hotel room in which he allegedly tortured one of his kidnapped victims. In front of the camera, the hitman calmly confesses to have killed around 500 people.

Produced by Icarus Films, the documentary has been shown in many parts of the world, including screening at European film festivals like those of Vienna and Venice, and received nominations for best documentary film. It has not yet been distributed or screened commercially in Mexico, except at the Guadalajara Film Festival. Following that showing, the film has not screened elsewhere, according to its director and cinematographer Gianfranco Rosi.

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Film: Mexico’s ‘Miss Bala’ is a vision of hopelessness

September 15, 2011

Los Angeles Times, 9/15/11

Tonight, Mexicans around the world will celebrate 201 years of their country’s independence from Spain with “The Shout,” the mythologized call for an uprisingagainst foreign rule made by Father Miguel Hidalgo on Sept. 16, 1810.

Unlike last year’s big Independence Day bicentennial, which saw a gargantuan carnival take hold in the center of Mexico City, this year’s run-up to the biggest Mexican holiday on the calendar has been rather lackluster.

Traditional decorations on government buildings appeared gradually or not at all. It was the same for street-corner vendors selling red-white-and-green flags. Troublingly, several news reports from various regions of the country said some cities and towns — as many did last year — will not celebrate “El Grito” tonight for fear of violence or due to extortion threats (link in Spanish).

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