This article has been on the back of my mind for the past few years, and the lonely title and blank page on my laptop for a week past its due date (sorry boss). I’ve wanted to discuss the contributions and successes of Mexican directors as the subject is very near and dear to my heart. I don’t even fully know how to even begin to broach the subject since I admire these gentlemen so much.
In the past few years, we have seen the onslaught of Mexican talent swooping up during awards season. None of this is a sudden overnight success, these artists have been in the industry, here and abroad, for a long time. While Mexico has many more contributors, I’ll be focusing on the trio of Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Del Toro, and Alejandro González Iñárritu, who together have become a collaborative filmmaking machine. Most recently of the three, Alejandro González Iñárritu has won consecutive Academy Awards for Best Director for Birdman and The Revenant, and prior to this the award went to Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity. The countless awards between the three aside, the films themselves are a testament to their creative genius.
Their collective filmography spans various themes, genres, languages, but are all connected by the filmmakers country of origin and the inspirations they draw from their upbringings. Cuarón and Del Toro met early on in their studies, and Inarritu came along later. Since then, the three have forged symbiotic relationships that have contributed to the success of each one through trusted feedback from their compatriots and fellow artists. They have collaborated on a majority of their projects; Cuarón served as producer on Pan’s Labyrinth, all three served as producers on Rudo y Cursi, and though uncredited, each have served as sounding boards for one another throughout their filmmaking process from script to the editing room on various other projects.
Each artist takes a different approach to filmmaking and each has explored different aspects of humanity, but all brought their Mexican perspective into the mix. That perspective and point of view has brought a more whimsical touch to their films, and at times an unmatched sense of humor. They each have their own strengths and all have an incredible range. Cuarón has gone from A Little Princess to Y tu mama tambien, Iñárritu from Birdman to The Revenant, and Del Toro from Pan’s Labyrinth to Pacific Rim. Each filmmaker also has his particular strengths, like Del Toro in fantasy, but none can be pegged into a single hole.
I admire these artists because they grew up where I did and revel in the influence of their country, while making movies that resonate globally. While they are no longer there, they carry its influence and weave it into their films without it being overt. As long as I’ve been away, I also notice the deep imprint my mom’s country has had on me. My experience in the industry so far leaves me yearning to be on set with filmmakers like Cuarón, Del Toro, and Iñárritu, who seem to leave pretension off the set and make it truly about storytelling without egos. What I wouldn’t give to have a drink with these “bad ass hombres”.