Mexican cinema is a power on the rise that deserves support and protection, participants said during the Ariel awards gala, in which Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Güeros” took home best picture and four other awards.
Several of the prize recipients and the president of the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences, Blanca Guerra, called for greater government support for cinema operators and expressed their opposition to budget cuts.
At the start of Wednesday night’s awards show, Guerra said a legally mandated 10 percent screen quota for Mexican cinema “is no longer sufficient” and called on President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration to defend the domestic film industry, which churned out 130 movies in 2014, many of which were recognized at prestigious international festivals.
“We’ll shout it out loud until Mexican films have a dignified space for viewing by Mexicans,” Guerra said, adding that only Hollywood fare is screened in Mexico and that those productions have subtly manipulated the local film-going public for decades.
The winner of the best first feature award at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival, “Güeros” is an example of Mexican cinema enjoying critical acclaim abroad yet not experiencing subsequent box-office success at home.
Nominated for 12 Ariels, Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscars, “Güeros” ended up taking home five awards: best picture, best sound editing, best cinematography, best debut film and best director (Ruizpalacios).
Set during the 1999 student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, and filmed in black and white, “Güeros” tells of a troubled teenager, Tomas, who is kicked out of his house by his mother and sent to live with his older brother, Sombra, in Mexico City, where they embark on a road trip around the sprawling metropolis.
“Cantinflas,” a movie directed by Sebastian del Amo that tells of the late beloved Mexican comedy film star, won prizes for best makeup, best costume design and best art design.
“Obediencia perfecta” (Perfect Obedience), which explores child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, won three awards: best performance by an actor in a debut role (Sebastian Aguirre), best adapted screenplay and best actor (Juan Manuel Bernal).
The best-actress prize went to Adriana Paz for her role in “La tirisia.”