By Julie R Butler
There was a Golden Age of Mexican Cinema that lasted from the 1930s through the early 1960s, after which Hollywood dominated the movie scene in Mexico. But now there’s a new wave of energy and creativity that’s putting Mexico at the top of the cinematic world: Here comes the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema 2.0!
The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema
The original Golden Age of Mexican Cinema brought us such national treasures as Fernando de Fuentes’ Vámonos con Pancho Villa, Luis Buñuel’s Los olvidados, Alberto Gout’s Aventurera, and of course Enamorada and María Candelaria, both by Emilio Fernándes, along with many films featuring Cantinflas.
Photo by peru21.pe, CC BY-SA 4.0
But then came television, along with new technical innovations in the film industry that increased the cost of production, making it difficult for the Mexican film industry to compete with Hollywood. Mexican audiences were left with low-budget B-movie luchador cult classics, silly sexicomedias, and direct-to-video “Mexploitation” flicks, while serious films were largely relegated to the international film festival and arthouse scenes.
The Birth of Nuevo Cine México
Thankfully, during the 1990s, a cinematic renaissance began to blossom in Mexico, beginning with the success of Alfonso Arau’s Como Agua Para Chocolate. Soon, the Mexican directors known as the “Three Amigos” — Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro — emerged into the international spotlight with the breakout films Amores Perros, Y Tu Mamá También, and Cronos.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Photo by Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0
Mexican Cinema’s Second Golden Age
By the 2010s, the Nuevo Cine México movement was showing all the signs of a Golden Age of being Mexican Cinema 2.0, as the Three Amigos moved beyond Mexican audiences and on to producing highly acclaimed English-language films.
Meanwhile, back home in Mexico, experienced directors such as Carlos Carrera (El crimen del Padre Amaro), along with a fresh crop of filmmakers, began receiving the support they needed to dramatically increase the production of films for the domestic market. Mexico went from producing 28 films in 2000 to 130 films in 2014. And in 2018, the number of Mexican films rose to 184.
This stunning increase in volume has given space to a dynamic filmmaking industry in Mexico. Carlos Reygadas and Amat Escalante are leading the way in the art film genre, having won Cannes Film Festival awards for Best Director for Post Tenebras Luz and Heli.
Actors Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal have helped support Mexican independent film with the establishment of their production company Canana in 2005. Annual film festivals in Guadalajara, Morelia, and other spots are also advancing the cause by cultivating and showcasing emerging new artists.