Numerous epochs make up the cinematic history of Mexico, from the silent era to today it has remained one of, if not, the leading producer of film in Latin America. Nuevo cine Mexicano, or New Mexican Cinema, of the 1990s and 2000s marks the nations rise to the international spotlight since its first Golden Age during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. New Mexican Cinema, the product of increased government support, produced three of Mexico’s best known directors in recent memory: Alfonso Curon, Guillermo del Torro, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Following their enormous success and international acceptance, the landscape of Mexican Cinema is cleared for a new generation of filmmakers. THE NEW MEXICAN NEW WAVE spotlights three contemporary, and vastly different, Mexican films from up and coming directors for a fascinating look at Mexico and Mexican Cinema today!
Directed by Amat Escalante.
Mexico. 2014. 105minutes. Spanish with English Subtitles.
Estela is a 12 year old girl who has just fallen crazy in love with a young police cadet who wants to run away with her and get married. Trying to achieve this dream, her family will have to live the violence that is devastating the region. The controversial film won director Amat Escalante BEST DIRECTOR at the Cannes Film Festival (awarded by Steven Spielberg). A controversial film, THE GUARDIAN says, “Director Amat Escalante – a more explicitly political blood brother to Mexico’s current king of neo-realist weirdness, Carlos Reygadas – has shot a damning indictment of contemporary Mexico, capturing its institutionalised corruption, its endemic cruelty.” The film was selected by the 2014 Miami International Film Festival. Note: Some Disturbing Images
THE AMAZING CATFISH
Directed by Claudia Sainte-Luce.
Mexico. 2014. 89minutes. Spanish with English Subtitles.
Claudia (Ximena Ayala), a product demonstrator in her twenties, meets ailing matriarch Martha (Lisa Owen) in a hospital room after Claudia is admitted for appendicitis. The women bond over a bag of potato chips passed between their beds. Martha has four kids from three different fathers; Claudia has been on her own her entire life. When Martha spots Claudia walking home alone after surgery, she offers her a lift in her crowded old yellow Beetle. Claudia accepts, after some hesitation — perhaps she sensed that getting into that car was going to change her life. Some families we’re born into; some we build. And some families simply come to us, unannounced, when we least expect it. The story of THE AMAZING CATFISH falls into that last category. Set in Guadalajara, Mexico, this debut feature from writer-director Claudia Sainte-Luce is a sweet comedy that explores generosity and responsibility. Without anyone ever making a big deal of it, Claudia is quickly integrated into Martha’s quirky, bustling home, where along with camaraderie and regular meals come unexpected duties. Martha is HIV-positive and slowly dying — the painful process exacerbated by the extreme expense of, and, due to layers of bureaucracy, the difficulty in accessing medical treatments. Claudia can lend a hand, not only with Martha’s daily needs, but by caring for the children — acknowledging Wendy’s self-destructive habits or Mariana’s anxieties, or answering little Armando’s questions about how to execute various types of kisses. None of this feels forced. These moments emerge naturally, nestled between countless moments of inspired comedy, and the camerawork by Claire Denis’ cinematographer Agnès Godard is as immaculately naturalistic as the performances. Inevitably, there is some sadness in The Amazing Catfish, but the feeling we’re left with is one of abundant joy — and messy, beautiful togetherness. The CHICAGO READER calls the film a “glorious debut” that “feels spontaneous and new.”
THE EMPTY HOURS
Directed by Aarón Fernández Lesur.
Mexico. 2014. 101mintues. Spanish with English Subtitles.
On the desolated coast of Veracruz, Mexico, 17-year-old Sebastián takes over running his uncle’s small & cozy rent-by-the-hour motel. There all by himself much of the time, he meets Miranda, a regular customer who comes to the motel to meet a lover who always keeps her waiting. There together with time to kill, Sebastián and Miranda begin to get to know each other, and an ambiguous game of seduction begins between them. Official selection of the 2013 San Sebastian Film Festival. VARIETY praised the film as an “infectiously engrossing drama,” and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER singled out the “radiant performance from… Adriana Paz,” in “this sensitively made film.”