From the rififi behind the success of “Pinocchio” and the golden age of Mexican cinema

(AFP) – Guillermo del Toro enjoys worldwide critical and popular success with his animated film “Pinocchio”, the figurehead of a handful of internationally renowned Mexican directors and actors, but tension reigns behind the scenes.

Another remake of Carlo Collodi’s tale, the beautiful escape of the little puppet carved out of a pine cone and in the tears of mourning by the cabinetmaker Gepetto took the lead in English-language films seen on Netflix, with 39.38 million viewing hours for the week of December 12-18.

Set in Fascist Italy, the new adaptation of “Pinocchio” is brilliant, innovative and overwhelming, according to many critics fascinated by the technique of “stop motion” (setting a series of still images in motion) .

Another renowned director in Hollywood, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu delivered earlier on Netflix, on November 16, his “Bardo”, autobiographical fable of a journalist-filmmaker returning to the country after years in Los Angeles.

A sumptuous visual poem for some, a bloated but breathless film for others, “Bardo” strikes the spirits with a climax in the form of a dialogue between the director’s double and Cortès at the top of a pyramid of naked bodies (allusion the ravages of the Conquest or the 52,000 unidentified bodies in the morgues of the country, as you choose).

In a lighter register, the actress Mariana Treviño, revealed in a very average local series, went to conquer Hollywood by sharing the poster for a comedy with Tom Hanks (“The worst neighbor in the world”, in French).

His compatriot Tenoch Huerta presented in November in Mexico City in quasi-world premiere “Black Panther”, with another star in the cast of Marvel Studios, Lupita Nyongo’o, Kenyan born in Mexico City.

– “Systematic destruction of Mexican cinema” –

Is Mexican cinema experiencing a second golden age, after the 30 glorious years 1940-1960? The atmosphere is not this blissful optimism on the side of Churubusco, the studios where Dolores del Rio, Maria Felix, Pedro Almendriz and so many others shone.

“The systematic destruction of Mexican cinema and its institutions – which took decades to build – has been brutal”, even launched Guillermo del Toro in November on Twitter.

In full promotion of “Pinocchio”, he supported the Mexican Academy of Cinema, which threatens to suspend the 2023 ceremony of the Ariels, the equivalent of the Oscars in Mexico, for lack of state support.

Guillermo del Toro even offered to pay out of his own pocket for the statuettes awarded each year to the best films, the best actors…

“He is a generous colleague”, welcomes the president of the Academy Leticia Huijara, who however prefers the path of an agreement with the State, but “to date, the convocation of the Ariels is postponed”, a- she confirmed to AFP.

All these criticisms leave marble Maria Novaro, the director general of the Imcine (Mexican Institute of Cinematography), the armed wing of the Mexican State in the industry of the seventh art.

“Del Toro says that there is no more Mexican cinema in the year when there have never been so many productions”, she launches, speaking of a “record” of 256 films in 2021 .

“And 56% received the support of public money. Imcine devotes 900 million pesos per year (45 million dollars) to the financing of Mexican cinema”, insists the author of “Danzon” who had known a certain success in Cannes in the 90s. “It’s very good that Netflix produces a lot of content in Mexico. But it does not replace what Imcine does”.

Mexican cinema has become decentralized and diversified, continues Maria Novaro, in unison with the priorities displayed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in favor of the poorest and native peoples.

Since 2019, there has been “a stimulation of indigenous and Afro-descendant cinema. With this program, we have 56 films in production”.

“Films are starting to come out that tell about migration from the perspective of the own indigenous migrant,” she says.

Problem: It’s hard to see Mexican movies in Mexico. “With the (North American) Free Trade Agreement, the law reduced to 10%” the percentage of national films that distributors must program in theaters in Mexico.

One of the consequences of “neo-liberal” policies, plagues Maria Novaro, in the same vein as President Lopez Obrador. And if the real problem was this absence of “cultural exception”, more than the cost of the statuettes of the Ariels ceremony?

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From the rififi behind the success of “Pinocchio” and the golden age of Mexican cinema