Magazine article Filmmaker

Mexican Revolution

Magazine article Filmmaker

Mexican Revolution

Article excerpt

At the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival five Mexican-produced features demonstrated the exciting range of talent coming out of that country's growing film industry.

La Zona, made by first-time director Rodrigo Plá, is a contained thriller. Small-time thieves invade an upper-class suburban neighborhood separated from neighboring poor society by 1984-style walls and security. Their simple plan of robbery goes bad when they unexpectedly kill an elderly woman. A disillusioned rich kid is caught in between the upper crust's lust for blood and one of the scared teen thieves who hides in his basement.

La Zona has a cable TV vibe (no longer a slam on a film!) with an extremely polished visual style. Director Plá (from Montevideo, Uruguay) studied at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica in Mexico City. He displays adeptness for solid filmmaking with flowing crane shots, freaky security camera shots, and definitive genre characters.

There are some confusing moments - it actually takes a while to understand how the suburban homes are a compound. Various jumps in time don't help the plot structure. But the director is obviously someone to watch. The film won Toronto's FIPRESCI International Film Critics Prize.

Under the Same Moon is also very polished, dealing with U.S.-Mexico border issues. Patricia Riggen's (from Guadalajara) feature debut, she's the first Mexican to ever win a Student Academy Award (with the 2002 short The Cornfield) and she won Sundance's Best Short Film Award for Family Portrait (2004), her documentary on Gordon Parks.

The "hero" of Moon, nine-year-old Carlitos, cares for his grandmother in Mexico while his mom works in America, sending money back home and figuring out how to reunite the family. When the grandmother passes away, Carlitos can't stand waiting any more and bravely sets off to cross the border, despite the dangers of authorities and criminals alike.

The film is played very straight - A to B to C - with solid acting and a nice look into what illegal immigrants are going through on both sides of the border. An assured crowd-pleaser, the film could be a nice success and even educational if it is marketed to families and teenagers.

I'm not taking a real leap by saying Carlos Reygadas's new film Silent Light is a masterpiece. It contains subtle and realistic acting, pacing that is stoic but gripping, and is layered with absolutely luscious imagery and sound - even a shitty 70s American car looks mystical. The strange setting of Mennonites in Mexico provides magical reality as a farmer supports his wife and kids but is having an affair. …

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